My very first day of skiing: I hated it.

I was 10 years old my first day of skiing and it was on Rainbow Mountain, a rinky-dink little outfit about 4km north of Whistler, site of the 2010 Olympics.

It was a horrible place.  After bumping along in the yellow school bus for a good hour and a half they’d dump us in the parking lot and have us line up in the rain and cold to get our skis.  The skis were the really old kind, little more than wooden slats with screwed-on metal edges – and the bindings!

This was 1970 and the tail-end of the era of cable bindings, the kind that wound around your heel and didn’t release when you took a dive.  If you fell the wrong way, what did release was more likely to be a joint or leg bone.  The boots were leather lace-ups and freezing cold from the sweatsocks of the rental the day before, the poles bamboo with baskets of leather and a metal ring.

The  lifts were even worse.  No chairlifts here, just a thin metal cable with D-Bars every few feet.  Those things either send you flying to the ground or pull your arms out of their sockets if you don’t do it right, and the cable shreds your gloves to rat shit if you do.

Because Rainbow was at the same level as the bottom of Whistler – around 820 metres – it was subject to constantly changing temperatures and a variety of weather.   Our second time out we must have arrived after a week of rain followed by night-time freezing, because the snow was bullet-proof.  We didn’t ski so much as slip sideways in an awkward snowplow- if we managed to get up on our feet at all.

Lunchtime was spent in an overcrowded little diner that reeked of charred burger and old grease.  Smeared french fries were ground into the wet concrete floor as shrieking, unruly kids spilled them under the hard metal tables.  I was miserably wet and cold, unable to even peer out the fogged-up windows.  The ride back was spent just wishing we’d finally get home.

We were supposed to go once a week for three weeks but after two sessions of this so-called fun, exhilarating sport I told my teacher and school principal Mr. Cope you couldn’t drag me up there a third time.  I held off telling my parents for a couple of days, but when I did, they managed to convince me to give it just one more try.

Mr. Cope, who had a knack for humiliating kids in front of others, seized the opportunity once he heard my change of heart.

To peals of laughter in front of 150 kids lined up to go back into school after recess, he brayed:

What’s this Ian, you want to go skiing now?   I thought you said you didn’t want to go!  Make up your mind!  You’re worse than an old woman!

14 Responses to “My very first day of skiing: I hated it.”

  1. January 15, 2010 at 11:16 am

    My how things change! Skiing is my winter saviour!

  2. January 15, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    Skiing is mostly great. But when it’s bad, it’s awful.

  3. January 15, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    I see phys ed teachers are no better in Canada than in the US!

  4. January 15, 2010 at 7:17 pm


    I believe I recall from Bowling for Columbine that Canadian kids bring their rifles to school with them. Did you get any pudding, despite not eating your meat?

    Also, nice shot at old women there too!

    • January 15, 2010 at 7:57 pm

      Skiing is what I’m going to be doing mid-February this year once again near your fair burg, headbang!🙂
      I can’t wait.
      About that teacher – he was the school principal and my teacher the last two years of elementary school. He was actually OK with me, but the slow kids… they kinda suffered.

  5. January 16, 2010 at 5:56 am

    I don’t suppose Mr. Cope’s still around, eh? There’s an old woman here’d like to have a word with him…..

  6. January 16, 2010 at 9:02 am

    Despite his faults most of us very much liked Mr. Cope. He died nearly 30 years ago in his mid-40s of a heart attack. I learned of his death when I returned from my year of backpacking, so full of stories to tell him and photos to show. He’d traveled all over Europe as a young man in the 50s and early 60s and used to show us his slides to us Grades 6 and 7s, especially when we were studying ancient Greece and Rome. I really wished I could have let him know that his enthusiasm for culture and history was part of the reason I went.

  7. January 16, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    Ah, another side of the man. That’s precisely the time – grades 6/7 – that we were studying Greece and Rome, and my own Mr. Ratliff was assuring me that I did, indeed, have the skills to build a replica of the Parthenon.

    The older I get the more careful I am to tell people of their importance to me as soon as I become aware of it. Perhaps the meridian of our lives is that day we go from thinking “there always will be time” to knowing “our time is not forever”.

  8. January 17, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    I’ve never skied😦

    But I used to toboggan to school in the winter…..

  9. January 22, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    Hehe – I was not so crazy about skiing when I started in 7th grade. My mom was learning and very passionate about it, my father had grew up skiing and my sis was still young enough not to be afraid. Me, I was cold, scared and somewhat miserable in between moments of great fun. How it has changed! Now I really love it.

  10. 11 writechic
    January 23, 2010 at 3:56 am

    I haven’t skied either. I went tubing down a mountain at Snowbird in Utah. Love mountains. Hate the cold. But I’d be willing to bundle up like Maggie Simpson or Bridget Jones and try eventually. Hell, I’ve been skydiving.

    • January 23, 2010 at 10:05 am

      Me too! I did a day-long course culminating in a jump from a static line at 3,500 feet. I couldn’t wait to get out of the plane!

      and to Michelle: I wish I lived closer to the mountains. Five days lined up in February is all the skiing I’m going to get. Doing it all at once is like binge drinking – hard on the body and takes a long time to recover. 🙂

  11. 13 writechic
    January 26, 2010 at 12:20 am

    Tennis season is starting up again here. I went Saturday night with my middle-schooler. He won the set…then it started pouring.

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