by Derek Putz
Instead of burying my head in books during this semester's reading week, I chose to bury my head in the snow... repeatedly.
It was my first-ever university ski trip. Forty-odd students packed into a bus and drove halfway across the country to enjoy the mountain air of Fernie, B.C. for three days. Like everyone else on the bus, we weren't ready to return to the tribulations of school, but alas here I am back at school, ready to document my trip.
Before embarking, I was determined to disprove the stereotype that all university ski trips are filled with drunken shenanigans. But to quote the first stranger who rode up with me on a chairlift:
"University ski trip eh? I can't really remember mine... but it was a good time."
For anyone who doesn't know me, I'm not much of a drinker. When the group insisted we stop in Medicine Hat for cheap liquor rather than food, I started to lose faith that I could break this stereotype. Perhaps the final nail in the coffin was finding out that in each room in Fernie, four dozen cans of Great Western beer were waiting.
So to make a long story short, everything you hear about university ski trips are probably true. In fact, I ended up getting drunk myself, from a drinking game coined ‘quarter bounce.' Not being a fan of beer, I instead had a mix of Sprite and Vodka in one of those individually wrapped Travelodge cups. Unfortunately, there was no cover on the cup and the quarters in the game continued to find their way into my drink. It was then that I learned the art of downing a full cup of alcohol like I had just found a well of water in the desert.
Our accommodations were stingy at best, but hey, 400 bucks for 3 day ski trip...can't expect royalty. The Travelodge certainly wasn't a fancy condo on the hill, but I figured that a group of four would at least have separate bedrooms. Instead, I opened the door to find two queen size beds, side by side... not even a flimsy wall to separate them. I then found out that my girlfriend, Adriana and I would be sharing the room with two other girls. Without going into much detail, I'll let your mind wander to a Three's Company situation (or should I say four's a crowd.)
Before I continue I have to warn you that what you are about to read is both graphic and may be disturbing for some readers... of course I am now talking about the skiing itself. Don't worry dear reader; I assure you there's more to a university ski trip than just drunken debauchery and hotel room antics. We were there for the skiing after all.
Some of the tumbles I had were both excruciatingly painful and prime candidates for Jackass or America's Funniest Home Videos. Just to clarify, I am a snowboarder, with three whole days of experience. Now, compare this to my wonderful girlfriend, whose closest thing to a fall was extending her ski pole to help me out of the snow.
At my worst point on the second day, I got stuck at the top of Cedar Bowl. The rest of my ski group ended up way ahead and didn't know what happened to me. I didn't have enough momentum to make it over an upward slope and was left with two options. I could either crawl up the long slope like a wounded dog or ski down a difficult run through the trees. I wanted to live to see my 22nd birthday, so I took the long road - a half an hour long. My poor girlfriend had thought the worst: that I was upside-down lying mangled and broken in a forest somewhere. Fortunately, I finally made it back to her and managed to enjoy the rest of the trip.
Perhaps worse than all the falls, was the ten hour bus ride home that didn't arrive until 3:30 A.M. You don't know soreness until you've tumbled down a mountain for three consecutive days and then are scrunched into an unnatural, almost fetal position on a bus in the middle of the night.
But overall the trip was a huge success. Everyone agreed that the weather there was gorgeous compared to Regina. The excitement to hit the slopes rivaled that of Christmas morning for most in the group. Not only did I not think about school the whole time out there, I enjoyed exploring the quiet town and made some new friends along the way. I think my girlfriend, Adriana put it best.
"It takes a whole semester of school to build up your stress, but only one great run to make it all go away."
Photos submitted by Derek Putz