Posts Tagged ‘ski’

Still falling in love

February 14, 2009
Wessel's first snow shoe experience

Wessel's first snowshoe experience

I remember it so clearly. On our first date, Wessel arrived at my house in his boxy 21-year-old Mercedes Benz with his rented snowshoes and recently purchased cross-country skis. I was living in Quincy, Mass., near Boston, and Wessel lived a little south of me, in Hull. He’d moved from the Netherlands only a few months earlier for work (medical diagnostics).

Wessel is a big long-distance ice skater, but he’d only recently learned to ski, and he’d never snowshoed. That winter of 2002-3 had been wonderful for snow sports, and I often went to the nearby Blue Hills Reservation to take it all in.

We had first met on Valentine’s Day 2003, at the Delta baggage carousel at Logan Airport in Boston. Two weeks later, we met up for coffee, but mostly it was for an interview for the little ditty I wrote about his crazy ice-skating odyssey for my Boston Globe travel column. Our first “real” date was on March 8, 2003.

Diane takes a break

Diane takes a break

The activities were my idea. Since he’d only recently begun to ski, I figured we’d be equals on the snow, as I’ve skiied like a beginner for a decade now. And, of course, anyone can snowshoe.

The day was perfect, with deep snow, brilliantly blue skies, and little wind. We skied first, gliding slowly over the mostly flat trails, flanked with evergreens and bare branches. The snow sparkled. We talked and laughed and shared life stories.

Out in the Blue Hills as long as daylight allowed us

We didn't leave the Blue Hills until the moon started to rise

The snowshoe portion was all laughs. Wessel thought the sport, featuring giant foot coverings like tennis racquets, was pretty hilarious. We walked through the woods, creating our own trails as we went, then climbed up a hill to a rocky outcrop, where we could see the Boston skyline. We sat on a huge slab of granite to eat our sandwiches and I remember feeling the energy zing between us. I didn’t want the day to end. We left under a rising moon.

I invited Wessel to stay for dinner, figuring, sadly, that he probably had other plans, or had had enough for one date. Instead, he said yes. Woo-hoo! I cooked a simple pasta dish, and we shared a bottle of red wine. We talked and talked and hugged and hugged, and Wessel left around 1 a.m.

We started falling in love that day, and it hasn’t stopped.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you, my dear. Happy Valentine’s to all.

4.5 Gs of ‘fun’ at Canada Olympic Park

March 5, 2008

I spent several hours recently at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary for a Globe story. It’s only 15 minutes from downtown, and so close to the highway that you can see skiers while you’re driving by. Ski jumping in Canada Olympic ParkI’m sure the park was in the boonies when it was built for the 1988 Winter Olympics, but now the suburbs have reached it. Adrenalin junkies can get their fix in all seasons here. In the winter: skiing, snowboarding (including a pipeline for those who dare), and bobsleigh rides that hit 4.5 Gs. In the summer there’s  luge rides and major mountain biking. Or how about, year-round, a zip line that reaches speed of up to 75 mph (= 120 km/h)? To all this I have to say: yuck.

Diane sits in bobsleighBeing a weenie, I took the audio tour. The audio tracks were fantastic, using interviews and sound effects to really put you in the athletes’ minds and settings. Unfortunately the equipment and technology had many failings, but the park is working to improve it. I did get to sit in a bobsleigh (woo-hoo!), watch ski jumpers, and also interviewed several bobsleigh riders for my article. 

Here’s what one of them, Calgarian Rob Ingram, said: “It starts out like a fast roller coaster then progresses to a hurtling freight train, and sounds like one too. It was deafening as we reached terminal speed (120 km/h). The bumps make focusing difficult and the 4.5 G force in the corners pushes you down in your seat and slams your head against the sled.”

Gross.

Bobsleighing in Canada Olympic ParkThen, and this cracks me up, Rob goes on to say: “It was very fun, especially the Kreisel Corner, the 270-degree corner (the most G-force). I ended up with short-term stiffness in my neck and shoulders from the pounding.”

Excuse me, Rob. It was “very fun”? Are you insane? Well, he did used to drag race, so he clearly has the adrenalin gene. Rob was there for his 53rd birthday. Happy Birthday, eh?