Whether you were born in the capital or moved here later in life, there’s one thing all Ottawa residents can agree on: winter can be unbearable.
According to a study conducted by The Independent UK, Ottawa is among one of the coldest capital cities in the world. Winter has its perils but despite the frigid temperatures, there’s more than one way to enjoy the season and escape hibernation. With ski hills in the greater Ottawa area and in Quebec, why not hit the slopes?
This step-by-step guide will ensure you’re shredding ‘pow’ (powder, fluffy snow) and riding half pipe in no time. Who knows, maybe you’ll even make Team Canada one day.
Why you should give it a try:
Ottawa is situated on the border of Ontario and mountainous Quebec. With the Laurentian Mountains just a couple hours north of Ottawa and several ski resorts less than an hour from downtown, there are various places you can go to hit the slopes.
Check out some popular spots:
- Mont. Cascades
- Calabogie Peaks Resort
- Camp Fortune
- Mont Saint Marie
- Mount Pakenham
- Radcliffe Hills
- Mont Tremblant (a little further, but amazing)
Harsh winter conditions may prevent the most ideal experience, but with frequent snowfalls and in large amounts, fresh powder is almost a weekly guarantee for most hills.
It’s not as expensive as you think
Never assume people who ski or snowboard have a lot of money. In fact, it’s a rather budget friendly option if done properly.
Single use lift passes can get pricey if you go often. A good rule of thumb to follow is to know how many times a year you will visit the hill. It may be advantageous to purchase a season pass if you plan on skiing several times a week.
“Night passes ended up being way less expensive and it’s the most convenient time to go. If you go even once a week, you pay it off by the end of the season easily,” said Sasha DeVreeze, an avid snowboarder in the Ottawa area.
Many hills also offer discounts to students and some even do 2 for 1 ride passes on select days.
Car-pooling with a friend who drives is the best option. If that option is not available to you, look for ride share programs or community programs that offer bus transportation such as Kunstandt sports in Ottawa.
It’s no secret that skiing and snowboarding equipment can be very costly. Regular price snowboards can be upwards to $500-800 and skis run at about the same price. But my dear broke student, don’t fret. There are options.
Rentals are available at almost all ski hills in Ottawa. These pose a fantastic option for a beginner because it gives the new rider a chance to learn what size board or skis will fit them best.
Rental costs vary from hill to hill, so check with your favourite location. On average, it’s usually around $20-$30 for skis, snowboards and other necessary equipment .
Alyssa Aiello, 25, who is a beginner snowboarder, found success online for new riding equipment.
“Kijiji is the best for used equipment. There are lots of people who sell perfectly good stuff, especially for beginners, just because they upgrade their own equipment,” said Aiello.
Making sure you get the right size is important, too.
“I got a lot of info from the Burton website. I also went to stores that specialize in winter activities and I spoke with some people who worked there and they helped me figure out what I needed,” Aiello said.
You may also be interested in checking out thrift stores and shops like Play It Again Sports. If you feel like buying brand new gear, just wait until the end of the season when everything goes on clearance.
What to bring
Let’s make this super simple and break down what you’ll need to bring with you for your first time not including equipment:
- Gloves (2 pairs)
- Extra Socks
- Water bottle
- Cash and change (for lockers)
- Jacket and snow pants
What to expect
Your first time snowboarding and skiing won’t be easy. Taking even one lesson can help you tremendously. Aiello took lessons her first time snowboarding.
“I took a one hour lesson at Edelweiss. It was great to take in the basics and the rest is all practice and getting used to the feel of it.”
One last tip: expect bad weather. The conditions may not be optimal, but don’t let this discourage you from trying again.
Lastly, make sure to have fun. You are fortunate enough to live in a country that allows you to take advantage of all of the seasons, so get out there and try the sports that make Canada so unique.