The race is on to fire up the lifts at Alberta ski hills — with some opening this weekend.
Matt Mosteller, senior vice-president for Resorts of the Canadian Rockies that operates the Nakiska Ski Area, said the weather is creating an optimal start to the season allowing the hill an hour west of Calgary to open on Saturday.
"We rarely get the combination of cold temperatures and natural snowfall. And this season it's magic," he said, adding 25 centimetres of snowfall and cooler temperatures over the past couple of weeks will make for a more durable surface on the slopes.
He said the ski hill will start with seven or eight runs on the upper part of the mountain — consisting only of intermediate and expert terrain.
And next week there will be more runs available for skiers, he said.
LISTEN | The Calgary Eyeopener checks in with two ski hills opening this weekend:
"We keep doing our snow dance. We call it thanking Mother Nature for the snowfall and it is great. We're fortunate in Alberta to have a season where we can kick off earlier than most in North America," he told the Calgary Eyeopener.
In a social media post, Lake Louise Ski Resort said it would also be opening for the season on Friday.
David Finch, marketing professor at Mount Royal University, said Alberta's 32 ski hills are a significant part of the province's economy, contributing several billion dollars a year.
He said Alberta is a good location for ski enthusiasts. After skiing here, Finch said he immediately approached his boss for a transfer to Calgary from Ottawa.
"In the Calgary context, we're twice as likely to ski relative to most of the rest of the province and the rest of the country. So we've been a magnet forever for skiers," he said.
LISTEN | David Finch talks about the peaks and valleys of the ski resort business:
Andre Quenneville, general manager at Mt. Norquay Ski Resort, said it will open on its target date on Friday. He expects to see up to 1,000 people out on the slopes.
Norquay will start with two lifts open, he said, and the rest of the lifts are set to open in the next few weeks.
"It's early season. People want to test their gear and get started for the season. So it's definitely the keeners that are coming out, and we'll be ready for them."
The spokesperson for Banff's Sunshine Village said the operation is aiming to open Nov. 9 — dependent on snow.
Canada Olympic Park ski hill in Calgary is slated to open Nov. 24.