Hugh Geiger, 05/02/2017: The Alberta ski season started early once again, with Nakiska and COP opening mid-November, despite some unseasonably warm weather that resulted in the cancellation of the Lake Louise Winterstart Men’s World Cup events – the first time in 29 years. With Snow Valley opening in early December, all Alberta skiers were out and training hard. The inauspicious start was soon a fading memory as we experienced one of the most epic ski seasons in memory – snow, snow and more snow! The race season began with three events as part of the Alberta Masters’ Race Series: the Nakiska SL on January 15 – “a super fun day of racing in the sunshine”, the 9th Annual Snow Valley Masters’ SL Race on January 22 – “once again great weather and 61 eager competitors” and the Jasper Marmot Basin Masters’ World Cup GS and SL Races on January 28 – 29 – “phenomenal course preparation on challenging terrain, with two days of training before and a day of powder skiing after”. Throw in the Rabbit Hill night GS on March 13 and it’s clear that, this year, Alberta had so many races we couldn’t fit them all in the National Calendar! Many thanks go to the ski hills, organizers, volunteers, sponsors and racers for supporting these events.Next up on the calendar for many Alberta racers was the Over the Hill Downhill on February 4 – 5, at Silver Star in Vernon – “time to dig out your long skis, your race suit and your need for speed”, followed by the Dreadnaught Invitational Masters’ Western Canadian Speed Series on February 12-17, at Kimberley, that was held with IPCAS athletes attending the IPC Canadian and USA National Speed Championships – “6 races over 5 days – tough to beat”. Read the BC race report for more details. The culmination of the season was of course the Rides of March, Western Canadian Masters’ Championships, at Nakiska, that kicked off with a 3 day training camp March 6 – 8 featuring the coaching and video analysis of Claudio Berto, followed by 3 days of racing March 9 -11. The snow gods were perhaps too generous, leading to some challenging training as racers eyed the powder in the glades while honing their race skills in soft conditions. But the racers gathered on the Friday morning of the SG race and dutifully slipped out Mapmaker, leaving a silky-smooth track in their wake. All the races were run without a hitch: 3 runs of SG on Friday, 4 runs of GS on Saturday, a banquet Saturday night and 4 runs of SL on Sunday. Brooks Magnowski and Jan Sekerak fore-ran the GS and SL, with Brooks leaving such deep ruts that Bonnie Weigele – one of the next racers down – compared her runs to her first attempts at wakeboarding. As has become a time-honoured custom, everyone was inspired and humbled by the magnificent skiing of Gerry Whittaker, who himself faced some stiff challenges from a 17 year old ex-FIS racer Adam Gee, soon to join the Masters’ ranks. Thanks once again to Nakiska, the organizers, volunteers, sponsors and racers! We look forward to welcoming everyone back to join us next year!