Sunday, February 28, 2010


... skiing that is.

Despite the local name for the escarpment around Hamilton, there are not any mountains in the Toronto area. There are, however, a few places where enough of a gradient exists to set up an Alpine ski resort. My adviser suggested a trip to Horseshoe Valley and, optimistic that the week had not gone so badly for him to seek my demise, I piled into the car with a couple of his kids.

I had not downhill skied since I was an undergrad and I have to say .... it's terrifying.

No, wait, let me clarify; the skiing is fine. Ski lifts are terrifying.

The first one we went on was bad enough. The chair moved at a fair speed up the slope and reminded me inescapably of the "hello Kitty" ferris wheel in Tokyo. It rapidly transpired that is was also the most modern and gentle of the contraptions at the resort. The next one we went on took particular pride in creeping up on the waiting skiiers and then setting off with a violent jolt, sending them rocketing into the air. Swinging wildly, the chair would then ascend, leaving its passengers to claw their way back onto their seats and pull the flimsy safety barrier down. Due to its predisposition for skiier-destruction, the lift stopped multiple times on its heinous journey, leaving its passengers swinging with an amplitude a baboon would envy. 

Shocked by such robotic evil, I failed to jump fast enough when the lift reached the summit and would have been trapped on-board, had I not thrown myself clear, loosing a ski and leaving the lift to rattle off with a squeak that formed echoes of a disembodied laugh. The only aspect of the decent I recall was that it was far less blood curdling that trip to the summit. I refused to go on that lift again. It was evil and this was no time to preach repentance.

The actual skiing was mild after that. It transpired I was roughly the same standard as my advisor's son.... he's eight, but since he has two younger siblings, I consoled myself with the knowledge the comparison point could have been so much worse. As we descended, I let him carve the tracks. I just followed. Mature adult overseer; that's me.

As I handed my skis in and left the cabin, I had to stop to allow a man on crutches to make his way down the steps in front of me. He still had his ski boots on. I wondered if that would still be the case in April.

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