I skied in -20 C and survived

“You’re gonna ski in this weather?” my landlord asked me as I lined up my skis and poles outside the door. I asked myself the same question earlier while getting dressed and watching BCTV’s Morning News announce a -27 C forecast for Kamloops. “You’re crazy Lailani,” I told myself even as I pulled on an extra layer of clothing and grabbed a thick scarf on my way out.

Truth be told, as much as I looked forward to skiing, I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the cold either. But I had a ski lesson booked so off to the slopes I went. As one commercial puts it, “No self-respecting Canadian says ‘Let’s wait for a warmer day’”. If there was ever a more fitting situation to embrace that philosophy, this was it.

Even so, I got my consolation once I walked out the door and headed to the Sports School meeting place—sunshine all around and blue skies as far as the eye can see.

I was assigned to Level 4 with another student, Lenka from Seattle who’s vacationing with her family in Sun Peaks. Our instructor David was very easy-going yet was a no-nonsense kind of guy when it came to maximizing our ski time. As a result, we got a lot of practice skiing done, which suited me very well.

For our warm up run, we went down Sundance. It really dawned on me that I was on a Level 4 lesson when I saw David and Lenka speeding down the run as soon as we got off the chairlift—they were fast skiers! I was so used to lessons where our warm up was much slower. But though I had to work hard to keep up, I kind of liked this pace better.

For some variety in terrain, we went glade skiing down Grannie Greene as David explained the main goals for our ski lesson. He said skiers need to work on three crucial skills to move up in skiing. First is the stance and balance. Body weight always needs to be centred between the skis and must be distributed towards the front of the skis for steering.

Second, at any point during skiing, our skis need to be parallel to each other. He says it’s easier to do if we can envision fitting both skis in an imaginary box. Doing so improves the skier’s agility and control when skiing steeper and variable terrain.

Third is perfecting the mechanics of turns. Turns must be rounded, S-shaped and evenly distanced. To maintain speed, turn shapes should be adjusted according to terrain—larger, wider turns for flatter terrain and frequent shorter turns for steeper pistes. A turn must also be finished completely before starting another to regulate speed.

To up the difficulty, David took us to OSV as Lenka and I worked on our day’s goals. I’ve managed to avoid the OSV run until now. As it’s always used by ski racers for training, I thought it would be way beyond my ability, but I was wrong. I found that by using David’s pointers, I can be in control while skiing down OSV even in the steeper parts.

To wrap up our lesson, David summarized the things we needed to work on for future lessons. For me, it was learning to finish my turns completely, and remembering to do a quick uptake to position my skis better before starting another turn.

Yes, it took a while for my face and toes to thaw out after the lesson, but considering the tips I learned and the interesting chitchat with David and Lenka, I’m glad I didn’t wait for a warmer day.

To book a ski lesson, contact the Sports School at 250-578-5505.

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