My first ski of the season

Glen woke up very early this morning, and thus I woke up too, a lot earlier than I would have liked for skiing. I managed to get back to sleep for perhaps 20 minutes and then it was time to get up, dress in ski gear, eat breakfast and go.

Last year we only had a few bits of ski paraphernalia, clothes mainly, however, this year we have our own helmet and ski boots, which made for a different feel to last year’s skiing. I set off at 6:30 to catch the subway up to York Mills, loaded up with my ski equipment bag (containing boots, helmet, gloves, mask, goggles and warmers) and a backup with lunch, another jacket, printed chapters of my book to edit, and my iPad.

Exiting at York Mills Subway Station with a bunch of other people from the ski club, I went upstairs, bought a green tea (it was pretty cold walking to the subway station) and milled around waiting for the bus to arrive. When it came at about 7:20, I jumped on with my stuff and found a seat. Luckily there weren’t many people and there was space to put the ski boots bag. I don’t know what we’re going to do on the weekends when the buses are full. Will probably have to rest it on my lap.

Next to me, I had Emily, one of the organizers and an instructor I’d had before. We chatted intermittently through the one and a half hour journey. She’d just been to Brisbane and so we talked a bit about that. She agreed with me that the Canadian winter was preferable to the sweltering Australian summer. She’s English though so that might have something to do with it. I was also meant to edit some chapters but I couldn’t find my pen, so I played Ticket to Ride on the iPad instead.

Cold wind and snow pelted me when I got off the bus. I hired skis and poles, excited that I was getting to use my ski boots for the first time and didn’t have to hum and hah over whether the hired boots fit properly.

After I got my skis, I hurried inside. Emily on the bus had been saying how cold it was meant to be today and made me anxious by saying how many layers she had on. In comparison I only had my ski pants, my base layer and my ski jacket. Would I freeze on the hill? I put my boots on and everything else then went outside, joined a level four group and got on the chair lift to the top.

My goggles froze over in the first few minutes, so my worry that I might have forgotten how to ski was compounded by the fact that I could barely see where I was going. Thankfully, I remembered a lot of what I’d learned last year and was able to get down the hill without major incident. In fact, it felt like I’d never been off skis at all.

Every time I got to the bottom of the hill, I attempted to scrape or melt the ice off my goggles. This required me to pull of the goggles, which meant the area around my eyes got really cold (I was worried about frostbite), and then I needed at least one ungloved hand to wipe off the crystals. My fingers hurt. Then getting back on the ski lift to the top, my goggles froze up again and I went down the hill blind once more. There were a few times where I just had to suffer the cold and remove my goggles completely. It was at least -19C (probably more with windchill) so it wasn’t pleasant, especially not with snow shooting into my eyes.

The instructor I had, John, was very good. There were only two of us in his group, me and Diana. He gave me a few things to work on, which I’m hoping I can sort out over this season at least. The conditions today were highly unusual for Toronto so there wasn’t much opportunity for advancement. I also fell over a few times, but being powder, it was actually a lot of fun.

Our lesson finished at 12, and I was very grateful to get inside. The last hill I was on I just pointed my skis downhill and went really fast because I wanted to get out of the cold. I ate my packed lunch and then decided against rushing back out to ski again. I stayed in and edited some chapters, went out for one quick ski (my goggles had fogged by the end of the short run) and then returned my skis and got ready for the bus ride home.

Our bus left at 4:30, driving very slowly along snowy roads. It got dark pretty quickly. We arrived back at York Mills at about half six and then I caught the subway home, and took a dip in the hot tub (my right hip is a bit sore, more from the gym yesterday than from exerting myself today). We’re going skiing this weekend so I’m glad I had today as a bit of a dummy run and to make sure I can still ski. Bring on the rest of the season.

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