Last-minute gift ideas for the skiers on your list

Looking to enjoy the snowy weather over the winter break, or need some last-minute gift ideas?

All in a Weekend host Sonali Karnick spoke with ambassador for the Quebec Ski Areas Association (ASSQ) and ski columnist Kevin Gasior about what activities are happening on the slopes this holiday season. He also lists some ideas for what to put under the tree.

Kevin's gift ideas for skiers and snowboarders

For snowboarders, a little keychain tool or a multi-tool with a wrench or a ratchet set to adjust those bindings. In case something goes wrong, it's always practical.

They have them at the base of the lift, but if something happens on a run, especially if you're in the backcountry, you want to be able to make that repair right on the spot. If you pre-eject out of your bindings, maybe you want to adjust your DIN setting [the industry standard scale for release force settings for ski bindings].

To keep your fingers toasty: try disposable hand warmers or, with a higher price tag, heated gloves. The gloves can go up to $300 for high-end brands but can be purchased for under $100 if you shop around. They are battery-operated and rechargeable, often with adjustable heat settings.

A neck-warmer is great for any kind of outdoor activity. They can run anywhere from $15 to $50. They're super practical.

A micro-lock is always good so you can go in and eat your lunch in the lodge and have peace of mind that nobody's going to grab your skis.

One of my favourites is a boot and glove dryer. I realised that once you have kids, it becomes practical to dry their boots and gloves when they come in from playing outside. So it's not only good for skiing.

The dryer has four extensions. You pop the gloves on, pop the boots on and it dries from the inside out perfectly and you're good to go the next day. It's about $100.

Also think about insulated cell phone cases and hydration packs. Ski or snowboard magazine subscriptions such as Ski Canada, Powder, Free Skier and Ski are another idea.

Submitted by Kevin Gasior

Spending the holidays on the slopes

SK: If you're trying skiing for the first time over the holidays, where should you start?

KG: I think the best place to start is the Maneige.ski website (the ASSQ's official site). There's information in both English and French on how to get started, how to get initiated into the sport.

If you have children ages five to eight, they have the Experience Maneige parks where you can learn to ski and ride around the province. The first one starts Dec. 27 in Laval with others starting in Longueuil and Quebec City on Jan. 5.

These run every weekend and full-time during the school breaks.

Two additional learn-to-ski areas are going to be set up during the Fête des neiges in Montreal and at the Gatineau Winterlude. Everything is free. They supply the equipment, there are lifts and certified instructors to get your kids into the sport.

SK: What are some of the events happening at ski hills across Quebec over the holidays?

KG: Out in Shawinigan at Vallée du parc, if you dress up in a holiday-themed costume on Christmas Eve they will give you a free lift ticket. But there are all kinds of activities at ski areas across the province. As well, Mont Saint-Sauveur is having a New Year's Eve party with free and paid activities.

SK: What about ski conditions over the holidays?

KG: A bit of a hiccup, maybe more weather indigestion we've been suffering the last three days. Good conditions are going to come back. The bases are well-built, we've had an incredible start to the season. Snowmaking is kicking off and that's going to go 24/7. Check the websites as some ski areas may be closed, but they'll be starting up operations soon right through the holidays.

On Dec. 26-27, they're going to groom all of the trails and the conditions should be fantastic.

Interview has been edited for length and clarity.