Regional ski clubs are spread across Canada. Most set fun as their first priority and sponsor trips to Canadian and U.S. locales, as well as more distant ski destinations worldwide. Many offer lesson and discounts, and some even extend their activities into year-round programs, including pub nights, dancing, golf, hiking, biking, barbecues, and gear swaps.
Joining ski clubs is inexpensive and usually $15-40 buys an annual membership. But the benefits include group travel and instant ski buddies for the slopes. Most also sponsor ski swaps for passing on and acquiring gear. Here's a sampling of what clubs across Canada are doing.
Kelowna, B.C.: The Okanagan Club for Skiing, Sports, and Socials may throw more parties than ski trips. The British Columbia club, founded originally in 1972 by Kelowna skiers, is noted for supplementing the winter with a year-round plate of costumed theme parties, dinners, dances, and pool parties.
Its original name was the Orchard Country Ski Club, named for the fruit tree belt in the Okanagan Valley wine country. A mix of adult singles and couples comprise the group that meets for year round sports and parties. Weekend trips depart twice a month for nearby orchard-belt resorts: Silver Star, Apex, and Big White. The group plans to rock South Lake Tahoe in March for their six-day ski and snowboard trip.
Calgary, Alberta: Calgary Ski Club, one of Canada's oldest ski clubs, has been around since 1920 when it held its first jumping contest at Elbow Park. Early ski trips and ski trains helped establish skiing at Canadian Rocky Mountains resorts - Mt. Norquay, Sunshine, Temple Lodge, and Lake Louise. The club started the Calgary Ski Patrol, the forerunner of the Canadian Ski Patrol System, and assisted the Alpine Club of Canada with constructing backcountry huts in the Canadian Rockies during the 1960s.
The club opens every season in October with its news and used equipment sale and sponsors around seven carpool day and weekend trips to local mountain resorts in the Canadian Rockies, and sometimes charters bus trips. It rounds out its winter sports with summer programs for hiking, cycling, golfing, softball, and tennis.
Regina, Saskatchewan: The Great Canadian Ski Club of Regina, Saskatchewan is a young pup, started in 1995. The adult-oriented club requires that individuals must be 19 years or older to join, although children may accompany a parent or guardian on day trips to Asessippi in Manitoba.
Saskatchewan's prairies inspire between 50 to 75 members, many to take advantage of the club's annual mountain trip, which heads this year to Kimberley, BC in the Canadian Rockies. Memberships buy discount rates at ski areas and local retailers, a free ski or snowboard lesson for beginners, and priority placement on club sponsored events.
Ottawa, Ontario: The Ski Extreme Club draws most of its members from the greater Ottawa populace. Membership rolls in 2008 exceeded 1,400. The club sponsors sport-specific dryland training in fall or winter to train for downhill, cross-country, or snowboarding.
It also arranges discounts in local shops and at ski hills for its members and organizes ski trips throughout Canada, the U.S., and Europe. This year's trips are scheduled to Big Sky, Mont.; Stowe, Vt.; and Orford, and Owl’s Head, Quebec. The club also holds pub nights on the last Wednesday of each month.
Toronto, Ontario: The North Toronto Ski Club restricts its membership to 1,000 adults with a minimum age of 19. Their unique claim to fame is their traveling ski and snowboard school, whose roster lists 50 ski instructors and 12 snowboard instructors. They offer lessons on trips for beginners through ski racers who want to up their skills at bashing gates.
The club hit a record 39 day trips last season to local resorts such as Blue Mountain, Georgian Peaks, and Mount St. Louis Moonstone. Weekend and week-long ski charters head to a variety of destinations from Mont Tremblant to Jackson Hole. Ski events are supplemented in the off-season with pub crawls, go kart racing, dancing, dinners, and karaoke.
Joining ski clubs is easy. Just check out their membership pages.