Ski Inspiration #3: Training with Heart

photo credit: Droid Gingerbread

photo credit: Droid Gingerbread

Patty cake, patty cake may be just what’s needed. The game in which you clap your own and your partner’s hands requires eye contact or at least eyes on your partner’s hands. On the ski hill, keeping the game going by skiing backwards to face your student means the student needs to look up enough to see your hands. Looking up means looking forward and not looking down at the ground, which is helpful when going down a hill. That’s how a round of patty cake helped a little girl ski all the way to the bottom of the hill, which is why she raised her arms in victory like she won Olympic gold.

You need to think outside the box teaching kids. And with these kids, as it should be with all kids, the focus is on ability: the ability to move freely, learn, accomplish, participate, make friends, and do what other kids do. Having the opportunity to shine and be a part of something, not sit on the sidelines or watch out the window.

Every Track 3 volunteer says the same thing: once you start, it’s hard to walk away. I can see that. To quote Amy Bloom, “In the right hands, everything that you give, you get.” Patty cake and victory signs sound pretty good to me.

*On-hill training begins in January.  Instructor to student ratio is 1:1 or 2:1 and teaching methods are based on CSIA and CASI. Volunteers always needed.  Contact Ontario Track 3 Ski Association for the Disabled.

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1 Snowboarder 5 Questions

Fernie photo credit: cb6379

photo credit: cb6379

In the interest of happiness on the hills, I wanted to get a snowboarder’s thoughts on the upcoming season and that ongoing rivalry between boarders and skiers. Years ago, JP spent a day or two on the hills as a skier then quickly made the switch to boarding.  Now he’s reflecting on deep pow and sharing the great winter wonderland with his kids.

1. What’s your essential gear?

This really depends on your budget and specific needs, likely similar to skiing.  Of course the usual rules apply: keep warm and comfortable and dress in layers – nothing worse than being stuck at the top of the lift in Mt. Tremblant for 20 minutes at -32C and not being comfy (been there, done that). As for the technical gear, I recommend a helmet. I think that this is still a debatable issue as I once read that head injuries went down but neck injuries went up (people thinking that they are indestructible and therefore put on a helmet and try a Rodeo 540*). In snowboarding when you fall, you fall fast and hard, straight back or forward as you catch an edge and wham, head meets Ontario ice. Comfy boots are key. The rest is budget and terrain. I ride hard and fast, and have done steep and deep so I opt for a stiffer board, bindings and boots – more responsiveness at high speed and in tight terrain like glades.  Boards are all relatively the same in concept. Riding park and rails all day (which at 41 I do not do) requires a different board than bombing a cruiser.

*Rodeo Flip – An inverted frontside 540 off of a straight jump. In the halfpipe, it is more like performing a 540 degree rotation which is inverted and off-axis. source: the-house.com

2. What’s your dream destination?

I love Fernie, but that’s likely because I’ve been there. My favorite is deep pow and really long runs. I’d love to go cat or heli-skiing on a glacier – we talk about it with “the boys” but it is pricey

3. Do you have any suggestions for boarders and skiers sharing a lift?

Simple – communicate. Be cognizant that the skier wants to be banging his planks against your board about as much as you want the same so talk about it and be courteous. Which way are you going off the lift, left or right?  Simple question that solves almost all lift issues.

4. What are your thoughts on separating skiers from boarders with designated runs?

Bad idea. There is no reason that the two can’t co-exist. I’m kinda bored of the stories of the “boarder that was whipping down the hill with no regard for his/her surroundings and almost took me out at the knees…”  Guess what, I’ve got the same stories about skiers and I’m willing to bet that this issue was around before us knuckle draggers were “allowed” to co-exist on the hill. Realize that we are all there for the same reason – to have fun and be outside and the rest works itself out. If you’re going to get all worked up about that boarder/skier that cut you off, well then you haven’t found your happy place yet on the hill, and I hope that one day you will.

5. Are you teaching your kids to ski or snowboard?

I defer to the experts on this one. My kids are learning how to ski first because that’s what we were told to do. I don’t really think it matters to be honest. I just want them to learn to love being out on the hill for the day, the rest will be up to them. If they choose to learn how to board later on after becoming accomplished skiers, then all the power to them – now they have two skills instead of one.

And those my friends, are some valuable lessons for enjoying the outdoors.  Any thoughts skiers or boarders? Think we can all live in harmony on the slopes? Thanks for the great insights JP!

Ski Inspiration #1: Flying with Track 3

Snowflake

photo credit: Kelly Sikkema

I don’t need to be inspired to ski, but I can certainly be inspired to be a better person, reach higher, do more. Last weekend I had a taste of all three.

Friday night Track 3 hosted their annual Winterlude Carnival fundraiser at the Steam Whistle Brewery. Track 3 is a non-profit charitable organization that teaches children and youth with disabilities to downhill ski and snowboard. Giving disabled youth the freedom to fly is how their school program is described.

Over the course of the season, 450 volunteers get 200 kids outside to play in the snow and experience what many of us take for granted. There are 150 mentally and physically disabled children on the wait list. Once you add up the specialized equipment, travel costs and coaching, it costs approximately $1650 to get one child on the hill, hence the fundraiser.

Children waiting for the freedom to fly? Let’s help cut the wait list. How?

If nothing else, tell one friend about Track 3, and that friend may tell one friend and so on and so on. You may have someone in your midst who could make the difference between a name on a list and a child on the snow.