OUTDOORSY, SPORTY AND SPIRITED

Pro-sport fanfare, Olympic legacy, a rush of fresh air and water, stylish gear, an honour-your-health holiday. No matter what the sport or outdoor inspiration, Calgary brings it for sport loving, active travellers.

FIRST STOPS

  • Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame where there are more than 1,000 sports artifacts and 50 hands-on activities
  • Dozens of downtown shopping destinations to gear up to ride, rappel, paddle or pad the trails in well-priced style
  • Check out calgaryoutdoors.ca or pick up a free copy of Calgary’s outdoor adventure magazine packed with tips on trails, challenges, events and more
  • Winsport Canada Olympic Park offers the Skyline Luge and North America’s fastest zip line means bragging rights belong to you

GO PRO

Calgary’s pro-sports teams and fans are die hard. Matches sell-out. Fans plaster themselves (and you can too) in team-branded red and black for:

  • NHL Calgary Flames hockey games in the saddle-shaped Saddledome stadium with the “Sea of Red” surrounding the rink
  • CFL Stampeders Football games where a galloping horse rounds the stadium for each touchdown
  • Calgary Roughnecks, a professional box lacrosse team, known as the Riggers for their energy sector namesake
  • Various international competitions/championships

With tickets coveted, try Calgary’s mod-tech virtual arena Flames Central on Stephen Avenue to catch any airing big-screen action. Or sidle up to any bar with a flat-screen to rub (and bend) elbows with some locals over a pint of local brew (like Wild Rose, Village or Last Best Brewery) or a Calgary-original cocktail, the Caesar.

CYCLING

Take Calgary on two wheels. Cycle shops like Rapid Rent at Eau Claire Market will rent bikes and offer tips to navigate Calgary’s 700 kilometres of four-season routes that make up the longest paved urban pathway system in North America. Pedal along the blue-ribbon Bow River, glide through lush Prince’s Island Park, zip over the new red Peace Bridge, designed for pedestrians and cyclists (winner of the Canadian Architect’s Award 2014 for Best Steel Design in the Bridges category).

CITY PARKS AND GREEN SPACES

Picnicking, dogwalking, Frisbee tossing or festival going: name it. Calgary draws its energy from the surrounding wilds and its 7800 square hectares of green space and parkland. Pursuing Inner City urban park pleasure is a ready choice with Nose Hill Park to the north and Fish Creek Provincial Park to the south each ranking among North America’s largest. These raw, natural expanses are home to roaming deer as you bike, hike, jog or relax on a wood bench to watch the hawks swoop for gophers in the rolling grasslands.

BIRDING

For an unconventional walk on the wild side during winter, visit the Calgary Zoo and try the new Walk With Penguins, where a waddle of king penguins routinely parade before the public (January – April) then plunge back into their newly created ice-and-rock habitat. Nearby is the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, a large nature reserve with nature trails and more than 270 species of birds. Each summer, flocks of great white pelicans gorge on disoriented fish easily picked off in the undertow on the Bow River at Harvie Passage.

ANGLING

Pros know fly fishing is a hip-wading high in Calgary. Spool a hand-tied fly over the river with a flick of the wrist and wait for brown and rainbow trout, pike or whitefish to tug as the sun sets. The Rocky Mountain glacier-fed Bow is one of North America’s best trout fly-fishing rivers. For the uninitiated, guided fly fishing expeditions make for a relaxing and rewarding outing for a half or full day.

WINSPORT CANADA OLYMPIC PARK

Calgary is rooted in the traditions of winter sports, given its global role as host of the 1988 Winter Olympics. The park’s legacy is hands-on adventure: bobsled on Olympian training tracks; ski and snowboard on World Cup calibre slopes. Calgary has North America’s only superpipe within city limits.

SKATING

Calgary’s answer to New York’s Rockefeller Centre or Bryant Park rinks is Olympic Plaza in the heart of the city, across from City Hall and Arts Commons. Also downtown, skaters can glide the frozen lagoon from dawn to 11 pm at Prince’s Island Park. Another favourite lagoon with its wintertime firepit is in Bowness Park, a short drive from downtown. More than 34 rinks are open mid-November to mid-March. The best indoor skating experience in Calgary and best odds for meeting celebrated skating world personalities is at the University of Calgary’s Olympic Oval.

PRAIRIE WATER SPORTS

Calgary’s boating scene comes as a surprise to those who think they know the landlocked destination. The beautiful Glenmore Reservoir is home of the Glenmore Sailing Club where you can rent boats and sail the day away, securing lessons or going it alone. Not far from the city, motorboat-friendly Chestermere Lake is another popular spot to sail and water ski. Discover the Predator Bay Water Ski Club on a private site 10 kms south of Calgary and has hosted Canadian National Water Ski Championships.

URBAN SKI, SLED AND SHRED

WINSPORT CANADA OLYMPIC PARK

• Snow thrills are guaranteed at this one-of-a-kind attraction,  a handy 15 minutes from downtown or en route to Canmore, Banff and the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
• Known for the 1988 Winter Olympics. Unknown for pro-guided bobsleigh trajectories and Canada’s only urban super pipe.
• Home to Canada Sport Hall of Fame, opened in 2011, with more than 1,000 iconic sport memorabilia and artifacts in a dozen galleries.

ONE PLANK OR TWO: BOARD AND SKI AT WINSPORT

Survey a snow-dusted city atop Canada Olympic Park – with a warm Chinook breeze flushing cheeks and perfectly groomed slopes inviting descent – to experience the pinnacle of Calgary. Training ground for champions and Olympians, this prime winter sport venue holds equal appeal for beginners and high-performance athletes.

Clench – from eyes and jaw to fists and toes – and rocket the turns as steel blades cut and scrape the ice down the Canada Olympic Park bobsleigh run. The thrill of pulling five Gs in a bullet-sleek bobsleigh meets relief over the finish line. The exhilarating run lasts only 60 intense seconds, but the rush lasts for a lifetime.

Meanwhile, the Burton Progression Park Half-Pipe is where many of the snowboarding pros find their groove and the Source Terrain Park, home to the only Super Pipe Canadian city limits, advances jumping, railing and piping style. Cross country skiers stride more than two kilometers of maintained trails.

COOL RUNNINGS BY BOBSLEIGH

The bobsleigh experience in Calgary’s own Canada Olympic Park is the only place in Canada offering Olympic-length rides.

No ordinary “ride in the park,” this is sport. Piloted by a professional, aerodynamic four-seat bobsleighs twist and corkscrew down a narrow iced track, bank 14 steep turns and hit maximum speeds of 120 km/hour on the very course that develops Olympic and World Cup champions. Local and international athletes actively train here. Onlookers can capture the excitement and photos of thrill-seekers at their heart-pounding peak from a pedestrian bridge over the course finish line.

This track played front-and-centre stage as Calgary hosted the 1988 Winter Olympic Games and met international fame when the Jamaican bobsled team made its historic debut here. The track and Canada Olympic Park also starred in the 1993 Disney movie “Cool Runnings,” inspired by the Jamaican team’s story. Twenty years on, the bobsleigh from the film is on popular display at Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, featuring Canada’s largest collection of Olympic memorabilia.

There is no call to wait for winter for this speed fix. These bobsleighs are newly equipped with wheels and tackling turns all summer, too, when the Canada Olympic Park ski hills thaw to give way to zip-lines (North America’s fastest) and mountain bikes and skyline luge.

SPORT LIVES LARGE AND LEGENDARY

Canada’s Sport Hall of Fame finds a home in Calgary. Canada is known for legendary athleticism, with many of its sport heroes spotted and nurtured in Calgary, an officially designated Sport City. Little wonder Calgary and its Canada Olympic Park was chosen as the permanent home for the Canada Sport Hall of Fame. This interactive, 40,000-square-foot modern museum opened here on Canada Day, July 1, 2011.

Putting up dukes and shadow boxing with gold medallist Lennox Lewis; flying like an eagle off a Nordic ski jump; grabbing the microphone to play commentator. Inner athletes are unleashed at the Canada Sports Hall of Fame, celebrating more 500 of Canada’s greatest contributors to the world of sport: from Bobby Orr and Wayne Gretzky to Terry Fox and Cassie Campbell.

Enthusiasts explore more than 1,000 sport-centric artefacts from 60 different summer, winter, and Paralympic activities in 12 different galleries.

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