Big White Found The Right Formula To Attract Seniors For A Special Week Just For Them.

Ski lift with view of condos. Credit: Big White Ski Resort.

Like so many things of yesteryear, ski weeks are making a comeback.

And not surprisingly, they’re aimed at the same folks who went ski trips back during the ski week heyday in the 1970s and early ‘80s—the Boomers.

The original ski week hit when the baby boomers were yesterday’s millennials. They had money, they were skiing, they wanted a fun social experience.

Then boomers started having families and taking an entire week no longer worked. So short, specific clinics (racing, bumps, women’s) that lasted only a long weekend, took over.

But why have ski weeks returned?

Women in Big White Ski Resort Masters ski program show off their green hair helmet decorations. The program runs a week with lessons in the morning and social programs at night. Kelowna, BC.
Credit: Yvette Cardozo

Because the kids have grown up, the money is available and so is the option of taking a week. Plus, it’s, well, your own age group. No trying to keep up with someone 30 years younger.

“It started as 50 Plus in 2011,” said Katie Balkwill, regional sales manager for Big White Ski Resort. “We ran it that way with very small numbers until 2013. Then we changed the name to Seniors Ski Club—and no one came the following week.

“So we changed the name to Masters Monday and had 30 participants the next week. We average 45 people every Monday for most of the season now.

“It truly is all in a name.”

As for Masters Week, it has grown steadily from 23 participants the first year (19 of whom have returned) to 59, then 109, then last year, 229 split between into two weeks, and after the second session, a third was added for the end of the season.

 And so, I signed up. We would ski together each morning and have a variety of social programs in the afternoons or evenings.

Since we had all filled out forms suggesting our ski level, we separated into skill groups the first morning ranging from novice to expert. After a bit of shuffling, we were set for the week.

Instructor at Big White ski resort shows an exaggerated proper stance for skiing.
Credit: Yvette Cardozo

Our group, Level 4 of 6, was perfecting its stance, getting more aggressive on our turns, and playing a bit in the year’s epic powder.

Anthony, our instructor, tailored exercises to each of the five in our class.

For Sandy, it was ski down holding poles horizontally in her hands which, Anthony said, helps you lead the turn with your lower body. Her upper body was turning into the hill, which throws you off balance.

For Norm, it was a “prayer stance” holding his hands together in front of his chest. This balances you and helps you lead with your legs, rather than your upper body.

For me, it was making sure I looked downhill when turning, not to the side—again, helping with balance.

And for all of us, there was a maddening exercise where we dragged our downhill pole along the snow, which truly is not intuitive. This gets you onto your downhill ski throughout the turn, Anthony insisted.

And, well, it did.

It snowed every day but on two mornings, fog settled in.

We all gulped, shrugged, and took off for lessons on how to deal with a whiteout.

We headed for the Black Forest chair whose medium width trails were lined with trees heavily frosted in Christmas card snow.

Ski along the trees, Andrew said. And sure enough, there magically was definition in the snow at our feet.

Don’t look at your skis, he added. Yes, it’s scary to peer into the white void, but find something ahead—another skier, a line of trees, a pole, a lift, and keep your eyes on that.

It absolutely helps avoid vertigo and, of course, falls.

I had truly hoped that last day we could find some steep cruisers along one of the outlying chairs and some untracked powder but the fog and near blizzard conditions squelched that.

Instead, I took the lessons home where, yes, it all made a huge difference.


Big White Ski Resort’s Masters Week is actually five days, Monday through Friday. There are on-slope lessons each morning, then social activities in afternoon or evenings.

For 2018, Big White is planning at least two Masters ski week programs, Jan. 29 – Feb. 2 and Feb. 26 – Mar. 2, plus possibly a third at the end of the season.

Price for the week (lessons, clinics and most social activities) will be $278 Canadian. Canadian dollars have run about .75 per US dollar for a few years meaning $278 CDN works out to about $208 US.

There are also Masters Monday classes, held each Monday morning, for people who don’t want to commit to an entire week.

Early morning view of Big White Ski Resort village ski runout on a sunny day. Credit: Yvette Cardozo


  1. Elizabeth McDougall says:

    We are already committed to several ski weeks this season but would be very interested in information for next year..

  2. Harold hyams says:

    I read about your ski week for seniors and wondered whether you had thought of a ‘canyon ranch’ type of ski camp where you do stretch exercises, warmups, ski training, smart eating and lose a few pounds while gaining some muscle firmness.
    I thought of that because that is what I would like; I am 74 and except for paunch, am in reasonably good condition but would like to increase my fitness with fun skiing rather than boring just boring workouts. Your thoughts please.

    • Michael Maginn says:

      Hi Harold: Just an FYI, it isn’t “our” (i.e., ski week at Big White, it’s Big White’s ski week. It’s a great idea, by the way, and we suggest you contact the folks up there. They have a loyal group of seniors that come from near and far.

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