Volume 91, Issue 56

Thursday, January 8, 1998

El nino



Ski schooled

The passing of political activist Michael Kennedy and flower-power congressman Sonny Bono this past week has put fear in the hearts of prospective skiers. I, however, have decided that although the sport is a little worse for wear, skiing is worth risking your life for.

Not to downplay the tragedies over the past week, but it is important the skiing public be aware that accidents happen in all physical activity. In support of the Canadian skiing industry, people who take due care on the slopes should continue to take to the slopes and not base their decision on the untimely passing of a pair of highly recognizable political figures.

I went downhill skiing for the first time last weekend and without a lesson or the faintest idea of how to put on a ski, I hit the slopes. Unfortunately nobody told me that the slopes hit back. I promised my worried parents that I would stay away from all trees and not play football while skiing before I headed off to Collingwood.

I had already sold myself on the idea that since I am Italian, I somehow had the genes of Olympic golden-boy Alberto Tomba. The advanced hill with the moguls would be nothing for me, though it wasn't long before I realized that unless he shops at The Gap, our genes are definitely from separate pools.

After making it to the top of the hill on the chair-lift without incident, my confidence began to grow, but after the first three strides that confidence came crashing down along with my body. I laughed off the first fall, blaming it on the artificial slushy snow – "everybody falls," I thought. However, each successive fall became less and less humourous, especially the one that drew blood from my right cheek. I shook this fall off, considering myself a wounded warrior and besides, I was far from dead, yet. Then it happened.

My nose began to tingle as if it was going to bleed and my ears popped like Rice Krispies – it was at this moment I knew I was on top of the world. After looking down, way down, I saw my friends waiting at the bottom of the hill and slowly set out to join them. Reminding myself that balance was the key, it took all of 15 seconds to lose my balance. Hurling down the hill, I thought for a split second I was doing the right thing. With the wind blowing in my face, I flew past the slower, less talented skiers (so I thought) but then made a not-so-calculated error... I tucked. In this instance, I hit a mogul and found myself soaring through the air, toque over skis. I hit the ground hard and realized I had lost a ski. From behind I heard a faint voice asking me if I was okay. I turned around to thank the person for stopping and saw the person that was standing over me was no older than seven. After saying I was fine, the young child flew around me and I watched him complete the run without a bobble. Red-faced, I got up and continued for the rest of the day to complete run after run flying through the air. In a nutshell, I had a ball.

When we left that night, frozen to the point of numbness, sopping wet and covered in bruises, I smiled. I had come to the mountain a virgin of the deadly slopes – and left a warrior. OK, maybe that's stretching it a bit but I had conquered something. Yes, the mountain may have won the first battle against me but it better be ready for a long fight.

Basically, the day on the slopes taught me a valuable lesson – skiing is too damn fun and well worth the risk, just as long as you don't go long and, most importantly, stay away from those big pine trees.

To Contact The Sports Department: gazsport@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998