The Ski Friend program began at Lake Louise Ski Resort in 1978. Its purpose, to enhance the skiing experience by taking skiers on complimentary tours of the ski area, is unchanged today. Significantly, Lake Louise was the first ski resort in the world to offer such a program to its guests.
At the time, skiers did not often venture to the back side, far side or Temple area, where the conditions were often better than the front side (Whitehorn) runs. When snowmaking improved early and late season conditions considerably, the Ski Friend tours continued due to the program’s success and popularity.
Barb Spear and Patti Weightman were the founders of the program. Their husbands, volunteer ski patrollers, suggested the idea of forming a volunteer group to offer complimentary ski tours. They negotiated an agreement and program guideline with the resort’s General Manager, Rodney Touche and Area Manager, John Worrall and launched the Ski Friends program. They began recruiting other “Friends” and as soon as enough qualified volunteers signed on, daily Ski Friend tours were offered.
Skiers and tour volunteers were mutually pleased with the program from the beginning. Skier guests were quick to give positive and appreciative comments to area employees and management while volunteers enjoyed touring guests around the mountain, finding and skiing the best runs and conditions for their tour participants.
From a handful of eight active volunteers in the first year the group quickly grew to over 100. An executive board formed to administer the program and also to select and train new volunteers. Socializing among Ski Friends is an important aspect of the program.
In the late 70s, Lake Louise was competing mostly for the Calgary market. Today Lake Louise is a top choice for international visitors. Many have returned yearly to Lake Louise because of the Ski Friend program.
The quality of tours offered by Ski Friends is unsurpassed. From intermediate skiers/riders to advanced skiers and riders looking for a challenging adventure, a free morning or afternoon tour is available.
Ski Friend volunteers are a diverse group but all are committed to enhancing the ski experience with an intimate knowledge of the four mountain faces of the resort but also a wealth of knowledge of the history of Lake Louise and Banff National Park, the flora and fauna and most every subject that interests international and local guests.
Many Ski Friends have 'friended' for decades and returning guests are pleased to be greeted by familiar friends. In fact, it is the Ski Friends program that keeps many people coming back!