Skiers and boarders like to talk big about making first tracks, but getting them is actually pretty hard. You’ve got to time it just right. Not only do you need to arrive at the hill before all others (good luck getting up super early in the dead of winter), but first tracks are best savoured after a heavy dump of snow. For the first time in my life, I experienced first tracks this past weekend. It was truly worth the hype. Here’s a look at our experience.
Lake Louise Ski Resort is one Canada’s best ski resorts and our destination for first tracks. It’s about a two-hour drive from our home in Calgary, so we spent the night at the historic Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
We drove out after lunch on Friday so we could make the most of this magical spot in the Rockies. As we cruised along the TransCanada Highway rain turned to snow. Lots of it. It was dumping down for hours on Friday afternoon and evening.
That meant we had to make a beeline for the outdoors as soon as we arrived. Lake Louise sports one of the world’s best outdoor ice rinks. With an ice castle to glide through, a separate ice rink for impromptu hockey games and a snowball fort, you’ll stay out way longer than you expected.
Lake Louise also hosts the Ice Magic Festival. Saunter around the grounds of the Chateau and take in the whimsical works of icy art or see it displayed through town.
Of course, when you come across an ice bar, you must stop for a tipple. Hot chocolate for my girl and mulled wine for me!
Embarrassingly, I feel asleep before 9 p.m. on Friday night, but that just meant I was raring to go the next morning. At 8:30 all the First Trackers were ready to roll out with their guides. I didn’t expect guides to be part of the package, but each pair of skiers and boarders had an instructor with them for that first hour to show them the mountain and give performance tips.
Not everyone can get First Tracks like this. Today is actually the last day to get your chance. Anyone who purchases $300 or more on alpine ski or board equipment (including helmet, poles, goggles) at Sport Chek gets a free lift ticket and early access for two at one of the participating ski hills across Canada. For lucky Calgarians, who are spoiled for choice, their First Tracks hill is Lake Louise.
As you can see from the pics I hastily took with my iPhone, it was a bluebird day. We cruised all over the mountain, from the front side to the back bowls. And because I switched from my board to demo skis, I was able to tackle different terrain. Moguls are so much easier on two planks!
This was probably the happiest 24-hours I’ve had all winter. All that fresh air, the thrill of getting the mountain to yourself, enjoying après-ski after burning out my legs. It was one perfect moment after the next. Trouble is, it’s been 15-years since I spent the day on skis and at the end of it, I was as tired as a mom forced to play Lego. Again, I hit the sack early, and I fell asleep thinking I was still swooshing across the slopes. Bliss.
Have you ever made first tracks at a ski resort? What was your experience like?