'Tis the season to hit the slopes, your way

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Columbia - TWN (Heading Out)

Are you shredding down the slopes at full speed, enjoying a smooth glide on powdery snow, or snuggling up to a campfire with steaming hot chocolate in hand? Whatever the adventure, it’s yours for the taking on the mountain.

Whether you’re carving down the slopes of a mountain or getting your feet wet for the very first time, heading outdoors for the sheer fun of it is what embracing Canadian winter on the mountains is all about.

Skiing and Snowboarding: A Thrilling Yet Accessible Sport

“I think the biggest smile on my face ever is when I am skiing on a big powder day,” explained The Weather Network content creator, Mia Gordon, a resident of Squamish, B.C.

Gordon is well aware that no matter the weather, winter presents an invitation for an outdoor adventure.

“Whether it’s raining or snowing, you can always have a great time on the mountains… you could be doing it for your first time or you could be 90-years-old. There’s terrain for everyone on the mountains,” Gordon continued.

Peter Smart, owner of Extremely Canadian, a ski instruction school located in Whistler, BC, has transformed his childhood passion for the peaks into a successful career.

“Skiing has always been a pastime for me, it was like babysitting for my parents,” Smart said with a laugh.

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While Smart is used to teaching adventurous skiers to tackle the slopes with more confidence, it's understandable that staring down any size slope can be daunting for beginners. After all, this sport is known for its mountain thrills. However, once you master the basics, skiing and snowboarding can be a thrilling adventure for anyone, regardless of age or experience level.

“For the Canadian who has never actually tried skiing before but is interested, I would want them to think of that rush they got the first time they played in the snow; you could have that feeling all day and every day,” explained Smart.

Imagine swooshing down the snow-covered peaks, feeling the cool mountain breeze, and voila! You've just invited a whole load of health benefits into your life.

Spending a day on the slopes and inhaling the fresh mountain air can work wonders for your health. Both skiing and snowboarding are recognized for their ability to improve your body's balance, strengthen your muscles, and promote mental well-being.

“It’s a gravity-fed sport... You get to the top, and you choose how much you want to bite off on the way down. As long as you’re out there having fun and enjoying the mountains, you can make it as exhilarating as you want,” Smart continued.

Preparing for a day on the slopes involves more than just gearing up. Dressing for the weather is also crucial for a comfortable experience. Layering up with several pieces of clothing allows you to adjust your body temperature accordingly. This way, you can easily swap your jacket for a sweater or vice versa to maintain the perfect balance.

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Dressing for the weather is crucial for a comfortable ski or snowboard experience. (Photo courtesy of Columbia)

Keep Calm and Glide On

When conquering the mountain, you are in control of your own journey. You choose the speed and terrain that suit your level of ability, but cross-country skiing is a great option for beginners. Get your ski legs under you and build up to more advanced trails.

“It’s nice to start on flat terrain with gentle uphills and downs so people and kids can get comfortable with climbs and descending. Keeping it simple in terms of technique, being able to shuffle forward, having a feel for the glide, and being able to stop,” explained Catherine Aird, Marketing Manager with Whistler Olympic Park.

“To be on the mountains in the sunshine, the fun of gliding on snow is a beautiful exercise, and it’s nice to have hot chocolate afterwards,” continued Aird.

Don’t worry about looking like a pro; it’s all part of the journey. Take on new challenges and make winter your playground after all; letting loose and having fun is what heading out to the mountains is all about, and who knows, you may discover some hidden talents along the way.

Mia Gordon with husband Connor

The Weather Network's Mia Gordon and husband Connor like to toast up after a day spent on the mountains. (The Weather Network)

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A Sweet Après-Ski Escape

Toasting after a day spent on the hill is a staple part of ski culture, where you can sink into a comfy chair and swap mountain stories. Although the origins of après-ski culture can be traced back to Norway, it is now a tradition that stretches across the alpine world, serving as the perfect end to a magical winter day and carving out memories.

“I have seen the gambit throughout my lifetime,” joked Smart.

“I think it’s amazing; there really isn't anything like it. After you spend a day in the mountains, with the wind on your face and snow down your back, there’s nothing like cuddling up around the fire with marshmallows. And for the moms and dads out there, maybe something special in the coffee too,” explained Smart.

The mountain offers a variety of experiences for everyone, from thrilling adventures to relaxing escapes and an opportunity to bond with friends at the base.

Whether you’re a seasoned pro, a first-timer on the slopes, or have a love for campfire stories, a snowy adventure that speaks to your soul awaits you on the mountain.