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Opinion: Confessions of a city boy (after his first time skiing)

Spoiler alert: I was not airlifted off the mountain in a neck brace
Pique sports reporter David Song, looking very much like a city boy out of his depth, after his fourth time skiing Whistler Mountain on March 3.

I did it, y’all. I finally went skiing.

It took place not long after my birthday on Jan. 23 (though the exact date eludes memory). A friend from church—let’s call her “V”—offered to show me the ropes, so I decided to accept. At that point, I thought to actually inspect the gear I bought from the Re-Use-It Centre months ago… and that’s when I encountered a minor setback. 

My boots didn’t fit my bindings. They were just a half size too big. What’s worse, no one told me ski shops will refuse to adjust bindings beyond a certain age threshold due to liability reasons. 

A rookie mistake, I know.

Fortunately, my other friend came to my rescue at the 11th hour. Her old skis ended up being a good fit in terms of both length and binding size, and she was happy to let me use them. Thus equipped, I met V and headed up Whistler Mountain to the learning area at Olympic Mid-Station. 

As we got onto the magic carpet, it dawned on me that, at 28 years of age, I was finally about to experience a sport loved by hundreds of millions around the world. 

V asked me what my goal was for the day. My response: “I just hope not to get airlifted off the mountain in a neck brace.” 

Two questions dominated my consciousness at that point. First: How would a natural non-athlete like myself respond to this foreign exercise? I usually struggle with picking up a sport, and I’ve often been left behind as others learned how to throw a spiral, make a jump shot or execute a clean high kick. 

Second: Would skiing actually be fun for me? I didn’t know what to expect, but managed to keep an open mind. You never know until you try—and I’m glad I did.

Approximately 20 seconds into my first-ever jaunt down the bunny hill, I began enjoying myself. That’s the thing about being a newbie: it doesn’t take much speed to make you feel an adrenaline rush. 

Houston, we have liftoff 

By run No. 3, I was turning left and right at will. V remarked how impressed she was as I demonstrated an immediately-functional command of the “pizza” stance. I was able to steer clear of other people and headed comfortably down the bunny hill, skis straight. It was awesome. 

We concluded our activities with a trip down my inaugural green run: Upper Fantastic. Again, I’m pleased to report that—while needing to break the run up into sections—I made it down without incident. 

How many times did I fall on that milestone day? So glad you asked. Zero. 

You might not believe me. I didn’t quite believe it either, but I’m thrilled nonetheless. 

Anecdotally, I think my ability to ice-skate went a long way towards helping me pick up skiing much faster than expected. The two sports are obviously quite different (and I’m hardly a strong skater), but skating has lent me a basic sense of balance and weight-shifting that appeared to transfer over to the slopes. 

I’ve skied four times as of this writing, and here are some additional takeaways. 

First: Icy snow sucks. 

Second: Not all green runs are created equal. (I perhaps need to stick to Upper Fantastic for now). 

Third: While I grew up as a risk-averse kid who rarely looked for ways to get his adrenaline pumping, I have an odd tendency to “send it” down a slope rather than maintain my pizza stance and the safety associated with it. My turning abilities definitely require improvement when traversing anything steeper than the bunny hill, but I don’t fear speed as much as I probably should. 

Not going to lie: Kickboxing is still my favourite sport to train in. That said, I finally understand why hordes of people flock to the mountains each winter, and I’m stoked to have picked up an athletic pursuit somewhat quickly for the first time ever. Team Canada, here I come. 

Just kidding.