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Pique n your interest

Spring clean


Spring is officially here. Evenings are longer, two-for-one deals are appearing in restaurant windows and the bears are waking up. Plus I can no longer get away with ignoring "typhoid fridge' – the lime green appliance that festers in the communal kitchen of my 10-member household. It hid fairly well under the cover of darkness over preceding months, when every possible light hour was spent on the slopes. Now the sun shines brightly at least 14 out of 24 hours, and its dank, walled contents are in stark view. It makes the potentially deadly microbe cryptosporidium infection found in Saskatchewan waters pale in comparison.

But before tackling that task, I'd like to take a moment to reminisce on my first winter in Canada. Admittedly if we are talking snow quantity, it falls considerably short of my debut winter in North America when I lived at Mammoth Mountain, California. I mean, who could ever forget that fabulous season of 1997-1998? That one went down in Powder Hound folklore as "the season we all got buried – many times." Mammoth at that time was boasting a 14-foot snow base and a frequent entry point into our house was via my bedroom window, on the second floor. It was the season that snowmakers went broke and snowshovellers made bank – and got tendinitis. Apparently it was the same here.

However on occasion it was almost too much of a good thing. I recall waking up on a blustery late March morning to see the all-too familiar sight of at least another three feet of fresh powder. "This has to be the last one, must go riding, must go riding," I muttered, stumbling out of bed and into my nearly dry snowboarding gear. And here's the bonus. I got to say the same thing throughout April, May and June. That summer day I finally drove out of town to less fertile pastures in London, England, it was once again snowing. No surprises there. The resort finally closed on July 5, 1998 – not due to lack of snow but rather lack of interest. Everyone in LA was busy surfing. Skiing was, like, so yesterday.

So let's not lie. The season of 2000-2001 has generally not been the one of buried lifts and chest-deep powder. I say the word "generally" because of the "would have, could have, should have" opportunity I missed this season to heli-drop on Rainbow and Mount Currie with my extreme skier friends. Darn. So what if my extreme abilities rested largely in my extreme imagination.

But what this winter lacked in snow, it provided in great people. I have been lucky enough to meet some of the most fun and inspirational people on this planet here in Whistler this season. Not least being some of the folk I interviewed for a feature on disabled skiing. People like wheelchair athlete Rick Hansen who didn't let a disability prevent him from achieving so much and who was a surprisingly down-to-earth guy. A reminder not to expect someone surrounded by so much publicity hype to be pretentious or even worse, piously preachy.

As for Donovan Tildesley – an extremely cheerful 16-year-old blind skier from Vancouver – I still think of him every time I pass under his favourite run, Blackcomb Mountain's Couloir Extreme. I have yet to tick that one off my list. The few times this season I peered over the edge it was an uninviting, steep ice mogul field and err, I was heading the other way. Besides he's younger, he can bounce back.

Not that most people would suspect our age gaps are that great. Always a firm believer in the written word, I have taken this common liquor store sign to heart: "If we ask for ID, take it as a compliment." As this happens to me frequently, it is best I adopt this attitude.

How this situation keeps occurring for someone who is more than 10 years in the clear is somewhat of a mystery. Maybe it's the freckles that keep me young. Could it be the sport of poking fun at our Aussie neighbours or that great New Zealand sun, so free of a pesky ozone layer. Then again, it could be taking after my mother. Sorry to spill the beans to the whole world dad, but in the single week my parents have been here visiting me, three times when out with my mother a helpful Canadian sales assistant has asked dad if he will be paying for his daughter also. I am nowhere in sight.

Since they are about six months apart in age, this comes as quite a blow, well for him least. From my position I'd just like to remind everyone to celebrate Mother's Day this Sunday – thanks mum!

— Robyn Cubie