Working as a seasonal Park Ranger has its ups and downs. Months without work can be daunting and dreary while waiting for a contract to pick back up. However, it can be a time to learn and grow in an area that’s been in need of attention.
This season I’ve officially become a full time ski bum; and not because I kill at skiing or want to just fill the time – because I seriously needed the exposure. The endless laps at the local resort (which just happens to be the biggest in Canada) and time spent on my sticks. I have always loved winter, getting bundled up and playing in the snow. As much as I am enthralled with climbing and other summer hobbies, my heart yearns for the cold. It all began with walking to the school bus in temperatures below -20. Face covered, nose running and eyes squinting through the thick flakes falling. This was the winter I was raised to know. I quickly progressed from tobogganing to snowboarding and ultimately to skiing.
For my first year on skis I got a handful of runs in as I mostly ventured into the backcountry for long days spent trekking uphill. Starting with more skinning than skiing didn’t help me “get those turns in”. I was always terrified of the downhill as I forecasted a fall or 10 on the turnaround.
This winter season happened to bring with it some real snow (less of that sloppy wet rain stuff from last year). With a ride from the unemployment train, I was able to get on my skis Monday to Friday on the hill.
Learning to truly become one with my skis was my goal this season – a promise I wanted to keep to myself.
The first month was a fury of frustration trying to remember all the advice I had been given the previous year: push down with your toes! Bend your knees! Shoulders forward! These were all the things that rattled through my head as I plunged down the nearest green run.
I made a plan to ski with people who had been going for years or since childhood. That way, I would be forced to push myself to get better, ride different terrain and to not get stuck in bad habits. I received loads of good advice and also some bad. But I took what I could get and pressed my body into the correct motions.
I skied all through November and well into the Christmas season. Just at the brink of insanity, a friend from early in the season, would comment on how much better I had gotten. Things started to look up and each morning when I considered letting snooze take over, I would dwell on those words: I am getting better. And it was true – with some healing bruises and a persistent attitude, I was going from slow green runs to black moguls. Pretty soon getting on the chairlift was followed by excitement and not stress or regret.
Keeping up with goals can be tricky. It seems easy enough to start out strong but as time goes on it becomes more of a challenge to follow through. There will come a time in your trials when you start to see and feel the difference in yourself. That is when you feel the encouragement you need to make good on your goals.
Best ski tips that helped me:
- Stay off your heels: leaning forward in your boots will give you more control and balance on your skis.
- Don’t get cold and sad: when you feel your skis having a mind of their own, wiggling beneath your boots, let yourself have breaks. They help you reset and give your body some rest for harder/longer runs.
- Keep your runs diverse: hit some groomers, get in the trees and learn to ski moguls. Don’t just ride the same style of runs, keep it diverse so you can ski anything!