I'm planning on taking my sister snowboarding for the first time next year (Jan - Feb)and was hoping that you might be able to suggest a couple of good Canadian resorts that would be best for a beginner? Last year (January) I stayed in Panorama, which although a great resort, was a little icey for my liking.
It's hard to determine the best resort for a beginner because all resorts cater to beginners as that is what keeps our sport growing. As to who has the best instructors or the best terrain for beginners, that is also hard to advise on as I've not been to all of them and I don't really check out the beginner services when I'm at a resort.
What I can tell you is that most areas do have quality instructors and good facilities for beginners. All areas want beginners to enjoy their first experiences so that they will come back. When you look at some of the other resorts near Panorama, Fernie and Kicking Horse both have more beginner runs than Panorama. Many resorts beginner runs consist of a few runs and a lot of cat tracks for their beginner areas. Fernie and Kicking Horse both offer a large variety of beginner runs and a few cat tracks.
As for the icy conditions you experienced at Panorama, it is something that happens at just about any ski resort. If they don't get fresh snow and get a little warming trend, then you get icy conditions. When we plan a trip somewhere we always hope for the best conditions but don't always get our wishes. It is just something we have to deal with. It is a bit surprising that Panorama had icy conditions because usually the Canadian resorts (Whistler not included as it's too close to the coast for normal Canadian conditions) get good snow and usually have good conditions throughout the season. With the global weather patterns changing, 'normal' conditions aren't the norm lately.
Hope this helps.
Keep on skiing,