Your Run – Buyer’s Guide 2014
Ovaltine shaken, not stirred
» Marty McLennan’s interview with John Eaves (“The Great Canadian Fall Guy,” December 2012) brought back some memories. My old neighbour and friend Mike Godfrey was on the World Cup “Hot Dog” tour around the same time as John Eaves. While John was doubling for James Bond, Mike was skiing in Ovaltine ads—“Hey, Dad, it looks like it’s time for Nightmare Alley!”
The “Sponsors bail on Freestyle” article in Short Turns made me reflect on Mike coming into the K-Mart where I worked in northwest Calgary (circa 1977) to buy something to cover his skis since he had lost his sponsor. I found some MACtac with half-naked ladies and we cut the shape like a precision CNC machine. We had a huge freestyle following at our high school since Peter Judge was one grade ahead of me.
BRIAN CALLOW, Calgary
» I read your article on John Eaves in the December issue of Ski Canada. Great piece! I know John through my family, so it was exciting to see that you had done an interview with him. If you haven’t already seen this video on Rhoda and Rhona Wurtele (John’s mother and aunt), check out these inspirational women at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bsavc5QE9UA.
DANIELLE MURRAY, Vancouver
The blame game
» I was particularly angered by Phil Christie’s letter in your Fall 2012 issue. I’ve been skiing for more than 50 years and in that time I can’t recall a ski area fence installed in an inappropriate manner or place. Over the years I’ve skied in sun, rain, fog, blizzard and everything in between and adjusted my speed to the conditions. If Mr. Christie had done the same perhaps he wouldn’t have run into a “farm fence” in “a blizzard.” We each must take responsibility for our choices and actions. If the visibility is poor or the slopes are too steep, icy, bare, bordered by solid fences or have sprouted those pesky lift towers, we evaluate the situation and decide whether to stay in the chalet or to accept the potential hazards and board the lift; it’s that simple. The sport we’ve chosen has some inherent risk and every so often it bites us, but the fact is when we push off onto a run we have made the choice to accept the risk. Ski areas have stopped holding many events in recent years because insurance costs have become too high, and they are too high because folks like Mr. Christie file a lawsuit when they get injured. I don’t know the details of his case, and I’m sure he views its outcome as fair and I’m sorry for his injury, but if he had run into a person instead of the fence when he chose to ski in poor visibility, he might have found himself on the wrong end of a lawsuit.
BILL SULE, Oakville, Ontario
Give it a pass
» I read with interest your Fall 2012 issue and caught the blurb on Silver Star’s “my1pass” (“Tips & Tales,” Short Turns), which I and other season ticket holders say, “Big deal!” For years the best thing about the season ticket was a dual-mountain option that let you ski Big White as well as Silver Star for a small premium. Now, due to apparent family squabbling, there’s no longer a dual-mountain option but we serious skiers can skate and tube. Big deal. Bring back the best of the Okanagan ski scene!
BILL JEFFREY, Lake Country, B.C.
“Kell” rings a bell
» Your article about Kell Antoft (“Who the hell was Kell,” Short Turns, Winter 2012) was brought to my attention by a member of the Ski Atlantic Seniors Club. The readers of your magazine may be interested in learning more about this unique club, founded in 1989 by Kell Antoft (www.sasc.chebucto.org). The SASC is open to those 65 and older or to those 55 and retired from full-time work. The annual dues are $200 and members may ski at any of our participating hills, any time. We now have over a thousand members. Lessons from qualified instructors are available at each hill, and ski trips to hills outside the Atlantic provinces are organized every year.
R. RICHARD POTTER, Ski Atlantic Seniors Club
» As a long-time reader of your magazine, I have made the observation that every time you write about the Laurentians (“Me, Jack and Mr. Squinch” by tobias c. van Veen, Winter 2012) the same three comments are made: poutine, beer and 20 below zero. As someone who has skied and lived in the Laurentians for 50 years, I can tell you there is more to Quebec ski resorts than that. Of course, we don’t have the vertical of out west, but we do have a long season with good snow, good runs and temperatures not as cold as you think. Besides always being pictured as a party town, your readers would be surprised to know how family-friendly St-Sauveur is, and how it caters to kids. I hope next time you can show this great side of our mountains.
MIKE ROY, Laval, Quebec
Digging up memories
» I was very pleased to see in your Spring 2012 issue that Fortress Mountain, Alberta, is now open to cat-skiing (“Fortress Renaissance,” Short Turns). I have fond memories of Fortress, having skied there a number of times years ago, when it was in full bloom (before Nakiska). Memories of its rooms where I stayed, and the huge open rotunda with central ceiling-high fireplace, as I vaguely recall. But I would like to share with readers one fantastic weekend of unbelievable snow.
Along the Kananaskis highway approaching the turnoff to Fortress, snowflakes started gently falling as I drove up the winding approach. There was a large, level parking lot, so I paid no particular attention to where I parked, and entered the lodge for the weekend. The snow was now getting heavier, but no reason to think much about it. Next morning, however, we were informed that no lifts would be open due to the heavy snow that had fallen during the night. After an hour or two, it was announced that one lift would open, a T-bar. I took it up with snow some four feet or so each side along the way. It was not possible to walk too far from the T-bar since you had to plow through heavy snow. I was able to find a route, and I excitedly powder-skied to the base, going all the way through snow up to my chest. That was the only run I made all day since the lift was shut down after that due to the heavy snow, which covered the lodge from ground to roof. I couldn’t find my car for some time with the snow completely covering all the vehicles, looking like a field of marshmallows.
Never have I seen such a massive snowfall as that day, and that is my lasting fond memory of Fortress, which I will take with me should I again have a chance to return to enjoy a day of cat-skiing.
ALLAN JAMES, Minnedosa, Manitoba
» For many years I have seen the cost of skiing rising disproportionately with income. I’ve decided to stage my personal “Occupy” protest against the rising cost of skiing. After 30 years, and hundreds of days of skiing in Europe, Canada and the U.S., I have decided to stop skiing.
TOM SOBIERAJ, Toronto
Given the many discounts for seniors, easy-to-find used equipment online and interest in backcountry skiing, there might be a few who would disagree with your accounting. Hope you haven’t hung up your tuque for good.
Like it was yesterday…
» I read Iain MacMillan’s editorial “My Best Run” and then saw the photo and letter from Andrew Bevan (“Picturing the Canadian Dream,” Letters, Buyer’s Guide 2013) and it reminded me of January 21-22, 2002, cat-skiing powder days that were epic—the best in 10+ years of cat-skiing there [at Mt. McKenzie] before [Revelstoke] the resort started lift operations. That was two days of -5 C, no wind, clear skies and huge snowpack that year.
RANDY JANG, Revelstoke
$265 per minute
» My wife and I spent a week at Whistler last February. She fell on her second day of skiing and sustained a cracked rib and severely bruised shoulder. Needless to say, our long-awaited ski holiday came to an abrupt end. The icing on the cake, however, arrived a month later by mail—an invoice from British Columbia Ambulance Service for $530 for a two-minute ambulance ride. Fortunately, our private medical coverage will pay the bill, but what has left us feeling so outraged is that we were guests in B.C. and left behind a significant amount of money in transportation costs, lifts tickets and lessons, dining and grocery bills, entertainment, etc. during our stay. In conversation with a BCAS rep we were told essentially that all the provinces do this so they do it, too. No wonder medical costs in this country are inflated. By the way, the cost of transportation in an ambulance for a B.C. resident is $80. Perhaps it might be cheaper to travel to Utah or Colorado, where they regard tourists as valued guests, not as victims ripe for fleecing.
LARRY EAMER, Cornwall, Ontario
» I want to remind readers of a couple other ski areas that have ceased operations: Big Thunder in the Cypress Hills, Sask. Closed in the mid-’90s, it had roughly a 300-foot vertical with an 1,800-foot T-bar and five trails. The trails can be seen with snow on Google Maps. Also, Pine Cree Ski Hill, near Eastend, Sask., had only a rope tow and the remains of the lift can still be seen. Other ones that are no more include White Track, north of Moose Jaw; Ochapowace, north of Broadview; Hidden Valley near Craven; Mt. Blackstrap near Saskatoon; and Twin Towers by Rosetown.
Great job on the magazine. You are clearly the best at ski area stories, but I’d love to read an article about Prairie hills. I know they are not big, however, something can be said about reading about your local hill: Holiday Valley, Asessippi, Duck Mountain, Mission Ridge, Bear Paw, Table Mountain, Canyon, Silver Summit…
TRAVIS MEGINBIR, Calgary (formerly Admiral, Sask.)
Tags: Asessippi, Bear Paw, Canyon, Duck Mountain, Fortress Mountain, Holiday Valley, John Eaves, Mission Ridge, Silver Summit…, Table Mountain