Hit the Hills

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

I don't ski... not downhill anyway. I have been known to strap a pair of cross-country skis on my feet, but really, that's not much different than slipping down the driveway on the way to the mailbox.

As a downhill skier, you are expected to obey certain rules like: "Please do not remove our trees with your face" and "Please refrain from skiing with one of our shrubs stuck to your head". These rules are put in place to protect you and others like you. Some resorts refer to these rules as "Your Responsibility Code" which makes sense, since you and only you - as a skier - are responsible for personal injury or property loss resulting from say, a mid-air collision with any natural or man-made object, including but not strictly limited to your best friend Larry.

I can't ski for one very important reason... rule number one of the code. This rule states that you must remain in control and proceed in such a manner that you can stop or avoid other people or objects. Control on an incline. Right. I have a hard enough time remaining upright while walking on level ground - which isn't to say that I don't make a fine dance partner.

Recently, my husband - who is able to control himself not only on level ground but on 90 degree inclines as well - decided I should really go to a ski resort and test out the hot chocolate they serve there. My husband is not stupid and he realizes that even if he had a million dollars waiting for me at the bottom, I would not send myself willingly down a cliff. A new pair of leather boots? Now that's a different story.

Arriving at the resort, I noticed armies of people in red suits who I thought were cub scouts but as it turned out were ski instructors. Once I located the washrooms and the coffee pots, I sat and inspected the colour-coded signs. The signs were there to let the skiers know where the hills were (HINT: Look Up!!) and the level of difficulty one could expect once they reached the top. From what I could make out, green = steep; blue = steep; black = steep and a black diamond = steep with trees. Orange = steep for snowboarders only, while pink = steep for slow skiers - no knee bends allowed.

While I sat next to a fireplace sipping hot beverages, my husband and assorted family members - two on skis, one on a board - went up and down and up and down and up and down the runs, which had names like Big Baby Danger and Easy Street Look Out (or something like that). You know you are in trouble when the hill you are descending has been designated Calamity Lane or Elevator Shaft!

After an afternoon of watching the action from inside and talking to a surprisingly cheerful gentleman in a full body cast, it was time to leave the safety of the ski lodge. Later that night, soaking in a hot tub with my daredevil hubby and friends, I decided skiing wasn't so bad after all. Next time I might even eat popcorn.

This article appeared in an issue of Our Canada magazine some years back. I still like it so I'm sharing it here and now, with all of you.

You're welcome.

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