Exploring winter sports is a family affair

Just the other day I was reminiscing about being in high school. I remember walking down the street with a group of friends, wearing a pair of boots that were fashionable for the time but ridiculous for the season. They had no insulation and no treads.

No, it wasn’t my first winter living in Canada; I just thought I was too cool for real winter boots.

As we walked towards another group of kids I stepped on a patch of black ice and took one of the biggest, and most embarrassing, wipeouts of my life which landed me flat on my butt. In all probability my butt was protected only by jeans which had at least a couple holes in them because this was the mid-eighties and I was clearly an idiot.

I also wouldn’t have been wearing gloves or a hat because, again, I was so, so cool. Too cool to dress warmly, too cool to ski, too cool to skate, too cool for anything that would have made winter remotely bearable.

Of course there is nothing less cool than spilling out on the sidewalk in front of other people. That irony may have been lost on my teenage self.

These days I’m definitely dressing appropriately for the weather, but I still haven’t embraced winter the way many of my fellow Canadians seem to. As I’ve always said, I don’t do any winter sports, so there is no upside for me when it comes to this season.

Well, it never occurred to me that this was a choice that I could change until my recent experiences trying new sports.

Don’t get me wrong, I definitely appreciate beautiful winter days, when the snow has just fallen and the tree branches hang with the weight of fresh snow. On those days I might gear up and go for a walk or take the kids tobogganing. I’m not a complete scrooge when it comes to winter. I’m just not as active as I should be when it’s cold out, and when the spring comes I always feel much better when I’m able to get out again and do my walks.

But this year is different. For the first time I’m actually excited for winter!

(If you read this back to me in February I may deny saying that but right now I’m feeling pretty psyched.)

What’s the difference? I’m committing to trying different winter sports like skating, skiing, cross-country skiing and even snowshoeing at least once.

And I’m not doing it alone. This is a family deal.

Maybe we’ll find a sport we love to do together that will make our winters something to look forward to. Maybe my kids will find a winter activity that they will excel at. Or maybe we’ll just make some great memories together. The only possible downside is the chance that I’ll end up looking uncool while I learn some new skills.

Luckily I left my concerns about looking cool back in 1986, together with those dangerously impractical boots and strategically ripped jeans.

3 responses to “Exploring winter sports is a family affair

  1. Good luck getting out there! Winter can be fun, as long as it’s not too cold (I’m from the prairies – I KNOW cold). I have many memories of my parents forcing us up on a Saturday or Sunday morning to go for a cross country ski. You can imagine the protests from my brother (a teenager at the time). We still look back on those memories fondly and laugh even though I think it almost broke my mother actually getting my brother to do it. I now do all sorts of winter activities with my kids and they love it. They are acutally usually disapointed with the Toronto winters because we “don’t get enough snow”.

  2. I’m with you, Sara, on not loving winter! I played basketball, which is (technically) a winter sport, and loved skating, as a kid, but I didn’t have much time for it in the years since I “grew up”. When my kids were just getting into coasting, snowman-building, etc., I always came up with excuses for my husband to take them out to “enjoy” the snow.

    Two years ago, however, we all went for a snowshoe trek up a local trail, and I discovered an outdoor winter sport that I loved! Our local elementary school applied for, and received, a grant, which allowed them to purchase a full class set of snowshoes (and some adult ones too), which they loan out to community members on weekends. Once the kids tried it, and realized how easy it was, we were all in! I occasionally have to bribe them with hot chocolate and cookies for the halfway point, but once they get out there, they love it.

    Last year we were really motivated, as a community, by the CBC Live Right Now challenge, so we organized weekly evening snowshoe hikes (those were adults-only, so we could really get our hearts pumping). I truly am looking forward to a big snowfall, so we can get out on the trail again! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

    1. Wow, Susan, I’m so inspired! Thank you so much for your comment. I have to admit of all the winter sports snowshoeing does intrigue me the most probably because I love walking so much (and dislike ending up on my butt as you may have read above). Now I’m even more excited to try it. And kudos to your school for an amazing idea. I wish every school had a program like that!

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