Snow has come to the Alberta Canadian Rockies, and resorts have fired up the snow guns in preparation for the season. Several resorts have incentive to get slopes covered early in snow, especially Marmot Basin, pictured above at sunrise, with anticipation of the two new lifts opening this winter.

Nakiska had double incentive for crews to start blowing snow by Oct. 19. The ski area opened to the public this past weekend for skiing Saturday and Sunday on three runs. The available runs were geared toward intermediate and advanced skiers and riders only, with up and downloading on the Olympic chair.

Nakiska has another reason to get slopes ready early. The resort became a National Training Center in 2008, serving as a place for national teams to train prior to the opening of the World Cup season. This year, race teams start training Nov. 7 at Nakiska.

“Teams from around the world—the U.S., Canada, Switzerland, Italy and France—start arriving this week to begin training,” reports Matt Mosteller, vice president of Resorts of the Canadian Rockies, owner of Nakiska.

Snow Making 008
A groomer spreads out a snowmaking whale at Nakiska prior to opening day Oct. 29. Photo Courtesy of Nakiska/Resorts of the Canadian Rockies.

Nakiska beat out Lake Louise for opening to the public first in Canada this year. It plans to run weekends for the public during November and start up daily operation Dec. 2. But Lake Louise will be the first to open seven days a week starting Nov. 5.

Lake Louise completed replacement of the main water supply line just in time for snowmaking to get going for opening day. Snowmaking needs to rip into full action on the downhill course as the World Cup season launches Nov. 23 with the Lake Louise Winterstart. While snowmaking crews ran the guns, trail crews worked the alpine slopes to tie fencing to steel posts. The fences serve as snow traps, piling up drifts on the leeward side. When the snow consolidates, the fence will be removed.

2011 Jason Macqueen Snowmaking (8)

Lake Louise blows snow in front of Ten Peaks Lodge in the base area. Photo Courtesy of Jason Macqueen/Lake Louise.

Snowmaking crews are blowing large whales of machine-made snow on the steepest segment of the Men's Downhill. The avalanche team will then detonate hand charges in the whales to stabilize them.

Snowmaking is also happening at Sunshine Village, Marmot Basin and Mt. Norquay. Mt. Norquay also offers preseason race team training starting Nov. 14.

The resorts have also scheduled tentative opening days. Sunshine Village is aiming for Nov. 10 while Marmot Basin shoots for the following day, Nov. 11. Mt. Norquay’s opening day is still to be announced.

Find additional opening day information here: Nakiska, Lake Louise, Marmot Basin, Mt. Norquay, Sunshine Village.