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Feature - Heroes, role models and twinkies

They draw on their experiences in long, productive lives to teach people the skills to slide down a mountain, and in this they find meaning


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"By the time we’d skied back down to Green Chair, she was ready to do it again! She hadn’t conquered her fear of heights but reasoned if she kept her eyes shut until we told her to open them, she could handle another ride up Peak. It was worth that much to her to have the opportunity to ski through that scenery one more time."

The other thing Doug’s known for at Ski School is One More Year. It’s what he answers whenever he’s asked how much longer he’ll teach. He’s been answering that way for longer than most people last in Ski School. Next year’s no exception. "One of these years, I’m going to have to pull the plug on teaching. If I’m going to teach, I want to teach. I don’t want to end up going through the motions.

"As soon as October rolls around and I see a little dusting on the mountains, I’m keen to go back at it," he says. "One more year."

* * *

On March 26, 1930, Mahatma Gandhi was nearing the end of his 200 mile protest march to the sea where he and his followers were determined to defy their British colonizer’s monopoly by making their own salt. Gandhi arrived at his destination on April 5 th . The next day, Hostess Twinkies were invented.

Mrs. Guthrie gave birth to a boychild and named him Don while that was going on.

Don grew up in Vancouver and two things were in his blood from the very start – mountains and the culture of Japan. Florence Kamura was the love of six year old Don’s life. She was sweet and smart and polite. She wore neat, little white socks and Don speaks of her 68 years later much as Jedediah Leland in Citizen Kane spoke of the girl in the white dress on the departing ferry who he saw for just a moment in time but whose image stayed with him a lifetime. Don adored Florence. Florence knew nothing of this. That’s the way things are when you’re six years old embroiled in a cross-cultural romance.

As a teenager, Don would catch a bus or ferry and head for Grouse Mountain to ski, in a manner of speaking, a manner preserved now only in museums. Skis were long, bindings were primitive and the best skiers skied with a single pole between their legs to help them stop and change direction. Of course it was a blast.