Story by Anthony Bewcyk.
Photo by William Geier.
I may be slightly biased as I have grown up the offspring of a live-or-die skier, and have spent the majority of my life working in dingy tech shops fixing skis and mounting bindings for like-minded individuals so that I can scrape together enough money for a lift ticket, but I believe skiing is not just a winter weekend activity. It honestly is a lifestyle.
People that are truly in love with skiing don’t just do it on the weekends as a leisure activity while their children sip hot chocolate in the lodge’s daycare. No. People that are in love with the sport live and breathe it. Whether it be the Seth Morrison poster hanging above their bed frame or the YouTube ski clip open in the background of their yearly report at work, people that love skiing do not put their skis away in May and forget about them until the next ski season kicks off.
It is a full-blown addiction with a rehab centre nowhere in sight.
They work mundane summer jobs to be able to afford taking winters off or they slave away at the office counting down the minutes until they can strap on their boots and hit the slopes.
In the words of Loverboy, “They are working for the weekend.”
Growing up in Calgary, Alta., there is absolutely no shortage of ski bums and enthusiasts around town. Being so close to the mountains, Calgary is the perfect city to be able to work a corporate lifestyle Monday to Friday, and then let your freak flag fly on the ski hills and let loose during the après after a waist-deep powder day in the Rockies.
Such a close proximity to the Rocky Mountains has given Calgary the chance to breed some of the sport’s most promising athletes, such as Rob Heule, Mark Hendrickson, and Robert Boersma.
“I [initially] started snowboarding, but during a family trip to a friends cabin in Fernie, B.C., I tried skiing and loved it. After that, I started getting into freestyle skiing through some friends in Calgary at Canada Olympic Park (COP),” said Boersma.
Learning skiing at the age of 13, Boersma spent his evenings and weekends honing his skills on the boxes, rails and jumps at COP. He also spent as much time as possible on ‘real mountains’, such as Sunshine and Lake Louise.
“I think that these mountains have the scale that is needed to grow as a passionate skier. You can start out barely making it down the mountain and no matter how much you progress you will never out grow these mountains,” expresses Boersma.
“They will humble you consistently with new challenges and beauty.”
No matter how many times you ski the same hill in the Rockies, it will still find a new way to kick your ass each and every time, pushing you as a person and as a skier.
And the worst part? You’ll enjoy every second of it.
“These mountains have shaped me as a person just as much they have a skier.”
“I’ve learned how to set goals, and work towards them. I have experienced failure, and know how to learn from it. I learned how to take on things that scare me.”
“Skiing in these challenging and diverse mountains provides a base for many transferable life skills, and the undeniable humility that is needed when exploring them,” divulges Boersma.
Alberta may be beautiful and filled with mountains, however, neighbouring the Rockies to the west is the incredible interior British Columbia. With mountain towns scattered throughout, these magnificent ranges have brought us some of the most household names in skiing. Skiers such as Matt Margetts, Sean Pettit, Riley Leboe and Joe Schuster all grew up in the interior.
“Growing up in B.C. has shaped me as a skier by allowing me unlimited access to challenging terrain and amazing snow conditions,” explains Matt Margetts, 2014 winter Olympian and competitive freestyle skier.
“With beauty, vastness, and phenomenal snow conditions, the West Coast and interior of B.C. are the most breathtaking places in the world,” raves the globetrotting professional who has spent time skiing all corners of the world.
Whether you grew up skiing park laps at COP, or you spent your weekends on the steep and deep slopes of Revelstoke, there is no doubt you owe a portion of yourself as a skier to your hometown roots.
People such as Matt Margetts and Robert Boersma will forever be engrained into the history of skiing because of their love and passion for the sport.
We are all creatures of circumstance. After all, being raised in such a magnificent place as Calgary will no doubt shape your vision of life and what you want from it.
If you are lucky, you will get to be a skier of circumstance.