Resorts in Banff and Jasper National Parks in Alberta traditionally open earlier than most other resorts in Canada — including Whistler-Blackcomb. "It is all about snow, and the Canadian Rockies get lots of snow early," Matt Mosteller, vice president of marketing for Resorts of the Canadian Rockies, told OnTheSnow.com.
"It's not only snow, but cold temps from our Northern latitude also make it much better for snowmaking," he added.
Early October snows at Sunshine Village forced construction crews to suspend work on the new wing of Sunshine Mountain Lodge. Work will resume in spring with a Nov. 2009 planned opening for the wing while the main lodge rents its 54 rooms this year. Sunshine Village, which relies on natural snow due to its high elevation, racks up 30 feet of snow each year.
Cold October temperatures also allowed resorts to fire up their snowmaking guns. Lake Louise, Mt. Norquay, and Marmot Basin all beef up their natural snow base with snowmaking on the lower flanks of their slopes.
Lake Louise sees such consistent early November openings that the resort even schedules November events. The annual Heavy Metal Rail Jam, a competition for freeskiers and snowboarders, takes place in the RCR Rail Park Nov. 22. A week later, racers zip out of the gates for the Winterstart World Cup. "The FIS pick Lake Louise for a reason to open the World Cup season in North America," said Mosteller, adding that the FIS World Cup Committee just approved a tentative schedule that grants Lake Louise the World Cup for the next four years.
Lake Louise and Mt. Norquay opened Nov. 8. Sunshine loaded its workers on lifts Nov. 4 to prep the mountain for opening, but needed one more snowstorm for its base, so it bumped the opening to Nov. 14. Marmot Basin is scheduled to open Nov. 14.