The untrained eye might see a regular chair lift on Mount Norquay, near Banff.
But if you are single, and maybe interested in meeting someone on the slopes, that lift could be a ticket to true love.
“We wanted to do a fresh take on speed dating,” says Teha Ciotti, sales manager at Mount Norquay Banff Ski Resort and Restaurant, and one of the masterminds behind the event.
“With this event, you know right off the bat you have something in common: You like outdoor sports,” Ciotti said in an interview.
Singles are randomly paired in lines to take the chair lift for a five-minute ride up the mountain.
If the couple hits it off, they can ski and spend time together on the slopes.
If not, they can get back in line to meet someone new.
“It helps with conversation because you’re doing an activity at the same time,” Ciotti said in an interview.
“It’s all-around a good feel.”
The Cascade slope, the easiest run for all skill levels at Norquay, is used for Lifts of Love.
Beginners are encouraged, even if they are just starting out.
Night skiing on Cascade is also open to the public, but speed daters are identified by the glow sticks they wear.
Registration begins at 6 p.m., and speed dating starts at 7 p.m.
“There’s really nothing else like this for dating,” Ciotti said.
“We’re just adding something fun to what’s already been done.”
At 9 p.m., participants get together at the Lone Pine for the Apres Ski Mixer with a live DJ and games to keep the party going.
A kissing booth sponsored by Soul, Ski and Bike in Banff offers a prize to the most awesome kiss with a stranger.
Ciotti knows of a local couple who met for the first time in the Lifts of Love kissing booth.
“They’re still together, two years later,” she said.
“I think it’s amazing that the girl kissed a stranger and then fell in love with him.”
The mixer also uses Singles Bingo to keep people socializing through the night.
“Picture a bingo playing card, but instead of finding B1, for example, you’re going around and looking for someone with a picture of their dog on their phone, or a man with a beard.”
Those people sign the bingo card, and once the player has a complete row, he or she can win a prize.
Participants are usually in their mid 20s to early 40s.
While many singles who participate are Banff and Canmore locals, others drive in from Calgary.
“We’ve gotten really lucky with the ratio of men to women. Most times it’s fairly balanced.”
“A lot of people dress up for the night in funny costumes or ’80s ski jackets.”
Advance tickets are available for $25, which includes the lift ticket cost.
“Essentially you’re getting the lift ticket for free.”
To buy a ticket at the door, it’s $30.
Last year, Mount Norquay hosted 120 singles for Lifts of Love.
Ciotti’s role as a sales manager involves not only planning events, but also other ways to encourage people to join in on the skiing fun.
Once a month, Mount Norquay sells lift tickets for $2 each.
“It’s Norquay’s way of giving back to Albertans and making skiing affordable for everyone.”
On Toonie Days, visitors are given the option to make donations to local charities.
Last year, they raised more than $20,000 for the community.
Ciotti hopes all singles will try out Lifts of Love to meet someone.
“Really, I’ve done the hard work for you. I’ve brought together all these singles, given you guys something to do, and it’s a whole lot of fun,” she said.
“You just have to be brave and try.”