Chase Olympic dreams in Quebec
Story by Ilona Kauremszky
Vacay.ca Senior Writer
SAINT-SAUVEUR-DES-MONTS, QUEBEC — The pistes of Saint-Sauveur-des-Monts showcase where skiing first started in Quebec. Packed with five ski hills, this small Laurentian village was where Fred Pabst in 1934 installed the first ski lift on Hill 70, which rapidly became one of the most popular ski destinations in eastern North America.
Since then tackling these slopes has become a favourite pastime. Take your pick with ski thrills at five extraordinary resorts: Mont Saint Sauveur, Mont Olympia, Ski Morin Heights, Mont Avila, and Ski Mont Gabriel, where Olympian Alexandre Bilodeau is known to frequent. Bilodeau will forever be remembered as the first Canadian to win a gold medal on native soil. He took the men’s moguls title at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. He skied at Canada Post’s Freestyle Grand Prix Ski at Mont Gabriel a couple of years ago.
You can make like an Olympic champ when you ski and stay here. Here’s a closer look at one of these outstanding spots.
Undoubtedly the white powder of Mont Saint Sauveur is bar none the petri-dish for Canada’s Olympians and World Cup moguls competitors like Mikael Kingsbury and Jean-Luc Brassard. That’s no surprise when you factor the resort has the most sophisticated snow-making systems in North America, including the world’s largest night-skiing area.
For early birds, the popular spot blasts the snow guns if necessary and offers skiers the longest ski season in Quebec. We like the five extreme runs like the Rockstar MSS Snowpark created by rad Shakedown creators. It’s very challenging for snowboarders and freestylers alike.
For those who don’t want to practice freestyling at Mont Saint Sauveur, look no further than Alpine Coaster Viking, an insane toboggan ride, the only one of its kind in Canada that’ll have you break the sound barrier as you rip on a track at full G-force breakneck speed. This winter activity has got to be bobsled’s close cousin as you careen the 1.5-kilometre course at 56 km/h (35 mph) and descend 1,085 metres (3,560 feet) through pretty white powder.
Over by Ski Mont Gabriel, the 18 trails are primed for zany acrobatic moves. Revered as the cradle for acrobatic skiing in Canada, the permanent training facility has a fabulous ski-in and ski-out chalet, so you literally can ski all day and night. The longest trail (1.1 km, or 0.68 miles) Laframboise is pleasant and an easy run for those who don’t have Olympic aspirations.
Getting Here: Mont Saint-Sauveur and the Laurentian hills are about 75 kilometres (47 miles) northwest of Montreal. (see map below)
Where to Stay
Manoir Saint Sauveur: With a free shuttle that takes five minutes to reach the mountain, the four-star Manoir Saint Sauveur is a landmark manor that recently added 26 spacious suites at the new chalet called the Avoriaz. Amenities range from free wireless Internet to stone-faced fireplaces to 26-inch plasma TVs, and king beds in all suites. The heated bathroom floor with a stunning whirlpool bath is ultra decadent. Locals dig the indoor pool, the Finnish sauna, and the full-service Spa du Manoir, styled in muted tones.
Contact: 1-800-361-0505 (toll free) or 450-227-1811; www.manoir-saint-sauveur.com