Our experience at the Mount Sima ski hill in Whitehorse and some facts about skiing, by Yvonne Mueller

My husband and I learned to ski when we were three years old – something that is quite normal growing up in Switzerland in the 1980s – and we have enjoyed it ever since. So when we came to Whitehorse we were glad to learn about the Mount Sima ski hill. Of course, it is not as big as a common Swiss ski resort, but it still offers everything you need for a fantastic day of skiing.

Since we left our equipment back home we were happy to find a rental shop at the chair lift station which rents up-to-date skis and boots. Reaching the top of the ski hill with the chair lift (made by a European manufacturer), we were overwhelmed by the view. In the Yukon you usually need to climb a mountain by human power to have a view over the land – this is one great exception!

We were glad to find different slopes to ski down the hill and all of them were well-groomed. The tasty hamburger we had for lunch at the cafeteria was freshly grilled on the barbeque. Compared to Swiss ski resorts, everything is on a small scale at Mount Sima, but we found that there is nothing missing.

Spending a day at Mount Sima, I noticed that Whitehorse has quite a lot of ski enthusiasts. So, I want to share some interesting facts about skiing that I came across on the internet when I was wondering where skiing was invented:

  • The word “ski” has its origins in the Norwegian word ‘skíð’ which means a piece of wood.
  • Norway is considered the country of origin of skiing as a sport (and not Switzerland, as I had always thought). But skiing was originally a form of transport in the mountains of Europe – long before it became a sport. The oldest skis were found in Sweden and date from 4500 to 2500 BC.
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, is the man who introduced skiing to Switzerland in the 1890s. After returning from one of his ski trips in Norway, he brought with him some skis as he felt Switzerland had the perfect terrain for it.
  • The first recorded downhill skiing race was held in Sweden, in 1879. Alpine skiing as a sport made its Winter Olympic debut in the year 1936.
  • The first ski tow (the precursor to the chairlift) was built in 1908 in Germany.
  • The Les Trois Vallées’ ski resort in France is the largest ski area in the world with more than 600 km (372 miles) of trails and 183 ski lifts that can transport 260,000 skiers per hour, 1,920 snow cannons, 424 ski patrollers, and 1,500 ski instructors.
  • Skiing is one of the fastest non-motorized sports on land. Italian skier Simone Origone set a world speed skiing record at 156.2 miles per hour.
  • Downhill skiing is not just balancing on skis and letting gravity work for you. While skiing downhill with moderate effort, you can burn around 350 to 400 calories per hour.

For all those who can’t wait to get on the slopes and burn some calories, Mount Sima is planning to start the winter season on Friday, December 1, depending on weather conditions.


Yvonne Mueller is from Switzerland. She lived in Whitehorse for a year to study Multimedia Communication at the Yukon College.