Making peace with old man winter

When I moved to Canada nine years ago, the idea of snow and winter were a totally foreign concept. Before moving here, I had only seen it in movies and in photos. So from this tropical island girl’s perspective, falling snowflakes were the most magical thing in the world.

However, reality has an uncanny way of pulling you down to earth. After nine winters, this statement never fails to come out of my mouth with a qualifier. Winter is magical . . . unless you’re scraping ice from your windshield. Or, winter is magical . . . unless you’re freezing outside in -20 temperature. Or driving in slush. The list goes on. Alternatively, I just tell people I like to enjoy winter from inside a nice, warm house.

Until now. I realized that part of my winter discontent is because I haven’t actually found the perfect sport to help me appreciate the season. I did have fun snowshoeing and iceskating last year, but skiing is probably the ultimate winter sport there is. What better place to try it than right here in Sun Peaks Resort?

So now, I’m on a mission: I’m going to learn how to ski. After an exciting prelude of shopping at the ski swap for brand new ski gear and getting my pass thanks to my employers at SPIN Newsmagazine, finally, here I am. Ski lesson, day 1 at Sun Peaks Resort. As I walked towards Sun Peaks Sports School, I was excited and shaking in my ski boots.

“Hi, I’m Gavin. You’re missing one of your gloves.”

I knew he was going to say that. Flushed and out of breath from doing a walkathon in ski boots, I was running a bit late for my lesson. Although I arrived early enough, wrestling my feet into ski boots took longer than expected and before I knew it, I was late. To make matters worse, I realized I had forgotten my other glove in the car just as I arrived at the meeting area. After apologizing profusely to my ski instructor, I replied, “I just need to get it from my car.”

Maybe being late for my lesson was a trick of the subconscious mind. I have a confession to make. I have been hesitant about skiing ever since a traumatic first experience on the slopes a while back. In fact, I didn’t try skiing until the very last day of operations last year precisely because of that. And after a less than ideal start, I could feel the familiar anxiety slowly rearing its ugly head when my skis started to slide. ‘Focus Lailani, you can do this!’ I told myself as Gavin gave me and my fellow beginner Marvin, a guy from Ontario, instructions on how to make a wedge with our skis and make turns.

After a few practice runs on the relatively flat area for beginners in front of Bottom’s, I started feeling more confident with my skiing and up the Platter Lift we went.

“How was that?” I asked Gavin after finishing what felt like an effortless turn. “That was perfect!” said my Aussie instructor, beaming. Before, I had associated skiing with pain, but the more I learned, I realized that with the correct form, it doesn’t have to be. More techniques for turning came next.

After countless tries, many successes, one minor fall and two runs on the Gentle Giant, my first lesson came to an end. I thanked my instructor whose friendly, calm demeanour and clear instructions made me realize skiing isn’t that scary after all. I made my way back to the car with a huge smile on my face.

Me and winter? We’ve finally formed a truce.

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