I was first introduced to skiing at the young age of six, with lace up leather boots and wooden skis at Perisher, NSW, Australia. But it wasn’t until I was in my 40’s that I really discovered what it was all about; and the beginnings of a life changing love affair with alpine skiing.
Fast forward another decade or so, and I am now a qualified Level 2 Canadian Ski Instructor. I’ve found my sporting passion and most of all, my happy place.
I’ve always loved active pursuits, albeit not necessarily had the sporty physique, and muddled along through the early years, trying my hand at a myriad of sports including skiing.
My first foray into skiing was with my family way back in the 1960’s with “old-school” gear, and tear off lift ticket vouchers that were just 20 cents a ride. We’d have a week at Perisher once a year. I never really improved, and I never found it to be like ‘riding a bike’. In fact, every return visit, it seemed to take me the entire week to get my ski legs, then it was all over for another year. The Perisher Ski School Milo Kids program was a godsend – for me, and my parents.
At best I was a decent beginner during the teen years, and if the truth be told, really only became more interested in skiing when I was old enough to partake in the après ski scene. Now that was fun.
University days saw many a mad weekend dash from Sydney, down the Hume Highway to the snowfields – lots of après, lots of skiing, lots of laughs. I never really classified myself as a decent skier, not even a half decent skier.
Married life and motherhood then put paid to the snow scene, for a decade or more.
Fast forward a few more years to my first overseas ski holiday. The destination was Canada – two resorts – Silver Star and Big White in British Columbia. With my husband, and two young kids in tow, I finally had the ‘headspace’ to have another crack at skiing.
This was the beginning of my alpine love affair – no, not with a ski instructor, but with the art of skiing. I picked up where I left off some 25 years earlier, and this time it was more than just the après scene.
Here’s what I discovered: If you’ve got a sense of adventure and don’t ski or snowboard, you may be missing out. The timing was right with our young family, to do this together – first time really for them, and time for my husband and I to reacquaint ourselves with the mountains. He’d only seen snow for the first time at the age of 24.
I’m not sure exactly what was my turning point in this two week vacation. Perhaps, doing something together as a family; maybe the euphoric experience as the endorphins kicked in; the sheer delight of being out in nature; or the spectacular Canadian winter landscape. Probably all of the above, and once you start to figure it out, a serious sense and incredible feeling of accomplishment. “Hey I can still do this.”
A young Kristian Armstrong (now a CSIA L4 Snowpro at Big White Ski Resort) was instrumental in getting our kids up and going, gaining confidence. I knew I would need to keep up with them before too long, and now was my time.
For me, the huge change was the ski technology (aka ski boots that fitted and didn’t feel like me feet were squished) and the ‘new’ carve skis. Add to that the reliable snow conditions, perfectly groomed corduroy, and uncluttered runs. I could relax and enjoy, and importantly gain confidence.
This was the key to learning, under the watchful eye of a local snow pro as they call them.
Sue with her family – Big White 2006
Since that first year of skiing at SilverStar and Big White in 2002, I have been lucky enough to return every year to British Columbia to ski with my family and friends. I can honestly say I consistently improved year on year. Even after an ACL injury in 2009, I was back on the hill the following season, after a summer of rehab, physically stronger than ever, albeit somewhat tentative.
I truly believe a significant percentage of ski improvement is a mind game. Confidence is king, no doubt about it. Post ACL, growing confidence and gaining skills has been the key to my success. Testament to this, is achieving my Level 1 & 2 Canadian Ski Instructor Alliance Certification in 2017 & 2018.
Today, I feel blessed to call British Columbia and Big White Ski Resort my winter home, where I have an amazing a community of skiing friends and clients, who, like me, come back year after yeaSr, to live their dream of skiing.