Life lessons on a ski hill

How a 50 year old went up a mountain and came down with style

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Published in The Hamilton Spectator in February 2013

Is 50 too old to learn to ski? Perched at the top of a blue run in Panorama Mountain Village in B.C., there's no place to go but down. Way down.

Somehow on this first day of a week-long ski trip in the Canadian Rockies I get swept up in a more advanced group. I'm terrified. Nick Veres, the mountain guide, leads us over Panorama's vast expanse - 1,200 trails, 2,800 acres of terrain. He says to take it slow.

My skis tip over the edge and I fly along the powder for five minutes before I fall. A few minutes later, I fall again. And again. I'm aware of holding the others back. And that's when it hits me just how foolhardy, potentially dangerous and bloody embarrassing this whole ski adventure might prove to be.

I've only skied a handful of times and gave up years ago after a particularly mortifying experience when I fell off a chair lift, broke my glasses and spent the rest of the day with a batch of masking tape stuck to the bridge of my nose.

Yet the freedom and grace of the sport have always compelled me. So I'm giving it another shot by signing up with the Burlington Cedar Springs Ski Club, which has a 75-year history in the area and boasts 500 members, the majority of whom are midlifers like me.

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