The first ski hill to open in North America this year was Calgary’s Olympic Park, which took advantage of an early season cold snap to start operations in mid-October. I was lucky enough to be in Calgary for a conference the week they opened, and was able to juggle my schedule enough to fit in a brief four-hour visit on October 21st.
The snow was better than I expected: heavy without being wet, and it improved considerably once night fell and the temperature dropped. The run included a small half-pipe, a couple of decent-sized rollers and a few impromptu jumps on the ridges under the light stanchions. There were scores of park kids doing flips and grabs in the pipe, a couple of telemarkers, and even one lonely snowblader. Part of the fun for me was wrestling the carving skis I’d been given by the rental store out of the tight GS-style turns they kept trying to make, and attempting to land a few small airs on a 70mm waist. (I learned the hard way that there was just no way those things were going switch.)
The Olympic Park is pretty tiny – it took me all of about 30 seconds to get from top to bottom – and to be honest, in mid-season I would have been bored within about fifteen minutes. But in October, after five months of summer sunshine, it was just great to be back on the snow.