By Laura England, Edmonton Sun
As appeared in the Edmonton Sun's Snow Scene, March 30, 2006
They say it takes a village to raise a child and apparently at Vernon’s Silver Star Mountain Resort, you can also raise some pretty good skiers and boarders too.
Growing up in Edmonton, the whole ski village concept was somewhat lost on us. A ski day was just that – a day on the hill. That’s why a trip to Silver Star is such a treat; park your car, and then forget about it while you wander around by foot to take in the multitude of sights, sounds, tastes and sips.
Oh yeah, and the runs are phenomenal.
Upon our arrival to the multi-colored village of Silver Star, my husband Boyd and I were greeted by Glen MacPherson who graciously agreed to show us around. Being first timers, a guided tour, by an instructor no less, was absolutely invaluable.
Silver Star’s 3,065 skiable acres is divided up into three sections; Vance Creek, Putnam Creek and the new Silver Woods.
MacPherson recognized my intermediate snowboarding ability and took us on to some perfect blue runs in the Putnam Creek area such as Sunny Ridge, Fearn Gully and my favorite, Gypsy Queen.
Those looking for something a little more extreme will not be disappointed as Silver Star has tons of black and double black diamond runs. I peeked over the edge of some of them and they look sufficiently scary.
I justify my lack of velocity and hesitance to ride the bumps by the fact I get to enjoy so much more of the scenery Silver Star has to offer. Wide bowls narrow down to tree lined runs in the blink of an eye. On a clear day the whole of BC’s interior flagrantly displays itself and it is stunning.
With a full afternoon of boarding under our belt, our attention was now turned to the village and what it had to offer. Why not make that belt a little tighter by checking out some of Silver Star’s fabulous eateries? MacPherson continued his tour by pointing out some of his favourite watering holes.
The Silver Lode Inn’s European cuisine is a favourite among the Swiss World Cup team who come to train at Silver Star.
When in Charlie’s Bar doing a little après ski relaxing, take a good look at the framed collection of butter knives. See something out of place?
The Wine Cellar Lounge has been completely transformed by owner Isidore Borgeaud and features an extensive collection of local wine.
Taste the town ’er village
If you don’t have your own personal tour guide like us spoiled media types, you could always check out a Taste of Silver Star held every Monday in the Town Hall Eatery. Here, guests can peruse some of the many things to do, see and taste in the village. It was here I discovered Silver Star has its own art gallery, (the highest in Canada at 1700 m); Gallery Odin, owned by Kalman Molnar.
Our next day on the hill was spent in the Vance Creek area, or what Regional Sales Manager, Robin Baycroft calls, “the Dark Side of the Star.” It was another mirror image of the day before; fantastic conditions, and breathtaking scenery. Only one disappointment however, we didn’t get a chance to take the run named after Baycroft – Robin’s Hood. (I’m guessing it’s the best one on the hill, right Robin?)
The following morning started unusually early for us – 5 a.m. actually. Now what would get us up and out of our cosy room at The Lord Aberdeen Hotel at such an hour? How about a Cat ride up the hill to Paradise Camp, breakfast prepared by a world-class chef, sitting in on a live broadcast by a local Vernon radio station, and a chance to make some fresh tracks? Yeah, that would do it. Thanks a bunch to Heather McLennan, Guest Service & Events Manager for Silver Star for the rock star treatment.
Silver Star’s got the 2010 fever already. National teams from all over the world come to train but a lot of attention is put on the local athletes as well. We were lucky enough to be present for one of the many races held at Silver Star, the Pontiac GM Cup Giant Slalom Race. This race is geared towards grooming Canada’s up and coming medalists and the cash prizes handed out at the end help a bit with the huge costs involved in training.
For those wanting to enjoy this beautiful mountain and take up this sport, Silver Star’s ski school ranks among the best. They have an instructing technique that I, in all my years of writing, (all three of them), have never heard of before.
While on the hill, instructors can video tape their students and show it back to them. When learning, sometimes it takes a totally different view to really see what mistakes we’re making. The final version of the student’s video tape will include footage from that day split screened with an instructor displaying proper technique. Very cool.
This whole village is cool in fact. I loved everything about it from the school bell atop the Town Hall Eatery nicked from Sunshine to the four or so resident dogs. There’s still time to get in a few spring ski runs, but Silver Star also has a very active summer life with mountain biking being the largest draw.
Village life sits well with me and I think being a part of that someday would be pretty much like paradise. Unless of course they dub me the village idiot.