As Whistler and neighbouring British Columbia ski resorts get caught in the blinding flash of 2,500-plus press cameras during February's 2010 Olympic Games, the rest of Canada's ski areas stand by buffed and ready. The media's focus on white-knuckle Olympic stuff - downhill, half-pipe, ski cross - is bound to exacerbate Canadians' itch to get out there and go skiing. Lucky for us, from Marble Mountain to Marmot Basin, slopes outside B.C. are in fine form, as this season's storm cycles have dumped plenty of white stuff. Here's a cross-Canada look at worthy resorts - now go scratch that itch.
Marmot Basin Jasper, Alta. If long, smoothly groomed slopes surrounded by stunning Rockies don't get you there, the absence of lift lines at Marmot ( www.skimarmot.com, 780-852-3816) should. Add some trees and steeps, Marmot's friendly community vibe, plus its proximity to Jasper - one of Canada's most authentic-seeming ski towns - and you've got plenty of reasons to go. Don't Miss… riding Marmot Basin's new Canadian Rockies Express, the fastest and longest quad chair in Alberta's Rockies. Marmot is Perfect For… skiing and chilling. It's close - but not too close - to the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, one of Canada's quietest ski hotels. Book your own cabin in the trees and let room service stoke the fire. The Deep & The Deets Snowfall: 400 centimetres Terrain: 1,675 acres Vertical: 914 metres Lifts: 8 Lift ticket: $72.38 Where to stay Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge ( www.fairmont.com/jasper)
Sunshine Village Banff, Alta. Way up there at 2,730 metres sits Alberta's Sunshine Village (www.sunshinevillage.com; 1-87-SKI-BANFF), a ski area with all-natural snow among some seriously pretty Canadian Rockies. But it's the terrain that is most worthy: expansive high-alpine fare, including cruisy, wide-open bowls, powdery trees and collection of some of the toughest steeps east of Whistler. Don't miss… Delirium Dive. It's a gated, controlled free-ride zone (you have to meet certain requirements to get in) with a pant-wetting entry and freakish steeps for experts only. Sunshine is perfect for… sleeping on the slopes. Banff's only slope-side hotel is mid-mountain at Sunshine. The Sunshine Mountain Lodge is surprisingly swank, and so quiet the only noise waking you is the groomers. The Deep & The Deets Snowfall: 925 cm Terrain: 3,358 acres Vertical: 1,070 metres Lifts: 12 Lift ticket: $76.14 Where to stay Sunshine Mountain Lodge ( www.sunshinemountainlodge.com)
Lake Louise Banff, Alta. There's so much good stuff at Alberta's Lake Louise (www.skilouise.com, 1-877-956-8473), it takes years to ski it. Just ask the hard-riding locals, who are as loyal to The Lake as jam is to peanut butter. If you've got only a week, be sure to ride Louise's glorious back bowls, thigh-burning bumps, the speedy Men's Downhill run, and the hop-skip-and-jump skiing of the Rock Gardens off Louise's Larch Chair. Don't Miss… the view. Stand at the summit of Lake Louise on a bluebird day and simply stare at Banff National Park and its splendid collection of Rockies. Lake Louise is perfect for… nostalgia. Sure, the lifts and lodges are state-of-the-art. But there's a visceral sense of Canadian history at Lake Louise. Think: Canadian Pacific Railway, Chateau Lake Louise, Skoki Lodge (c. 1931) and the birth of Canadian mountaineering. The Deep & The Deets Snowfall: 480 cm Terrain: 4,200 acres Vertical: 991 metres Lifts: 9 Lift ticket: $76 Where to stay Post Hotel and Spa ( www.posthotel.com)
Blue Mountain, Collingwood, Ont. Smack in the midst of some flat and fruitful farmland is Blue Mountain (www.bluemountain.ca, 877-445-0231), a thriving resort complete with walkable village, restaurants, slope-side hotels and 219 metres of prime Ontario vertical. It's best for beginners, park riders, night skiers and value-seekers - Blue always discounts lift passes for its copious ski weeks (women's week, college and university week, for example). Don't Miss… the newly renovated South Base Lodge, which is now catering to brown baggers. The lodge anchors some bigger, better beginner terrain. Blue Mountain is perfect for… soaking ski stress away in the outdoor baths of Le Scandinave Spa Blue Mountain. ( www.scandinaveblue.com) The Deep & The Deets Snowfall: 279 cm Terrain: 251 acres Vertical: 219 metres Lifts: 15 Lift ticket: $57 Where to stay Westin Trillium House Blue Mountain ( www. westinbluemountain.com)
Mount St. Louis Moonstone Moonstone, Ont. The Huter family continues to operate its envelope-pushing ski area (www.mslm.on.ca, 705-835-2112) with enthusiasm, precision and an eye on upgrades. With three high-speed six-pack lifts, 40 slopes, two terrain parks and an excellent ski school, Mount St. Louis Moonstone is small yet mighty. Don't miss… the roomy beginner terrain, including two low-and-slow lifts plus an easy-to-use magic carpet. Mount St. Louis is perfect for… riding the Super Pipe. Snowboard Canada magazine tagged it "best in the province." The Deep & The Deets: Snowfall: 305 cm Terrain: 170 acres Vertical: 168 metres Lifts: 12 Lift ticket: $48
Le Massif Charlevoix, Que. This Quebec gem ( www.lemassif.com/en, 877-536-2774) may be well hidden in the hills of Charlevoix, but with Cirque du Soleil co-founder Daniel Gauthier at its helm, it will soon broadcast its full talent. On tap: a 30-per-cent terrain and lift expansion by 2013, part of a $230-million project that includes a nearby eco-hotel, spa and multiseat theatre. Le Massif already boasts a fabulous view of the St. Lawrence, meandering runs and the biggest vertical drop east of the Rockies. Don't miss… Le Massif's 34 acres of off-piste skiing - including a run designed specifically for kids. Le Massif is perfect for… eating. Wild game, homegrown veggies, crepes, triple-course table d'hôtes - Le Massif fare is the antithesis of traditional slope-side eating. The Deep & The Deets Snowfall: 630 cm Terrain: 410 acres Vertical: 770 metres Lifts: 4 Lift ticket: $61 Where to stay Auberge La Grande Maison ( www.lagrandemaisoninn-charlevoix.com)
Mont-Sainte-Anne Beaupré, Que. It's a true Canadian classic. Mont-Sainte-Anne ( www.mont-sainte-anne.com; 888-827-4579) has a time-tested mix of long, ambling trails, bump-infested runs, sous-bois (glades) and smoothly groomed slopes with consistent pitch that are always racer-ready. A plus: it's just 40 kilometres to the cultural riches of Quebec City. Don't miss… the funky après-ski at Mont-Sainte-Anne's La Chouette bar. Mont-Sainte-Anne is perfect for… sampling real-deal maple taffy handmade from syrup brewed in MSA's slope-side sugar shack. The Deep & The Deets Snowfall: 475 cm Terrain: 465 acres Vertical: 625 metres Lifts: 12 Lift ticket: $62 Where to stay Chalets Montmorency ( www.chaletsmontmorency.com)
Marble Mountain Corner Brook, Nfld. Join the recent influx of Euro skiers who have made Marble Mountain (www.skimarble.com; 888-462-7253) their Canadian hideaway. Marble is a Newfoundland surprise that has it all: glades, quick lifts, 37 runs, ample snow, and a respectable 519 metres of vertical - the greatest in Atlantic Canada. Best part: a lift called the Newfie Bullet and a run called OMJ… use your imagination. Don't miss… Marble's expanded terrain park, which exploits unusual features including a bright-yellow car and a fishing dory Marble Mountain is perfect for… beginners, thanks to a new surface lift (magic carpet) and a new novice run called the Jigger. The Deep & The Deets Snowfall: 500 cm Terrain: 225 acres Vertical: 519 metres Lifts: 5 Lift ticket: $49 Where to stay Marble Villa ( www.skimarble.com/thevilla.asp)
Lori Knowles is the editor of Ski Press Canada magazine.
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