An interactive tale of the story of Edmonton’s many ski-hills
Written and researched by Kelsey Brick
When I am in a new place, I often find myself staring at Google Maps. Perhaps it is the geographer in me? And, as a recent transplant into the Edmonton community, this is exactly what I was doing when I noticed the customary green and blue ski-run markings at the south-end of the Whitemud Creek Ravine North.
A quick rolling-zoom of my mouse wheel, and there I was (digitally speaking) hovering above an inner-city Edmonton ski hill on Google Maps.
I grew-up in Calgary and have family in Edmonton. When I am not attending classes at the University of Alberta, I live in the small mountain town of Valemount, BC. I have been snowboarding for eighteen years. I am familiar with our Albertan prairie cities and with ski and snowboard culture. I know that inner-city ski hills exist—Calgary’s Canada Olympic Village is one of them, it is a place that hosted events during the 1988 Winter Olympics. Calgary’s western horizon is dominated by a mountain range that is globally associated with skiing—the Rocky Mountains. Ski and snowboard culture feels close to Calgary because there is a history and a physical geography that provides this association.
Perhaps for this reason, I never envisioned skiing or snowboarding in city limits of Edmonton. Edmonton does not have a well-known ski history and its river valleys do not evoke mountainous landscapes. Regardless of my preconceptions, I had found an inner-city ski hill. Now the question was, where can I snowboard here?
A quick Google search provided an easy answer to that question. There are four presently operating ski hills within the Edmonton (area): Sunridge, Snow Valley, Edmonton Ski Club, and Rabbit Hill. But now I was curious: how did Edmonton wound up with four inner-city ski hills?
My quick Google search turned into a deep dive involving hours spent in archives and digital microfilms of historic newspapers. What I did not expect to find was more than one hundred years of rich and well-established Edmonton ski history and culture which included historic references dating back to as early as 1903.
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