Tag: skiing

The Olympic Effect

A while back I wrote about the Facebook Effect, which we all know and love, I suppose.  According to Facebook all our friends have much more exciting, fulfilling and generally marvelous lives than us, and it’s sometimes hard to put all that marvelousness into context.  Anyway, today we have been wondering about The Olympic Effect.  A friend in England posted his opinion about the Winter Olympics in his usual diplomatic, thoughtful way; “Watch some toffy-nosed bint sliding downhill on a plank cheered on by all her Hooray-Yah mates?… No thanks!”  And of course, in England, winter sports are, by and large, for those who can afford them; the ones who take a couple of skiing holidays every year, buy expensive equipment and send their children to train overseas.  There’s little chance of getting some support from the Government and no chance of a serious training program through the school.

When we moved here, one of the things we really enjoyed getting used to was the accessibility of sports, equipment and facilities.  How can we explain to someone back in the UK that skiing at Whistler is not really a big deal when it’s just a 2 hour drive up the road, and 2 of the children ski for free through the Government sponsored sports schemes?  Ok, it’s still a big deal because it’s fabulous, beautiful and awesome, but we don’t really bother with Whistler anyway because its more expensive than the 3 ski resorts within 30 minutes of our back door and for novices like us, they’ll do just fine.  When we were flying back from Heathrow after Christmas we were in the line-up behind the British Bobsled Team.  I asked them if they were traveling to Whistler to compete or to train, and they said a bit of both.  “Where do you train in England?” I asked. “I don’t remember hearing about a British sliding centre.”  “There isn’t one,” said one of the athletes, a bit ruefully.  “We mostly train on things like go-carts down a hill.”

So when our friend watches the Winter Olympics, he is likely to be watching well-heeled British athletes who have paid their way to the top of the profession, or are living and training overseas and competing for Team GB when the occasion arises.  They are no less dedicated for all that, but it’s hard to really get behind someone competing in a sport you can’t afford to try.  When we watch our Canadian Olympians we are cheering on people just like us and our children, who all have a chance to make it to the Olympics if they have the talent and the commitment.


Justine and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe, Gold and Silver at Sochi 2014

Our love hate relationship with snow

Snow on the drive
When it snows we need to park at the top of our drive

This week in Vancouver we had our first big dump of snow and it got me thinking about how we both love and hate the white stuff.

The Love Affair

Before we came to Canada, snow was a rare and exciting thing. And it was one of those things we were most looking forward to. The first year we all signed up for learn to ski or snow board lessons. (The kids all went with the cooler snow boarding option, while Sue and I hit the slopes, literally, with two planks of wood strapped to our feet).

Even if you are not new to Canada the start of the winter season is greeted with excitement. Many people are celebrating that our local ski hills are all opening early this year. The real enthusiasts are heading for Whistler, which opened today.

The Long Drive Home

The other side of the coin is commuting. I am talking here about places like Victoria and Vancouver where we are not used to snow at lower elevations. It comes once or twice a year, and generally not for more than a few days. But in that time it proves how ill prepared most of us are.

Winter tires are only the norm for people who do have to travel any distance. If you’re going to Whistler every weekend, or over the mountain passes to the interior, then you will definitely want snow tires. Otherwise many drivers skip the expense and stick with all season tires.

Most of the time that’s ok.

Then it snows big time. And you’re slipping around on the roads, sliding through the four way stop and are a danger to yourself and others.

That’s when we hate the snow.

There again, you could take the day off. Make a snowman or snow angels in the back yard. Get the snow bus to one of the ski hills. Or stay wrapped up by the fire and enjoy a real winter.

What are you looking forward to when it comes to your first Canadian winter?

What to wear when you arrive in Canada

Clothing store in Vancouver
Your new life requires a new way of dressing

As an immigrant to Canada you are probably expecting to spend out on a few things when you arrive. Often top of the list is replacing all the electrical items that you’ve left behind because they’re the wrong voltage – with men looking forward particularly to buying the boy’s toys.

But one thing you might not have thought you’d be spending out on is clothing. Specialist clothing in particular.

For some reason Canadians seem to believe that every outdoor activity deserves its own specialized clothing. The obvious one to think of is skiing or snowboarding. Clearly skiing in your jeans is not a great idea. A friend of mine tried and quickly found cold, wet denim was not pleasant at the top of a mountain.

So you probably planned on equipping yourself with the latest ski wear.

Maybe you intend to go kayaking. Here too you’ll need an outfit. But this is to be expected. You are out on the water, and that’s probably not part of your normal activities so it deserves special clothes for the conditions you’ll encounter.

What about cycling? Long gone are the days when our grandfathers hopped on a bike with their tweed suits, and no more specialized equipment than a pair of cycle clips. Nowadays it is rare that you see a cyclist who is not kitted out in lycra, with padded shorts, logo infested shirt, helmet and wrap around sunglasses. It must take quite some time to hop on the bike and ride to the shops for a loaf of bread.

If you pop into one of the outdoor outfitters, like MEC, you will find sections of the store devoted to equipping you for cycling, skiing, kayaking, climbing and even walking.

Yup! You may need special clothes to go walking. In fact my local recreation centre runs walking classes. Ok it is Nordic walking. Which apparently requires poles. Or is that Polish walking and it requires Swedes. I can see why you might need a lesson or two!

One further activity that deserves mention is Yoga. This seems to have become hugely popular if you judge by the number of people walking around wearing their Lululemon yoga gear. Actually in some areas I doubt if they’ll serve you in the coffee shop if you’re not wearing your Lulu’s.

Sporting events also require special clothing. Go to a Canucks game without wearing your Canucks jersey and you’ll feel pretty uncomfortable. Ditto for a Whitecaps soccer match.

The arts however have escaped the trend. Go to the theatre for example and people will be wearing a whole variety of outfits. You may see shorts and flip flops, or jeans and hoodies, and rarely a jacket or frock. Clearly Lululemon has an opportunity here : bring out a line for the theatre goer or art gallery visitor. Then we’d all know what to wear.


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