Ski season is in full swing, Vancouver! With plenty of snow in the forecast, we talked to two-time Olympian skier and Helly Hansen brand ambassador, Marie-Pier Prefontaine, to get her Olympian-worthy tips on how YOU can make the most of the remaining ski season.

“With everything that’s happening in the world, I feel extremely grateful to be able to enjoy the mountains, so I’m always very careful and stay aware of the COVID rules,” Prefontaine says. “But to be honest, even with all the new rules, it’s so worth it to get out there!”

So, take it from Prefontaine—get outside and get some turns in!

1. Plan Ahead

Right now, lifts are running at all greater Vancouver resorts, but new procedures are in place in order to abide by government regulations and keep visitors safe. By visiting the ski area’s website in advance, you’ll be able to check out their current procedures, make the necessary reservations, and set yourself up for a great day out. Here’s a glimpse of what is required at the local ski areas:

Cypress Mountain: All tickets must be pre-booked, including rentals and lessons
Grouse Mountain Resort: Get your ticket in advance and reserve your Skyride boarding time
Mt Seymour Resort: Must reserve a ticket and parking allocation online for weekends and holidays. Plus, there’s a 4-hour skiing and riding time limit for pass holders and lift ticket purchasers on weekends and holidays.
Whistler: Reservations required

Our insider tip? Plan a mid-week ski day if you can swing it. This will make it easier to get a reservation and avoid the crowds.

2. Stay Local

Luckily for us, here in the greater Vancouver area, we have great access to the mountains. So, instead of traveling right now, make it your goal to explore and get to know the local ski areas really well. There’s plenty of ways to keep things interesting—check out new zones, give night skiing a try, practice your carving or jumping, or hone your skills with the help of a pro.

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Whether you’re looking to up your skill level or get the hang of the basics, Prefontaine suggests hiring a ski or snowboard instructor for a day. “It’s fun to have things to work on for the next time you’ll be out skiing,” she says, “It’s also nice to have goals to work toward for extra motivation to get out and enjoy the day.” Check out each resort’s website to find more details or to book your next lesson with a professional instructor.

3. Find a Mask You Love

Face masks are required at all ski areas when in line, riding the lift, in the parking lot, or inside any buildings or restrooms. Luckily, there are plenty of high-quality, breathable options out there to make this requirement as comfortable as possible!

If you’re looking for a comfortable, waterproof, and breathable mask that you don’t have to worry about fidgeting with, the Helly Hansen Lifa Face Mask (which is made out of the same proprietary LIFA® fabric used in their apparel) is perfect for daily activities and outdoor excursions alike. Plus, all profits on these mask purchases are donated to The Conservation Alliance. (Pro tip: If you shop in-store at Helly Hansen’s Granville Street location, you get a free face mask when you spend $100 or more.)

4. Dress For Success (And To Impress!)

RIght now, lodges are (for the most part) closed, leaving few options for spots to warm up or dry off. This means having the right gear is more important than ever.

“When I ski at resorts I like to be extra warm and cozy,” Prefontaine says. Here’s how she dresses for success:

– A warm pair of ski socks
Helly Hansen Lifa Merino base layers, which pushes moisture away from the skin to keep her warm, dry, and comfortable. “This is my secret weapon for staying warm,” she says.
– A reliable midlayer, like the The Helly Hansen Odin Stretch Hooded Insulator, which is the brand’s most comfortable, light, and soft insulator jacket available.
– A protective outer layer, which, for Prefontaine, is an insulated jacket and ski pants. When looking for ski outerwear, make sure you’re buying breathable, waterproof styles that can withstand the wet, cold weather that Vancouverites can expect while out in the mountains.

5. Don’t Go Hangry – Bring Snacks!

These days, there are endless awesome options for delicious power bars and to-go meals, ranging from the local Hornby Organic Energy Bars and trail mix to jerky and a pre-made sandwich. Avoid the reduced capacity indoor dining at the local ski areas (and save some dollars) by stashing your favorite snacks in your pockets as on-the-go fuel.

You can stick to the basics, or you can get creative. Prefontaine says she likes to bring a thermos of warm soup (Miso Soup being one of her favorites) to have something warm to sip on throughout the day along with some dried fruit.

6. Turn Your Car Into The Ultimate Basecamp

Since you’ll likely be getting ready, eating, and warming up in your car, make sure it’s packed with tons of essentials and really anything else you might want to level-up your experience. Pack plenty of water, your favorite foods and snacks, and extra gear including spare goggles and gloves in case yours get wet.

And of course, what’s everyone’s favorite part of the skiing experience? Après ski, of course!

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Bring everything you need to enjoy a low-key après, including a great music playlist, fancy snacks, non-alcoholic beverages, and comfortable footwear and clothes to change into.

“I can always be found in my Helly Hansen Aspire Puffy Parka after a day of skiing,” Prefontaine says, adding that the oversized parka is incredibly comfortable and warm. Plus, she says that she makes sure to bring a pair of comfortable winter boots since there’s no better feeling than taking your ski boots off after a long day on the hill.

7. Take Your Skiing Off-Piste

With the current COVID restrictions in place, there are a lot more people venturing out into the backcountry to get their turns in. This is a great option for those who already know the local terrain and have the right gear and the proper training but can be dangerous to those who aren’t properly prepared.

If you are looking to explore the backcountry, first make sure to take an Avalanche Safety or Training course like the ones offered by Coast Mountain Guides. This will introduce you to the skills and techniques needed and give you increased confidence when making decisions in avalanche terrain.

Or, you can hire an expert guide from Coast Mountain Guides for a day trip to get away from the crowds and find the best powder around!

So, there you have it Vancouver. We want to give a special shout out to our friends at Helly Hansen and to Olympian Marie-Pier Prefontaine for this awesome list of tips and tricks!

Helly Hansen has all the gear you’ll need to make this your best ski season ever, so visit their brand store location at 766 Granville Street or the outlet at Queensborough Landing to stock up on everything from their warm, comfortable, and waterproof jackets and base layers to gloves, hats, après clothing. (Plus, if you mention this article you’ll get 10% off your purchase!)

Remember to have fun and stay safe this ski season!