Travis Ganong is an up-and-coming U.S. Ski Team Alpine racer. Ganong hails from Lake Tahoe, Calif. where he grew up skiing at Squaw Valley. In 2012, he finished 12th, a career best, on the famed Hahnenkamm downhill in Kitzbuehel, Austria. When he’s not racing, Ganong spends his time free skiing and even did some big mountain skiing this past summer in Alaska for Warren Miller’s latest film: Flow State. Ganong will be blogging for OnTheSnow throughout this World Cup season as he prepares for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.   

Lake Louise is one of my favorite places on the World Cup tour. Every year, coming here feels like we are arriving to a Christmassy winter wonderland—with mountains, lakes and glaciers straight out of a fantasy book, and an old historic hotel anchoring all of that natural beauty. Even though we have been skiing for about a month in Colorado, it really doesn’t feel like winter yet down there as we are only skiing on one trail and on man-made snow. Up here in Canada, every year we can pretty much count on tons of natural snow, and cold winter temperatures. It is a great place to kick off the winter season for us downhillers every year.

Then there is the simplicity of life for skiers up at Lake Louise that is lost in most other ski regions of the world. There really is no town here as Lake Louise is in the heart of Banff National Park, so everyone who comes here comes for a reason and that is usually to ski. Most skiers stay in Le Chateau Lake Louise, a legendary hotel right on the shores of Lake Louise, and once you arrive and park the car, life seems to slow down. Everything you need is in the hotel, and every morning waking up feels like Christmas when you look out the window of your room and see all the snow covered trees, and huge mountains. That view every morning makes it easy to get out of bed, and get ready for a great day of skiing.

The variety of every destination on the World Cup tour is what I think I love the most about traveling around on the “White Circus” every season. Every single place that we get to go and race has its own mystique and charm. Even though skiing is always just skiing, every spot is in a little different mountain range, with a different skiing history, different snow conditions and different people. I get reminded of this every year at the first World Cup up here in Canada, and it gets me fired up to start the long winter migration from World Cup to World Cup on what we ski racers dub, the “White Circus”!

After a great Downhill race up here in Canada, we leave the glaciers, grizzlies and cold temps behind for the rest of the season and head to the second stop on tour: Beaver Creek. This is the only race that we have in the U.S. for the rest of the season, so it is a really special race for all of us American Downhillers. Stay tuned to hear about “The Beav” and to see some photos from stop No. 2!