March is my favourite time to ski. It's the combination of snow on the ground and mild temperatures that, to me, is perfect. While last weekend was spectacular, with the high temp hitting nearly 17 C, today was pretty nice too, even though we were hovering around 2 C. It being March Break, we invited a couple of our son's soccer friends over and took them skiing at Mansfield Ski Club, a great little family ski hill west of Simcoe County in Dufferin County.
Ironically, it was the most exercise I have done all week. Having the kids home kind of puts me off any kind of normal schedule. Not that I consider downhill skiing a cardio workout (I am slow and careful) but at least my legs got some kind of exercise, more like isometrics maybe.
I remember one year, when I was enthusiastically following some kind of training schedule, I had it in my head that I really needed to do some good cross-training - something to get that cardio going. And it happened to be a day we were going skiing. "I'm going to bring the snowshoes and do a little of that first," I said to my family. "I'll catch up with you at the chair lift in an hour or so." By then, nobody questioned my crazy need to "follow the training schedule." They just shrugged and said, "Okay, have fun with that," and donned their skis. All except my daughter, who decided she'd like come with me. She was about 14 then.
What an adventure. We strapped on our modern, titanium snow shoes and started out on Mansfield's trail, which runs up next to one of the ski runs, and tucks around a corner at the top. This was going to be a steep climb, but I was ready for it. I craved it. Rarin' to go. You get the picture. Not halfway into the climb, my daughter's boot came out of her snow shoe. "Ughh! This stupid boot!" she complained, as she stopped and started fiddling with the straps on the snow shoe, trying to tighten them up around her big boot. I must admit, a twinge of irritation ran through my body. I really just wanted to keep moving. But I stopped, and helped her tighten the strap.
We resumed climbing. The strap loosened again and her boot slid out. This was not part of my plan. I bent down and this time, ignored the buckle and tied the strap into a big knot around her boot. Better! On we climbed, heartbeat back up to where it should be again until...
"Mom, this hill is too steep, I don't think I can..." she whined.
"It's not THAT steep," I replied cheerily, not slowing down. "Come on, it's GOOD for you." "No, really, just go on without me," she insisted.
That memory makes me laugh every time I think of it. She stuck it out and we got a good little workout in as we climbed to the top of the hill. The sun was shining, we were breathing in fresh air, laughing through the difficult moments, and all was good.
Today, one of the boys we brought to the hill put skis on for the first time. Mike, my husband, who enjoys teaching kids how to ski (he has patience and is good at skiing backwards), got this little athlete moving down the hill, in control, by the end of the afternoon. There were times when our friend was nervous, and he wasn't sure he could do it. He tried hard, fell a few times, but always got back up again, and tried again. He rode on a chair lift for the first time. At the end of the day, I heard him in the locker room talking to my son and his other buddy. "This was SO much fun!" he said. "I'm gonna ask my dad if we can go skiing." Another happy convert.
Enjoying a sport is great, healthy, and fun. Enjoying a sport with your family and friends is the icing on the cake.
Mansfield Ski Club is a semi-private club in Mulmur Township, just north of Mansfield, Ontario, that is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. They hope to be open for spring skiing until the end of March. For more information go to www.mansfieldskiclub.com.