Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hitting the Slopes

December is here, which means that the cold hand of winter is upon us. Winter is not all bad though, in fact, I have many fond memories of this frigid time of year. I recently shared this family memory with the class...

We were at a ski resort in Collingwood some years back with the family. I had spent the afternoon with a book in front of a nice comfy and cozy fireplace. I drank voluminous amounts of hot chocolate. Dad, Scott and Derek had spent the afternoon at the ski slope. For me the decision to go skiing or stay back in the condo was a no-brainer.

By the end of the afternoon, we headed out to the ski slope to pick up Dad, Derek and Scott. I had never been skiing before and knew that it would not be my thing. I had an intense fear of heights, and just the sight of the ski lift gave me the heebie-jeebies.

We met the guys at the bottom of the hill. They were pretty tuckered out from a day of skiing and were ready to go back to the nice cozy condo. Scott was not ready to go just yet. “Let me go just one more time!” he said. “Wait here and watch!” he exclaimed as he skied away towards the lift.

Scott finally reached the top of the hill. Scott waved from the top and made sure we were all watching – he wanted to impress us with this run. Little did he know, but I was already impressed with the fact that he went on the ski lift. In my mind that was quite an accomplishment.

There were a handful of other skiers that were gracefully swerving back and forth down the hill. It all seemed very peaceful and cozy – the snow covered pines, the swishing of the skis, and the wildlife that watched from the sides of the hill (the wildlife part may not be true).

The beauty of the moment was shattered by a demented scream from the top of the hill. I looked around expecting to see Howard Dean, but realized that it was Scott who let out that battle cry. He launched himself down the hill with all of his strength. The deer and arctic hares fled for the safety of the woods. Mothers covered the eyes and ears of their young ones.

Scott was in perfect form for the first twenty feet. His head was down, his feet were a shoulder length apart, and his body was in the tuck style position. After about thirty feet, Scott was like a speeding bullet.

He then hit a gentle rise which caused us all to hold our breath and grit our teeth. Scott was having trouble staying in his crouched down position. He was fighting gravity and inertia and was losing!

He was going so fast by this point that his cheeks were flapping in the wind and a vapour trail appeared in his path. I waited for the sonic boom.

Scott was nearing the bottom and was losing more than his fight against gravity. His ski poles, gloves and hat were deep-sixed as his body became more and more erratic.

Scott knew that he would not be able to come to a nice graceful swooshing stop like the other skiers. He decided he would have to use his head. Literally. Specifically his face. White powder flew everywhere as his body slid towards us. When the ‘smoke’ settled, we found Scott in a heap. Remarkably he did not have any broken bones. He picked himself up (and everything that got sucked off in his final descent) and beamed at us. “Awesome, eh! Greg – you’ve got to try skiing some time! I’ll even teach you!” he said. I looked at the trail he had blazed straight down the hill and looked down to his smouldering skis. “I think I’ll take my chances by the fireplace.” I said.