When I was about 12 years old, I got a pair of cross-country skis for Christmas to use on the trails at our local golf course in Saskatoon. My friends and I weren’t skilled, but we had lots of fun. In high school, I was too busy to ski, but after graduating from university, I moved to Regina to work as a physical therapist.
Here it’s flat with ample amounts of snow, and every year there’s a ‘Ski Swap’ where people can purchase new or used equipment. I outfitted myself with boots, skis and poles, and joined a few friends from work out on the trails. That’s when I fell in love with this sport. For me, it’s just the right energy expenditure: more than a walk but less than jogging.
Now at 42, I’ve bought better gear and have some core friends who ski with me. Nicole Pylatiuk and I have been skiing together for about 10 years. She’s also a physical therapist and the mother of three-year-old twin boys. We started skiing every week for fitness, but now we call it our ‘therapy time.’
I also try to get out once a week with my daughters, Breanna, 10, and Jenaya, 7. We live near several parks with cross-country ski trails, plus there’s an area outside of the city with 20 kilometres of groomed trails.
I even help coach ski lessons for kids through a ‘jackrabbit’ program. My inspiration? In the 2010 Paralympics, I watched Brian McKeever win three gold medals for Canada in cross-country skiing’and he is visually impaired.
This sport also gets me out of the city. Each season, the Regina Ski Club offers trips to various parks all around the province for a great price. I love that you can throw your skis on the bus, get driven to your destination, ski for two to four hours, go for supper and then someone drives you home again. How easy is that! Cross-country skiing also seems to promote longevity’a few people are in their 70s and 80s, and they can kick my butt.
For the past five years, I’ve participated in the Duck Mountain Loppet‘an event with measured distances for various ages and different stages of skiing ability. My longest distance is 37 kilometres’there’s no way I could run that distance, so I am thrilled to ski that far. Plus, I love the good-tired feeling after being outside, exercising and sharing it with friends.
As a physical therapist, I work with clients who have had amputations, many of whom would love to be able to ski but no longer have the ability to do so. This makes me appreciate all that I can do with my limbs’and it’s the only sport I get giddy about!
This article was originally titled "’It’s the only sport I get giddy about’" in the January/February 2012 issue of Best Health. Subscribe today to get the full Best Health experience’and never miss an issue!