The promise of cross-country skiing and a few jumps helps one northwest Calgary family get the kids out of bed on winter school mornings.

The Copeland family lives just a park away from Collingwood Elementary School — and they ski to school.

"We quite like skiing. We're kind of an exploratory family. We like playing a lot, so it really just feels like playing on the way to school, finding joy in the journey to get there," mother Lisel Copeland told the Calgary Eyeopener.

"There's no pressure, but to be honest, it's a great way to get the kids up in the morning. I say, 'Hey, do you want to go skiing?' 'Oh yeah!' And then they're pretty interested in hanging out outside."

Lisel Copeland

Lisel Copeland says she enjoys spending time with her kids and seeing them active each morning before school. (James Young/CBC)

Copeland, her dog Charlie and her two children, Lowell in Grade 5 and Jillian in Grade 3, recently moved to the neighbourhood, which was pretty close to the school. They can make it almost the whole way by skiing, except for crossing one road.

Lowell Copeland

Ten-year-old Lowell Copeland says he likes skiing more than riding in the car. (James Young/CBC)

Lowell says he follows two rules: take off his skis when crossing the street — and wait for his little sister.

"I like that we're outside and not in a car because it gets you refreshed," Lowell said. "If you're grumpy in the morning, usually it perks you up."

Sometimes when they're tired, they'll walk — and take their sleds along in case there's time for a few runs down the hill before classes begin.

Jillian Copeland

Jillian Copeland, in Grade 3, has fun skiing to school. (James Young/CBC)

"I like that you can kind of glide," Jillian said of her skiing mornings. "Sometimes we stop ... on that little hill and sometimes we build jumps."

Her mom says she's happy to have the extra time with her kids in the morning and to see them staying active.

Copeland family

The Copeland family has been commuting to school by skis each morning. (James Young/CBC)


With files from James Young, Paul Karchut and the Calgary Eyeopener