North·Video

Yukon ski hill welcomes those who can't wait for winter

Whitehorse's Mount Sima is welcoming competitive athletes who want a few weeks' advance on their competition.

Ski and snowboard athletes say travelling to Yukon gives them an edge over their competition

Ontario's Emma van Groningen is training with Canada's national snowboard team in the parallel and giant slalom categories. 'It's the only place where you can get a good amount of training for a good amount of time,' she said of Whitehorse's Mount Sima. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

It's been warmer than usual in Yukon this year, but the ski and snowboard season has already begun — at least, for some people.

For the second year, Whitehorse's Mount Sima is hosting competitive athletes who pay extra for early access. 

This week, there are about 200 people there from across Canada, including members of Quebec's Mont Blanc Alpine Team, Alberta's WinSport Academy and the Snowboard Ontario provincial team.

Many of the athletes have dreams competing in the Olympics. 

They say travelling to Yukon gives them a few weeks' head start on their competition. 

Mount Sima isn't Canada's biggest hill but it has one distinct advantage: Yukon's colder climate allows for an earlier season. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

"We don't have snow out yet, so we wanted to come ski first, so we came here," says Juliette Charest of Quebec's Mont Blanc ski racing team. 

The Yukon government has invested in the hill, and is hoping that competitive athletes visiting the territory can boost the local economy. Competitive athletes pay twice the regular fee and their early access helps to subsidize the rest of the ski season.

The ski hill even has a plastic-coated ramp and giant airbag, which can be used to practice freestyle ski jumping year-round. 

​Mount Sima's general manager, Cindy Chandler, says milder weather this year means the hill is about three weeks behind its usual schedule. The hill has relied on snow cannons, which have been blasting out the white stuff for nearly a month. 

The ski hill is aiming to open to the public at the end of the month.

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