to ski 

To ski or not to ski By Nicole Udzenija I grew up in Kelowna I’ve lived in Vancouver nearly 10 years. if this doesn’t sound like a big deal to you, you must be from equatorial Africa, because it is definitely a Big Deal to people around the mountainous Lower Mainland. After the incredulous, gaping mouth, can-I-touch-you-are-you-for-real initial reaction, there generally follows an invitation to come up to the slopes and find out what life is really about. Hundreds have tried, and hundreds have failed. If life is really about being cold, wet and using your butt as transportation down a long, steep, bumpy hill, I’ll pass. But it’s never that easy. Because once it is known that I have never even tried it, or what’s more, wanted to try it, I become a challenge. Being the first person to take me skiing becomes the equivalent of persuading the Pope to buy a refrigerator. Or was that Eskimos to have sex? Whatever, You get the picture. I have to admire their persistence. That is, until it becomes annoying. I try simple reason, pointing out that for the price of a lift ticket I could buy three CDs. That meets with silence. I then try the sympathy route, explaining my great fear of speed. They remind me of my driving habits. Each year it comes down to finding enough polite ways to decline until the great spring thaw. I’m sorry, but I need to remove all the hair from my drains. Or, it’s the only weekend the Bay City Rollers will be in town. Finally, I am reduced to dragging out that old standard, fail-safe, stop-you-in-your-tracks favourite. I’m sorry, but... I have nothing to wear. This, I am embarrassed to say, usually works. I realize this doesn’t reflect favourably upon me or my friends, but it’s the truth. And fortunately, this truth often does set me free. Well, it’s not the complete truth. I do have the snowmobile suit I got for Christmas in Grade 6 — a lovely overall and nine-foot long jacket ensemble that I’m sure would be this year’s retro hit on the hills. However, because my friends do not share my conviction, I am spared. Just to set the record straight, there are some parts of skiing that I’m sure I would enjoy — notably the before part and the after part. I believe the after part is formally known amongst the hill people as "apres-ski." I believe I could master sitting in a lodge by a fire, eating and drinking and talking to beer-ad wannabes. I’m pretty good at it at low altitudes, so I believe it would only take a few minor adjustments before I learned to relate on a higher level. Although my friends take a dim view of my desire to make an excursion to the slopes that does not involve skiing, I don’t think I’m alone in the idea. Have you ever seen a Tibetan monk on skis? And I’m sure Moses didn’t take a chairlift up Mount Sinai to talk with God. Why can’t I have a mountaintop experience that doesn’t have me hurtling down the slopes strapped to a couple of sticks? And lest you infer from this last statement that it is fear that keeps me from the slopes, let me assure you it is not what you think. Death does not scare me. I do have some issues with permanent disfigurement, but it’s not that. I’m afraid I might like it. Then I would have to do it again. And again. And then I would be broke, like all my friends, because I would have to buy a season’s pass, and my own equipment, and an outfit, and probably a Pathfinder so that I could get up to the hills regardless of the weather conditions. Worse than that, I would have nothing to talk about but the great powder, or the awesome out-of-bounds run that I found, or how much air I was getting off the moguls. This is completely unacceptable to me. So, I will continue to contribute to the Canadian cultural mosaic, along with Quebec and the First Nations, as part of my very own Distinct Society — Canadians who do not downhill ski.

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