Further to our March 15th decision to suspend Ski Area Operations, after careful consideration of the quickly changing circumstances around Coronavirus (COVID-19), Resorts of the Canadian Rockies has made a decision to suspend ski resort operations for the remainder of the 2019/20 ski season at our Western Canadian Resorts, including Nakiska Ski Area, Fernie Alpine Resort, Kimberley Alpine Resort and Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. Here at RCR our number one priority is the safety, health and well-being of our Guests, Team Members, and the Communities which we live, work and play in. As tough a decision as this has been, we feel it is the right thing to do under the current circumstance.
In an effort to limit social interaction we will not be opening our guest service and ticket offices for the time being, both at resorts and our Calgary office. For questions regarding purchased products please email the address below (In response to this situation we are receiving an overwhelming volume of calls and emails, your patience is appreciated as work respond to these requests).
We sincerely apologize to you our guests for this inconvenience.As always, we truly appreciate the support which we receive from you and thank you for that. We will look forward to welcoming you back to our resorts and Mountain Communities in the future.
President/Chief Resorts Officer
Resorts of the Canadian Rockies
“3, 2, 1 dropping.”
“Nope, just kidding, I’m not ready yet,” I slowly exhaled sizing up the drop
“Are you sure I can do this? It looks so much bigger from up here!” and so went two days of chatter directed toward our ever-patient instructor at the Rippin’ Betties Freeride Camp.
I had never taken a lesson before, so I was very keen to jump into the women-only two-day program aimed at level 5 and 6 skiers. I didn’t know what level of skier I was, but because I was game to ski anywhere on the mountain, I figured I’d be alright in spite of my flailing arms. It was humbling, exciting, and left me obsessing over off-piste terrain. Skiing has always been a fun pastime for me, but I’ve never felt like such a student of the sport. Ever since pulling off my boots Sunday evening, I have been on YouTube, surfing the web and flipping through the pages of Ski Canada to ensure I drop my backseat ski habit. There also couldn’t have been a better setting than Kicking Horse to improve big mountain skiing. Everything about that mountain is big – and in turn, my fun little pastime turned into big fun.
All age groups were well represented in the camp, but it was especially inspiring watching women with a couple of decades of experience on me fly down aggressive chutes with textbook turns. Everyone had their own reasons for joining the camp, some wanted to gain a better understanding of the giant mountain and learn where the cliff bands lie on the black and double black terrain. Others wanted to finally unlock those hips and gain a more even weight transition as they sailed between tightly spaced trees. A few just wanted to be pushed to take on steeper and deeper terrain than they were normally willing to tackle or take on drops with confidence. Regardless of our reasons for joining, we all left having become apart of a sisterhood of shred.
“It’s like you’re constantly being egged on, but in such a supportive way,” noted Kate, a University of Calgary graduate student who was enjoying all the little drops and powder stashes during the camp before attending the pro patroller camp the following week.
We spent time chatting, and sometimes gasping, as we hiked for untouched powder.
The views, camaraderie, and snow were worth every minute. Instructor, former National Spanish Team Skier, Elana Acuña spent the last several years skipping summer altogether. Instead, she catches a plane each spring (of which she experiences twice yearly, one in lieu of fall) to the other hemisphere to coach and skis the winter away. Our group would giggle behind her as she would assure us that the double black diamond we were about to drop into on a Northern Ridge was in fact, “easy.” Laugh as we might at her laid back attitude regarding what we viewed as very intense skiing, we still knew she wouldn’t take us anywhere we wouldn’t be safe. She somehow both assured us of our fears and lit a fire of passion under us. As a result, I had some of the most fun skiing days of my life. She was knowledgeable, easy-going, kind and funny – not to mention an absolute monster on skis!
I was definitely one of the weaker skiers, but still game to tackle all the camp had to offer. As are most things in life, skiing isn’t as much about what you are capable of doing, but what you think you are capable of doing. There were a few women uncomfortable in some of the really challenging terrain and experienced nervousness they struggled to work past. Quickly the instructors assigned to our camp asked for a third coach to join us and we split into three groups ensuring everyone a positive and fun learning environment.
In short, if you’ve been thinking about trying a camp like this stop thinking about it and sign up. I might just be sitting in the gondola next to you – I’ve been scheming on my next camp since that first run on the first day.
Keeping a ski resort free of inbound avalanches is all about prevention
It’s early. As in, the sun hasn’t even thought about rising for the day. But if there was any snowfall last night, the safety team at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is already at the office deciding what to do. Their office? All 3400 acres of puff that can go poof. The last thing the team wants to see is a cornice crumble and sweep down the slope potentially endangering the lives they are protecting.
Steve Crowe, one of the members of the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort safety team knows firsthand that being caught in an avalanche is unpleasant. He was caught in two on the same morning. But here is the difference between Crowe and the rest of us. He is highly skilled, is prepared with all the avi gear he needs and knew what he was doing.
“It was early season conditions and we were assessing the stability of the snow, trying to weaken the snow load. I was anticipating the slope to slide so I was prepared and was able to stay safe,” said Crowe. “When we ski cut, we always work in pairs. One person will quickly cut across a small slope from a safe spot to another safe spot testing the movement while the other patroller stays out of the zone but watches. Usually, we feel the snow move and can move away quickly. On both of these avalanches, because of my training, I was able to stay above the snow. If I thought I was in any danger, I would not have gone onto the slope.”
The safety team includes the mountain manager, the avalanche forecaster, the mountain safety team lead and a whole bunch of patrollers with specific roles. Each bowl from Super Bowl all the way over to the newly opened Rudi’s Bowl has an avalanche technician monitoring the bowl all day, reporting back to the avalanche forecaster.
“There are two places on the ‘It’s a Ten’ road that have to be maintained for avalanche control each day. The knob right at the top where almost everyone heading towards Crystal Bowl uses and a corner called G7 at the egress of skiers using Feuz Bowl further down. Those spots have to be clear for snowmobiles and groomers,” says Crowe. A normal day starts at 7:30 but if there was snow overnight, a crew shows up at 6:30 so they have plenty of time to push off the excess snow and set off the bombs.
Lobbing bombs for a living can be cool
Ah yes, the bombs. Crowe admits there is an adrenalin rush working with explosives.
“Throwing the bomb is pretty thrilling. It’s quite the adrenalin rush – especially when you have a result. You are torn though. You want to make the slope safe, but you are also taking off some pretty great snow.”
An avalanche is trigged in a few different ways by the team. Usually, they throw 1 or 2 kg bombs onto start zones, but for the road control a tripod is set up There is a small detonator with a meter-long fuse on it. That is lit by an igniter giving the team at least 2 and a half minutes to get clear of the area. The air blast caused by the explosion will hopefully release the snow. If there has been a heap of snowfall overnight, a helicopter from Golden is called in. “Big snow days we bring in the helicopter to hit a lot of areas quickly and get the terrain open. A helicopter can do in 20 minutes what a crew would do in a day. But if there is no visibility, we still have to send the team out,” says Crowe. There are guns aimed at closed areas and wires hung across some slopes that are used to send explosives further down the slope before they ignite.
The terrain is opened in a sequence that caters to the most people first so that’s Crystal Bowl, Bowl Over and CPR Ridge. The avalanche control will move out from those prime locations trying to avoid pockets of closures.
Crowe says they take care of the macro avalanches. The smaller pockets that could sluff are in chutes and slopes where people using it are usually capable of riding out a small avalanche.
“”People get mad when we are slow to open terrain, but we have to think of everyone’s safety. Yes, we are overly cautious – but we have to be. We put up as much rope with tons of signs as possible which either delineates the end of the resort property or a closure. If people duck under our boundary ropes to go out of the resort area, that’s fine, hopefully they are prepared. But inbounds, a rope with signage means a slope or run is closed. If people choose to duck under those ropes (they are called poachers by the patrollers) they know the slope is shut for a reason. We can’t protect people who don’t respect our efforts,” says Crowe. “If poachers are caught, we have zero-tolerance. If they have a season pass, it’s frozen for three weeks.”
Prevention is an all-day effort
Crowe says as the avalanche forecaster the day starts in the office creating the initial plan of attack, but the rest of the day is out looking for spots and assessing the potential for avalanches. He’ll dig snow pits and check the snow characteristics always asking, “Did the forecast match what is going on?” As much as they rely on data and education, gut feeling is also a major component and that comes with experience.
The forecaster can’t just think about how yesterday’s storm is affecting today. There are so many layers of snow under that last dump that add to the story. Crowe says they have to think about how the weather has impacted the other layers. If snow came down warm on a broken surface, it bonds. If the surface has melted and refrozen, it creates a crust that can contribute to a weak layer beneath the next snowfalls. It’s all about preventing that release from happening when the slope is open.
“The safest slope is the one skied the most. If you see a rope across a run with that sign saying the slope is closed, it’s for a better reason than saving freshies for the weekend.”
So, what can patrons at mountain resorts do to stay safe? Simple. At the ski resorts, ski between the lines and follow the rules. If a chute or a run or a ridge within the resort boundaries is marked closed for the day, the season or forever, it’s for good reason. If you don’t want to feel the confines of the fences, the backcountry is the perfect place to get fresh tracks. Take avalanche awareness courses, load up on all the avalanche gear you can find and then, get out there. But make sure you come home to tell the story.
Learn more about avalanche safety by checking out Avalanche Canada
Don’t stare at the Kicking Horse trail map for too long. The diamond glare might hurt your eyes as in 39 black diamonds to go with 60, yes 6-0, double-black runs. It’s no surprise the very same topography that defines this mountain provides what most consider the best backcountry fodder in the world. There’s really no other way to put it, the Horse’s badassedness resides in a corral all its own.
Like everyone I know who’s skied here I still vividly remember my first time. I was heading to the backcountry out of Golden for a few days so I figured I’d warm-up at Kicking Horse, ease my legs into my boots before tackling the challenging stuff deep in the Purcell Range. I hadn’t bothered to look at the trail map, figuring one interior B.C. ski area was pretty much like any other Powder Highway stop. After my first 4,000-plus foot vertical descent I suddenly felt like that kid who hadn’t bothered to study for a test only to enter class and discover it was the final exam. (Come to think of it I was that kid!)
My saving grace on the mountain was the justification that cutting down blue Sluiceway and Cloud Nine all day would preserve my lactic acid for what was to come. In other words, I had a ready to excuse take it easy. “Let’s stick to the bowls and gullies,” I suggested to my partner, an outstanding skier who doubles as a Seattle architect. “There’s no reason to pop onto the ridgelines given where we’re heading.”
He readily agreed.
I didn’t harbor the same excuse the next time I pulled into Golden and, truth be told (again!), my previous backcountry foray had paled in comparison to the “warm up” terrain anyway. On that day I’d peeked at all the chutes just below Eagle’s Eye Restaurant off CPR Ridge with a ready excuse to avoid them. Not so this trip. It was time to see what all the hype was about, the chatter about the regular Freeski IFSA Nationals held here and the 100+ diamond runs that glitter like the studs in David Beckham’s ears.
It may sound strange but CPR Ridge reminds me a little of the coral reef in Indonesia. Though individually named, the chutes are so abundant they’re just listed as 49-64 on the trail map. What recalls diving in Komodo National Park is their diversity, not simply this ladder or that gap. One could spend the day floating around down “Spurline,” “Iron Horse” or, my favorite, “Craigellachie” and never get bored.
The mundane does not actually exist anywhere at Kicking Horse, one of those rare resorts where you can ski every terrain type on a single run, an unanticipated virtue, at least by me, of skiing a hill top-to-bottom on a regular basis. I’d sum it up this way, to steal a cliché and turn a few stomachs: Kicking Horse is a little bit backcountry and a little bit rock and roll.
“Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.”
Words by Crai Bower
Photos by Felix Dallaire & Nick Nault
There’s no convincing needed when it comes to visiting Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. It sells itself with its diverse terrain selection, impressive annual snowfall and stunning location – the only question is when to experience it all. In reality there’s no bad time to visit Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, its alpine peaks and deep snowpack will surely impress all season long. But here’s why January midweek is prime time.
LOTS OF SNOW
According to WeatherSpark, the most snow for the Kicking Horse region happens the first three weeks of January – hello reliable powder days! After the previous two months of snow you can count on a solid base meaning if not all, the majority of the resort will be wide open for shredding. With the snow stacking quickly this time of year you can count on getting in on some fresh stuff and watching the mountain transform into an even snowy-er wonderland before your eyes – well what you can see between face shots that is!
Past the winter solstice, January offers more daylight than the months preceding it, but with out the heat associated with sunlight in the spring. What does this mean for you? Long full days of daylight filled with chilled quality champagne powder preserved day after day.
Let’s talk about this whole midweek thing. Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is known for delivering access to sensational snow and terrain with out the lines, imagine having no lines. Well if you visit in January you won’t have to image. Typically January is a quieter time of year for travel, which means more of the mountain for yourself, especially mid week when all of the weekend warriors will be working.
Just in case the whole daylight, snow stats and private resort concept wasn’t enough to convince you that Kicking Horse Mountain Resort midweek in January is the time to go, the deals certainly will. Lodging packages range from 20-50% off midweek this time of year. And we all know that the best feeling after a full day on the slopes is knowing that you can ski to your on mountain accommodations and soak in the hot tub with out a worry in the world.
All this talk about January has us feeling antsy to get through the holidays and into the snowiest month of the year! Speaking of holidays, a little trip to Kicking Horse in January sounds like an excellent gift for you and your favourite ski or snowboard partner, wink wink.
Words + Photos by Abby Cooper
The Horse is back with more kick than ever! With our recent expansion, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort can now offer 4314 feet of vertical descent – the 5th biggest vertical in North America!
Here are the fast facts:
- 4314 feet (1314 meters) of vertical
- 3486 acres of skiable terrain
- 8218 feet (2504 meters) at top elevation
- 5 alpine bowls
- Endless Champagne Powder
Dialing up for this coming winter, Kicking Horse’s new terrain includes the legendary Ozone South face (made famous as the competition venue for last year’s Freeride World Tour event) and Middle Ridge, offering fantastic turns into both Feuz Bowl and the adjacent Rudi’s Bowl. This is Canada’s BIGGEST expansion in skiable terrain – a loud and large 660 acres of new, rowdy skiing! 660 acres that embody what Kicking Horse represents: adventurous terrain offering challenges to all skiers and riders.
To access Ozone, skiers and riders will hike up to Whitewall, ski/ride down to the saddle and hike up to the top of the face. For Middle Ridge, a dedicated bootpack will head up from the bottom of Feuz Bowl. Big rewards will be available to those happy to do a little hiking!
Like all of our existing terrain, these features will be opened and closed at the discretion of our Mountain Safety team, allowing for the necessary avalanche control to be completed so that we can all play safely!
This would not be possible without the incredible support of Purcell Heli-Skiing, who will be offering their beautiful brand of small-group heli-skiing from the base of Kicking Horse this winter! Adventures abound from The Horse – the finest marriage of lift and heli-accessed terrain around!
We want to give fair warning now: when these features are opened, you will not want to be sitting in the day lodge. This is some of the most exciting in-bounds terrain you will ever make turns on, so do not miss out! Going forward into this winter season and beyond, Kicking Horse will boast more inspiring and vast terrain than any one pair of skis can handle!
So, have you started waxing your skis and boards yet?
You’ve read all the stats: 4,133 feet of vertical, 2,800 acres and over 120 marked runs. You know that on average the place gets 24 feet of snow each season. You even know it’s got the fifth highest vertical drop in North America—just six feet shy of Jackson Hole’s. But for some reason you’ve still never been to Kicking Horse. OK, Maybe you’re unmoved by stats. But did you also know the last two seasons the snowfall has actually exceeded 33 feet? And that the resort just absorbed an entire new bowl into its tenure that used to be heli-ski terrain? And that Kicking Horse is now on the Epic Pass?
As winters get more temperamental around the globe, and multi-area passes give us more mobility, devotees of powder will want to take note that El Niño is coming—the warm period in the Pacific Ocean’s shifty mood cycle. And while that often spells gloom for the lower 48, Kicking Horse has historically been in the sweet spot during El Niño winters: never too hot, never too cold, and above average for snowfall. Perched along the rugged spine of the Purcell Mountains, the resort is uniquely positioned in a climatic zone that Mountain Safety Supervisor Kyle Hayle calls “conterior”—a hearty mix of “interior and continental conditions.”
Only 2.5 hours from Calgary International Airport, what you get is a weatherproof series of crescent promontories drawn from the pages of history, only a snowball’s throw from the birthplace of North American mountaineering—Rogers Pass. After 19 years quietly drawing upon a big-mountain legacy brought forth by turn-of-the-century Swiss guides and mountaineers like Syd Feuz (the namesake of one of the mountain’s best bowls) Kicking Horse is flaunting its alpine identity more than ever.
You can see it in the complex avalanche control program—one of the largest in North America—that prioritizes getting guests right to the goods the day of the storm: no waiting for the top to open. And you can see it on the Freeride World Tour (FWT), where the resort is the only North American five-star stop, and for good reason.
“Kicking Horse Mountain Resort boasts Canada’s steepest and burliest terrain, all coated with its famous ‘champagne powder,’” says Freeride World Tour Senior Communication Manager Emile Lavoie.
The expansive string of alpine amphitheatres with a game-on philosophy and low-key vibe makes it more akin to skiing the backcountry than any other resort in North America. With the recent absorption of adjacent terrain from Purcell Heli-skiing, that’s ever more true. It’ll eventually add 660 acres, boost the top elevation to 4,460 feet, and add a fifth alpine bowl with cruisy south-facing slopes all above treeline. While the mountain has yet to announce what part of that will open this winter, look no further than last year’s FWT stop at Kicking Horse for an idea of what the rowdiest bits could look like—it was the mountain’s first foray into the spine-tingling new zone.
What will be yours?
Let’s get straight to the point; winter tends to overstay its welcome. With major snowstorms lasting into April earlier this year, Mother Nature definitely took longer than expected to bestow warmer temperatures upon us Canadians.
Living in this wonderful, snowy nation, there are some crucial lessons to learn in order to thrive in the ‘Great White North’. Most importantly, is realizing the importance of making the best of your environment and conditions (especially the long winter months we so often endure).
Our initial instincts are to stay warm and cozy during blizzard-stricken months, huddled indoors with blankets, warm drinks, a crackling fire and taking in an unhealthy amount of Netflix, while silently praying that our neighbour or significant other will shovel the walkway. Winters have such great potential though, why surrender such glorious opportunities to see the remarkable beauty Canada boasts in its backyard?
Exploring the outdoors throughout all four of our Canadian seasons is a revitalizing experience for us, which should be taken advantage of to refresh our frame of mind. It’s a chance to discover new adventures just a snowball’s throw away. We’re all familiar with making the most of warm temperatures during the summer months with patio season and backyard lounging in full swing. The winter landscape can be just as inspiring too, when given the chance.
If you need more convincing, here are a few of Canada’s premiere winter activity destinations:
Fernie, British Columbia
The shops, cafés, restaurants and pubs along 2nd Avenue in Fernie are some of the Canadian Rockies’ hidden gems, with surrounding mountain peaks looming over the glow of its downtown streets.
Located just down the road, Fernie Alpine Resort is home to some of Canada’s most legendary powder, with an average snowfall of 30ft. From epic downhill skiing to leisurely snowshoe and groomed cross-country skiing trails, the resort has activities for the whole family. It also offers plenty of weekly programs to get you outside and even yoga classes to help you find your winter Zen. Their on-mountain accommodations along with a local shuttle to town make for a perfect introduction to Canada’s winter activities.
Kimberley, British Columbia
If you’re looking for a classic mountain town, you’ve found it. The town of Kimberley embodies the Canadian spirit with humble, welcoming locals and a relentless passion for nature. Kimberley is home to craft beers, great local dining, the oldest building in Canada and a variety of activities to enjoy outside.
With stunning scenery of the Kootenay mountains, Kimberley Alpine Resort is just minutes from town and offers great facilities and terrain for people of all skiing and snowboarding ability levels – from first-timers to seasoned slope shredders. Looking to stay on level ground? Try the area’s expansive snowshoe trails, cross-country skiing network or check out fat biking, one of North America’s favourite new activities (mountain bikes with wider tires for better grip in snow conditions).
Golden, British Columbia
One of the most famed locations along the Powder Highway, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and the town of Golden are conveniently located along the TransCanada Highway and ready to provide you a mountain experience like no other. Drop into Whitetooth Brewing Co. for locally crafted beers, or the Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre for an up-close learning session with these amazing animals.
Delving deeper into nature, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort offers Canada’s highest dining experience, the Eagle’s Eye Restaurant at 7,700ft. Once you’re fueled up, hit the slopes of the Catamount Chair to learn the basics on your skis or snowboard, or bring your little ones to the tube park and natural ice rink at the base of the resort. Advanced skiers head to the top via the gondola for wide ranging bowls, ridges and chutes. If staying grounded is your preference, Golden is primed with world-class snowmobiling, along with plenty of rentals and tours available.
Life’s too short – and winters are too long – to miss out on a lifetime of adventure. Let winter activities revitalize your soul and help you look forward to the inevitable snowfalls each year. Meet Mother Nature halfway on this one and discover how rewarding Canada’s winter climates can truly be.
It’s about time we give “Golden Girls” a new meaning. Say goodbye to the endearing, ageless women of TV lore, and say hello to a new adventure destination for ladies who love to get away from it all, but want to be part of the action.
Small town mountain vibes? Check. Great dining? Check. Adventures galore? Check. Adrenalin will take you anywhere in this town, and if you like having options, Golden is the place to be.
Here’s a five to one checklist of why Golden BC is the perfect girls’ adventure destination.
Five National Parks: Golden is surrounded by five National Parks: Yoho, Banff, Jasper, Glacier and Kootenay, each with a distinct feel. You could spend a lifetime in these five world-class parks and still not explore it all.
More Than Four Thousand Vertical Feet: Kicking Horse Mountain Resort offers 4,133 feet of vertical, to be exact. With more than 120 runs, even the most athletic skiers can find their challenge. Your legs will be begging for apres-ski by the time you hear last chair being called.
Thirty-Three Kilometres of Nordic Trails: Check out the Dawn Mountain Nordic Centre, where 33km of skate and classic ski trails surrounding Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. Its base is less than 1 km from the main resort ski base, and includes a warming hut chalet.
Confluence of Two Rivers: Nestled at the confluence of the Columbia and Kicking Horse Rivers, Golden has that feeling of being tucked away in the mountains. Once in town, check out great dining options such as Eleven22 Restaurant and The Wolf’s Den.
One single gondola ride up to the summit: The Golden Eagle Express Gondola will whisk you to the summit in one easy ride. Once you’re there, get ready, it’s a long way down to the base, with a seemingly endless number of runs to choose from. Or, enjoy dining on top of the world at the Eagle’s Eye Restaurant, located at the top of the Golden Eagle Express Gondola. Known as “Canada’s most elevated dining experience”, you’ll be welcomed by 360 degree views, where you can sip on champagne as you gaze out to some of the world’s best champagne powder. The restaurant is open daily for lunch visits, and Friday, Saturdays and holidays for dinner. Reservations are highly recommended.
Ready to pack your bags? Don’t miss these other adventures in the Golden area, ranked from mild to wild:
Mild: Stroll across Golden’s beautiful pedestrian bridge as you explore the shops and restaurants of town.
Spicy: Ever wanted to walk with wolves? You’ll get your chance at the Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre, located in the Blaeberry Valley just outside of Golden. Advance bookings required.
Wild: Take on “Truth and Dare”, also known as runs #94 and #95 at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. These two runs are rated double black diamond, and are a locals’ favourite. They’re home to the Helly Hansen “Wrangle the Chute” Four-Star Freeride World Qualifier. These steep, rugged, narrow chutes are reserved for only the most experienced skiers.
The perfect combo for skiers- new snow & warm temps is what has kicked off 2018 in Golden, B.C., making Kicking Horse Mountain Resort a winter wonderland. Now is the most amazing time of the year, start your year off the right way, with Mountain Time!
With some of the deepest snow in North America right in our backyard. This season kicked into high gear with record setting early snow and continued throughout the holidays, our total snowfall to date is over 17 feet with nearly 30 cms in just the last week. Plus with the warm temperatures hitting the mountains, don’t wait – ride the horse now!
Even more gifts on the way with the winter 2018 storm track focused on the Powder Highway region, weather forecasts show more snow on the way by this weekend.
Take your own turns in our Winter Wonderland with special offers & vacation packages, book now as the ski bums will tell you that January is one of the best Months to ski!