Category Archives: Skiing

Hittin’ the slopes


After years of saying “I’d like to take the boys out skiing some time” and then not doing it, I finally did it on Saturday. Gail had lots of school stuff to do, and Sunday and Monday were supposed to be rainy and crappy (it’s Sunday afternoon right now, and it’s currently rainy and crappy — attaboy, weatherman), so we went out to Chicopee on Saturday afternoon. I looked at Glen Eden as well, which is about the same distance from home, but they only had full- and half-day rates and rentals, and Chicopee had 2-hour rates and rentals. For their first time out, I figured two hours would be plenty, and it turns out I was right. It was an expensive two hours ($45 for the three lift tickets and $66 for rentals), but the boys and I had fun.

The rental line was very long, and by the time we actually got our boots on and picked up our skis and got out there, we had already used up 20-30 minutes of our two hours. We headed over to the bunny hill where I gave them a short lesson on standing on skis, slowing down and stopping (the “snowplow”), and turning (again, the “snowplow”). The lift was a magic carpet, which I had never used before. It’s just a conveyer belt that you stand on, so it’s about the easiest lift possible. The boys both did very well — I’m not going to say either one was a natural, but Ryan didn’t fall at all, and by the end, he wanted to try the bigger hills. Nicky had a couple of very small spills, but he was in more danger of falling while standing still than while skiing. Ryan would just point his skis at the bottom of the hill and go, while Nicky got frustrated because he couldn’t go as fast as Ryan, and I kept having to slow down so he could keep up with me. He wasn’t trying to go slow, and I couldn’t see any reason why he would be, so maybe his skis weren’t as tuned as mine and Ryan’s. I asked Ryan to practice some turns by doing a zigzag pattern down the hill, and he did it perfectly. I was very impressed.

When we had about 15 minutes left on our two-hour lift ticket, Nicky started to get cranky and I figured he’d about had enough. We did one more run and then returned our stuff and went to the snack bar for the obligatory après-ski french fries.

It is an expensive sport, but the boys had a lot of fun, so I think I’m going to look around the classifieds or used sporting goods stores for some used equipment for the boys and myself (Gail has zero interest) so that we can bypass the rental lines in future.

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A trip back in time


Last Friday was my annual “ski day” at Devil’s Glen, organized by my second-line manager, Dave. I only ski once a year, though I’d like to increase that to at least a couple of times — maybe I’ll bring the boys out with me, since (a) Gail doesn’t care for downhill skiing, and (b) Nicholas is still free until he’s six. Devil’s Glen has an annual “Men’s Day”, which is when we went last year, but Men’s Day can be pretty busy, so this year Dave decided to have it on the Friday after Men’s Day. There was no free beer or gifts and no prize draws, but it was a little cheaper, the lift lines were almost non-existent and we had less trouble getting tables near each other for the 28 of us, so that was good. It snowed like crazy all day, which made for some treacherous driving on the way home, but the skiing conditions were great.

I used to ski all the time in high school, and now it’s once a year, at most. As a result, whenever I ski nowadays, memories of skiing back in high school come flooding back…

(Everything goes all wavy as we go back in time…)

It’s a Wednesday night in early 1986. I’m sixteen and in grade twelve at Dunbarton High School in Pickering, Ontario. After school ended at 3:30, I put my school stuff in my Adidas bag and head down to the tech wing where my skis and stuff have been stored all day. I find my stuff among the piles of other people’s stuff and head towards the ski club bus. 45 minutes later, we’re at Dagmar Ski Resort in Whitby [This is where I would normally put a link to the Dagmar website, http://www.skidagmar.com, but it’s incredibly lame (no pictures, no map, nothing) so I refuse to even link it]. We get changed, grab our lift ticket, and hit the slopes.

They’re playing CHUM-FM through speakers at the top and bottom of each lift. [This was back when CHUM-FM was a pop-rock station, not the “easy listening” “adult contemporary” “really boring” stuff they play now]. All evening, we hear songs like “These Dreams” by Heart, “Rock Me Amadeus” by Falco, and “Kyrie” by Mr. Mister. I’m skiing with my friends Glen Fujino and Kevin Day (and others, sorry guys but I don’t remember other names). Glen is a better skier than the rest of us, and likes to do goofy things like spin around and ski backwards in a tuck position. The guys I usually hang around with at school (Faisal, Doug, Paul, Glen) aren’t here because they don’t ski. My fourteen-year-old sister is out here somewhere with her friends as well, and every now and again I see her, but she usually ignores me. The big hill right in front of the chalet is called the Big Daddy, and we spend most of our time on that hill. There’s a little mini-mogul run down the right-hand side, underneath the chair lift. From the top of the lift, you can go left to hit the couple of black diamond runs, but they’re not really all that hard. One’s called the Dive Bomber because about halfway down there’s a drop-off; if you hit that with some speed, you can get some airtime. The other direction from the diamond runs, on the other side of the Big Daddy, are some other narrow intermediate runs, and beyond that are some easy ones, including one called Lover’s Lane. Inexplicably, very few jokes are ever made about this name, which is surprising considering the number of teenage boys here. A guy can yell “Hey, let’s go over to Lover’s Lane!” to a bunch of other guys, and nobody will make any “no way, man, I ain’t gay!” jokes you might expect from guys of our age group and maturity level.

At some point during the evening, we hit the chalet for dinner. This is almost invariably a burger and fries, scarfed down as fast as possible so we can get back out skiing again. At the end of the night, we return to the chalet before boarding the bus for a hot chocolate. After that, we pack up our stuff, put it in the holding area under the bus and get ready for the ride home. Glen, who is teaching himself some really weird computer language called “C”, tells silly jokes the entire way home.

(Everything goes all wavy again as we return to the present…)

Things I worry about now when skiing, but didn’t back then: Can I do the more difficult runs without killing myself or someone else? Will the pain in my legs stop at some point today, or just keep getting worse? How badly are they going to hurt tomorrow? Why haven’t I been doing squats for the last month, like I promised myself last year that I’d do this year?

Things I worried about then but not now: how cool do I look? Where are the cute girls skiing?

Men’s Day 2007


Friday was Men’s Day at Devil’s Glen Country Club, where Dave, my former boss and our VP of Engineering, has a chalet. They have Men’s Day at the end of January every year, and Dave invites a bunch of us up. Once you buy your ticket ($140 this year), you get skiing for the day, breakfast and lunch, free beer and munchies (everything from wings and meatballs to oysters), plus gifts and lots of prize draws. The prizes are pretty substantial too — they had things like autographed Leafs and Raptors jerseys, BBQ’s, ski equipment, other electronic devices, and then a few grand prizes, including a 50″ plasma TV and a year’s membership at a local golf course. One of the guys from our group won an Atomic ski bag and baseball cap. The gifts this year included a Devil’s Glen baseball cap, a shirt (though they weren’t ready in time and will be mailed out later), and one really strange one — a six-pack of beer.

The skiing was great. It was pretty cold in the morning (when we got up, Dave’s weather station said it was -20), but it had warmed up to about -8 a few hours later. I think the cold temperatures must have scared some people off or kept them inside, because the hills were pretty empty. Good ski conditions + almost no lift lines = good skiing. I stuck to the easy and intermediate hills most of the day, though I did two or three black diamond (“expert”) runs. I skipped the double diamond runs though, I just don’t have the confidence in my skiing ability for those. I only ski once a year (though I missed it last year because I was sick), and my leg muscles are a little stiff today. There’s normally a one-day grace period before the real pain sets in, so I’m not looking forward to tomorrow.

We all went up to Dave’s chalet on the Thursday night to drink beer, play pool and table tennis, and hang out in the hot tub, but this year the big hit was the Nintendo Wii. Several of us had never seen one, and we all agreed that it’s a really dumb name (though catchy), and we also all agreed that it was a lot of fun. We played a bunch of sports games — golf, tennis, baseball, bowling, and boxing. The graphics are no big deal (I think my several-year-old Nintendo 64 has better graphics), but the controller (the “Wii-mote”) is the big draw. (I’m describing it here for those who have never used one &mdash feel free to skip this paragraph if you are familiar with the Wii.) It kind of looks like a (wireless) remote control with less buttons, but you basically use the remote like you would the golf club / baseball bat / tennis racquet / etc. It detects the motion (front-to-back, side-to-side, and even twisting) and speed, and the game acts accordingly. I was pretty impressed at the physics involved, and how they can sell this kind of technology for so little — if you can find one, I think they’re under $300. My birthday’s not until July, so maybe I should ask for one as a Valentine’s Day present?

To ski or not to ski, that is the question


Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of — oops, sorry, high school English flashback.

Have I mentioned that being sick sucks? My boss (actually my boss’ boss, but he used to be my boss) Dave has a chalet at Devil’s Glen Country Club near Collingwood, and every year, they have “Men’s Day”, where male members of the club can bring as many male guests as they want (for ~$120 each), and they get an all-day lift ticket, free breakfast, lunch, snacks, and beer (!), plus there are lots of prize giveaways. I’ve been two or three times before, and it’s lots of fun. Well, men’s day is tomorrow, and because I’ve been sick all week, I’ve decided not to go – the last thing I need is to be sick for another week because I spent a day outside in the cold, exerting my just-recovering body more than it’s used to. The really sucky thing is that today, I feel almost normal. The dizziness and light-headedness are both gone, and my throat is still sore but much better than yesterday. If the recovery continues, I’ll feel totally fine tomorrow, and yet I’m still not skiing. Sometimes I can be a risk-taker, with a kind of a “ah, what the fuck!” attitude, but when it comes to my health, I’m usually more of a “play it safe” kind of person. Dave sent around an email today saying that Devil’s Glen has gotten 12 inches of fresh snow in the last couple of days and it’s still snowing, so the conditions will be amazing. That’s certainly not making my decision any easier.

I used to ski all the time in high school, but then decided that buying groceries and mini-pitchers of rye-and-coke on Wednesday nights at the Bombshelter were better uses of my limited money during university. Gail doesn’t like skiing, and none of my friends ski much anymore either, so Men’s Day has been my only opportunity to ski in the last, well, many years. Ryan has shown some interest the few times we’ve watched skiing on TV, so maybe sometime this winter, I’ll take him out to Glen Eden or Chicopee or something, rent some skis and teach him everything I know about skiing. Shouldn’t take long.