For more than a century, the Edmonton Ski Club has helped Edmontonians hit the slopes in the heart of the city’s scenic river valley. In that time, the club has faced its fair share of uphill journeys — and not just those made easier by a tow rope. The Club, which first opened in 1911, was forced to close in 2017 due to operational challenges and mounting maintenance costs for its aging facilities.
After missing two ski seasons, it reopened again in December 2019, this time with renewed energy and community support from both the City of Edmonton and the Government of Alberta. For Adam Luciuk, who joined the club as its general manager in November 2019, the reopening was a rebirth of sorts; a chance for the aging organization to start anew.
“This was really an opportunity for the club to refocus a bit. It allowed us to work with the greater community to diversify our services and better meet what people want and need,” he says.
The key to the Ski Club’s continued success, he notes, is collaboration and creativity. The organization’s Board of Directors used the closure period to rebuild and develop a strategic plan for the coming years. Since reopening, they’re taking an innovative approach to encourage year-round operations and greater financial sustainability. By collaborating with other local organizations and events, such as Flying Canoë Volant, the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, and the Cloverdale Community League, the Club is making the river valley a year-round destination.
“We had a chance to look at what other parts of the community were doing and adjust our offerings. Now in the winter, we’re expanding our ski and snowboard programs, we’ve opened a tube park and snow school for all ages and skill levels,” says Luciuk. “In the summer, we’re operating a bike service and repair shop, along with an outdoor family-friendly patio. We’re in a good position to help people enjoy the river valley, year round.”
The Club’s central location offers users easy access to recreation in the heart of the city. When the Valley Line LRT opens, the nearest stop will be a mere 400m from the hill, meaning that a day on the slopes — whether in winter or summer — will just be a short train ride away.
“We want to create opportunities for families and individuals to get into the sport. We’re really in a unique position in terms of easily accessible activities,” says Luciuk. “We’ve had at least one Olympian start out here — maybe now we’ll see more.”
The Sage Seniors Association was one of the first organizations to work with SEF back in our earliest days.