Sunday, March 13, 2011

Skiing Through Life

I learned how to downhill ski in Elementary school in Calgary.  In those days, our school had a "learn to ski" program for those in Grade 5 and Grade 6.  If you were interested in skiing, you could take the program.  I took the program and immediately was smitten.  I was so smitten, that I went and got myself my first job - a newspaper route - so I could purchase some skis and a ski pass at the local ski hill..  This was also inspired by my parents, because when I told them that I loved skiing and wanted to buy some skis they said, "Well, you'd better get a Job".  They split the cost with my 50/50 or at least, that's how I remember it.  The next  year after I learned how to ski, I did just that. I purchased my first pair of skis - a pair of yellow K2 Stingers and a Season Pass to the Paskapoo ski hill.  My parents would drop me off at the ski hill and leave me for the day where I would ski from when the lift opened to when the lift closed.

In Junior High, our school was part of some experimental programming called "Life Time Activities".  This was a "one-of-a-kind" activity program that offered up a huge selection of different activity choices for students to try.  There were also some indoor activity choices, like bowling, but I gravitated towards all of the outdoor activities.  Essentially, every Friday afternoon, there were no classes and we got to go outside and do something really cool.  Naturally, I picked "downhill skiing" as my winter activity selection.  I also remember taking Canoeing, Hiking and Biking as some of my warmer season options.  Of interest - there was also a Computer Course available.  It was the early '80's and this was considered a "leisure activity" - and was not part of any curriculum.  To me, going skiing on Friday afternoons, was a BIG deal. The big yellow school bus would pull up in front of the school and take us all away - to the paradise of our little ski hill.  I was in heaven.  I was skiing instead of going to school!  Yeah! 

My parents eventually got in to skiing, because both my brother and I had taken to it.  Fortress Mountain was my first "real mountain ski experience" and I was captivated by this wonderful sport and the scope, size and beauty of the mountains.  I have no memories of being cold - but lots of memories of eating "french fries" in the day lodge.  Fries were a treat, not something I ever ate at home and a "integral" part of my ski experience.  Soon, we were taking ski holidays and making trips to Montana to ski at The Big Mountain.  I had never seen so much snow in my life - Montana was a Wonderland of Powder and snow banks that were much, much larger than me.

After High School, when we were away from the Cliques of Teenager-dom - my brother and I decided we were cool enough to hang out together.  As soon as he got a car, he was taking trips to the ski hill and eventually, thought it took a few years, I was included in the plans.  It was an exciting time to be skiing, ski culture was taking off - and I met a lot of great people on the slopes.  In 1988, after being excluded from a ride to the ski hill - I hitch hiked to the slopes for the first time.  I had to be extra sneaky to do it, but NOTHING was going to stop me from getting to the ski hill for one of the last days of Spring Skiing.  I HAD to ski, it had become the Most Important Thing of All-est.  So, I took a public bus and then I hiked out to the city limits and I put out my sign:  Sunshine.  I looked like I was 13.  I've been skiing at Sunshine Village every since.

Skiing has taught me many things and changed my life - too many things to mention in this simple post.  Eventually, I met my husband on the slopes, moved to a ski town and thus began a Great Adventure. The fun and joy of skiing, skiing with friends and making fresh turns in powder, is still is a big part of my life.  As the adventure continues, I'm so glad that skiing is still a part of my world.  True, it's a smaller part of my world than it's ever been - but this doesn't mean I love it any less.  I'm thankful for this silly sport and all of the good things it's brought me and hopefully, I'll be skiing through life for a long time.

Yesterday's turns at Sunshine Meadows


Anonymous said...

sweet powder and sweet sunshine. love it!

Leslie's Keith said...

Yes, I did in fact 'pick her up' while she was 'hitch hiking' from the ski hill!

Her (ski) loving husband...


Anonymous said...

Thank for sharing with us your passion for skiing and how you enter into such a wonderful world.
It was a treat for me to read your story and see your video clip early Sunday.


Mary said...

That is so cool that you had those options in school. If I had maybe I wouldn't be the ski fraidy cat I now am.

JeffO said...

Since I grew up in red-neck country, my school options were how to put an old car up on blocks in your own front yard, and beer-can chucking at passing motorists. All quite civilized, I assure you. Sorry I don't have any video clips. They'd be so fun to watch.

Kaz said...

Ooooooooooooh so sweet! what a run out! Fantastic! Love your story of how you got into skiing! Me? Before I could walk I would say: "I want to do that" (pointing at my bro and sis who were skiing away)so that as soon as I could walk at 18 months, a fantastic pair of plastic skis with fish scales on the bottoms were strapped to my feet! Just the other day my mum and I were laughing at how she was so glad when I got big (heavy) enough to stamp into my own bindings so she no longer had to bend down and pull the heel up as I pushed down! LOL! It truly is the silliest but most wonderful sport - not much beats cruising down a mountain on a pair of planks!

Danni said...

I wish I could have learned younger. Oh well. You'd be impressed by how much I've improved but how terrible I still am in powder.

Leslie said...

Thanks Naomi!

Why hello Leslie's Keith. You've come out from hiding! Such a shy boy.

Hi Ernesto! How are you? Yeah, I think my world is a wee bit different than your world in California, yes? Glad I could bring a smile to your face this morning! Hope you are still running and enjoying your own trails.


Plasmanoir said...

Great video and written piece. Wish I could snowboard where you ski. Mt Baker Ski Area doesn't have those wide expanses. Re: how you started skiing - I was the parent who learned to snowboard while the kids took lessons. My learning curve was way longer than theirs, but at 63 I'm still lovin' getting out there on the slopes.

Anonymous said...

Awesome story; I grew up in Calgary and had a similar program to "discover skiing" in Elementary and JH; the JH program was much better as it ran for a full week in between semester breaks, but we only went to Paskapoo. Fortress in the early 80's was awesome from what I can remember. There was always a storm brewing, the backside was incredible and the snow was pretty good. Such a shame that Nakiska took so much away from Fortress - hopefully they will re-open to their glory years soon.

Anonymous said...

Awesome thread! I too am of the same vintage and took part in those programs at school. I can remember Paskapoo vividly.....the green triple chair to the left; a couple of t bars running up the middle and the red double chair to the right. You used to be able to ski through the trees and pop out the bottom, but that was before the bobsled & luge track went in for the olympics. Bonus points for anyone that remembers the old hut about 1/3 of the way up the hill on the triple chair side....I think it was a bar/ cafe or something? Fortress was a blast back in the day too....the backside dbl chair would always stop and you'd be swaying in the wind. They really need to open that place up as a full resort again, that hill was the best and always good amounts of snow. Sunshine was fun too, they had that Sport Check in the lodge and in the spring you could smell them cooking burgers from the top of Brewster. White-outs were no fun there, and being above the tree-line there were plenty.
The good 'ol days for sure:)