On skiing and sport fan schizophrenia

Today, I skied with two wonderful individuals – ski instructor Dick Taylor and Rita from Burlington, Ont. I’ve met and spoken with Dick on several occasions while covering either the Bluebird Day Fund or the Sun Peaks Adaptive Sports but this was the first time I actually got to ski with him.

Rita was experiencing Sun Peaks Resort for the first time. After a devastating fall that broke her collarbone and ruined a past ski trip, she was happy to know that Sun Peaks’ green runs were just right for her. She explained that since the fall, she had to get over a fear of skiing. With a choice of runs of varying difficulty, she’s more comfortable skiing and thus is able to enjoy the sport again.

We began the lesson by “loosening up”. We skied down Homesteader while waving our ski poles about, careful not to hit anyone. At first it felt a bit silly, but when I started laughing at myself, I realized it was indeed a good way to not just relax the body, but to relax the mind as well.

The lessons we learned today were not entirely new but they’re skills I needed to master. One is sliding downhill with skis perpendicular to the slope. Another one was holding the poles in front while skiing, an exercise meant to keep the upper body quiet while isolating the movements to the lower body. These skills we practised in runs I’ve never been to before: a green run called The Rambler and an easy blue called Sundance.

The Rambler is a great ski run for beginners who want a bit more challenge as it is narrower and had short bumps and flows that made it fun to ski. Also, I found the width of the Sundance excellent for transitioning to blue runs. Rita and I both made it down without crashing, thanks to Dick’s motivation and instruction.

Although I’ve been on the Sundance chairlift many times now, it’s my first time to see two members of the Austrian National Snowboard Team riding on the chair in front of us. Dick jokingly said something along the lines of “Don’t let the Canadian Team beat you.” “Not a chance,” was one girl’s reply.

It made me think once more how people from different countries get into odd and even humorous situations when supporting Olympians. Last night, I watched Global’s coverage of this topic. They interviewed a father and son who were cheering for different teams. The father is American while his son, being born in Canada, identified himself more with Canadians. Another interviewee was a Brit married to a Canadian who admitted about being very careful when making comments on the teams. People adopt an attitude of “friendly animosity” if you will. It was a very entertaining peek into the fine line we tread between expressing ardent, all-out support and remaining polite as Canadians are known to be.

I’m lucky the Philippines doesn’t compete in the Olympics. Otherwise, I’d be suffering a terrible case of sport fan schizophrenia.

The Austrian athletes’ amazing skills and passion is something I truly admire. I’m glad we get to watch them train at the resort “without paying for Olympic tickets” as Rita put it. I sincerely wish them luck…but not at Team Canada’s expense. When I switch on the television to watch the Olympic coverage tonight, you can bet I’ll be cheering for Team Canada all the way.

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