Skiers, step up to the challenge of Mt. Norquay in Banff National Park

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Written by bike posted on Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

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Mt. Norquay offers some of the most exciting and challenging skiing in the Canadian Rockies.

Mt. Norquay offers some of the most exciting and challenging skiing in the Canadian Rockies.

If you’ve been skiing a while in North America, you probably already know just how much skiing is available in the Canadian Rockies.

If, in all of that, you’ve overlooked Mt. Norquay, then you are in for a treat.

Ski Norquay isn’t the largest resort in the Rockies; both Sunshine Village and Lake Louise Mountain Resort are larger. Don’t get us wrong: It’s not small! There are 28 runs and the total skiing terrain is 16,382 meters.

At Ski Norquay, though, the attraction isn’t really in the amount of skiing. It’s in the quality. The resort has a vertical drop of 503 meters (1,650 feet), and of the 10 miles (16.4 kilometers) of runs, 28 percent are classified as difficult and 16 percent are graded expert. That’s right: 44 percent – nearly half – of all of the runs are difficult or expert.

So it is that Ski Norquay, despite not being the largest resort in the Rockies, is one of the most well-known in professional circles. It was even involved in Olympic bids for the 1964 and ’68 Games, and played host to the World Cup in ’72. If you’re skilled enough, you can ski the same runs that were used for the giant slalom and slalom races in ’72, taking on the North American runs. The resort is also famous for its jumping, playing the host for many international competitions.

Skiing on Mt. Norquay dates back to 1926. The first ski lodge was built two years later. Rope tows were put in in 1942, and six years later the mountain became the first resort in Canada to have a chair lift installed. It quickly became a popular destination for high-level events. Today, it still is.

You don’t have to be an expert skier to enjoy Mt. Norquay, of course; 20 percent of the runs are easy, and another 36 percent are merely moderate. Just be sure to avoid the double chair, if you want to stay away from the really hard runs. That’s the lift that goes to the North American runs. But there are 3 quad chairs, a double chair and a magic carpet, all of which go to the easier runs.

The regular season at Ski Norquay begins in December and lasts through mid-April. But in January, February and March, on Friday nights from 5 to 10 p.m., you can ski during the night at Mt. Norquay. It’s a unique way to enjoy your ski vacation, and it remains the only facility in Banff National Park to offer the service.

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