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Day 4 of the season and my season only started 8 days ago. Here’s another TR from the nostalgia file…one from 10 years ago: the 2002-03 season.

With a new baby at home, the season started late, but I was catching up. After a late start at Whiteface on Sunday, January 5, I skied the first Masters’ race of the season at Fortune then Saturday was the first ski lessons with the Edelweiss Ski School for Morgane. Although she started skiing at 2 1/2, we wanted to register her into a ski program so we would reserve time for her and not get carried away time-wise by her new sister.

It was Canadian Week at Sugarloaf; they offered Canadians deals on lodging and lift tickets on this mid-January midweek for us crazies. As soon as I graduated from university and its ski team, I was no longer able or had any desire to ski anything with less than a 2000’ vertical. I started seeking out specials within 3 hours from Montreal (300km from Champlain Bridge); although I no longer live in Montreal, I’m still seeking out skiing deals ten years later.

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source : Google Map – Montréal (A), Bromont (B), Sugarloaf (C)

Like the previous Sugarloaf Canadian Week visit in 2002, Lucky Luke was in for some Maine turns at the Loaf; much better than going to work. I don’t remember if I slept at my mom’s in Montreal or headed straight for Lucky’s place in Bromont in the Eastern Townships on the Sunday night. We had a bunch of cassettes and 2 pairs of skis each for the slightly less than 3 hours road trip from Bromont. Once off the autoroute and after a few turns, we ended up on one of the straightest non-flat highways that I know: Quebec Highway 212. Once we crossed into Maine at Woburn, we kept our eyes open for moose on that last 30 -minute stretch between the Quebec-Maine border and Sugarloaf. Lucky had already been unlucky once, crashing into a deer while going to a ski race ten years previously (R.I.P. Ford Tempo). I wanted to be sure it didn’t happen again, especially with a moose. Not sure if we saw any moose or deer on that day, but my average over the years on this stretch of road or the one heading towards Sunday River is pretty high.

I love skiing at Sugarloaf, I love the topography. A nice cone with fall-line skiing which gets steeper as you get higher. On that day, like on many of my trips, I had my good skis (the 183cm Atomic Beta Race 10:22, a pure GS ski) and my rock skis (10-year old, 205cm straight yellow Rossignol 7Ss). Started off the morning with the good pair, the rock skis were staying in the car for now.

The sky was gray and the place was fairly deserted. I guess it’s not surprising for a non-Holiday Monday at Sugarloaf in mid-January. There was a small layer of fresh snow on the beautiful corduroy base. Lucky and I were running laps all over the mountain. We started off with runs off the 1750’ Sugarloaf SuperQuad, hitting runs like Hayburner, King’s Landing, Comp Hill and Narrow Gauge, slowly moving further to the right to the 1500’ slower Spillway double. Always thought it was pretty impressive to have two double chairs running side-by-side using the same towers. Unlike the previous year, the King Pine quad was closed, basically the only lifts running were Spillway and the HSQ. Concentrated on turns on Spillway, Sluice…then throwing us down the steep White Nitro pitch and hitting the runway down the narrower trails like Wedge and Bubblecuffer.

As we accumulated the runs, the snow was also accumulating. We decided to keep the fast skis and keep carving some nice high-speed turns in the fresh layer of snow. Shadowing each other, loading the skis to an explosive acceleration at every long radius turns over the roll of the narrow trails. The perception of these lower trails is very different when you’re running at warp speed with the twists, rolls and blurred trees on each side. No time to stop during these fast laps, we only stopped for lunch. In the afternoon, we continued racing down trails in what was now a blizzard. Loving to ski high-speed turns in a snow storm: not something I’ve been in a habit to do, but the skis were skiing awesome on that day. It wasn’t only a powder GS day, it was a memorable day which I can recall 10 years after. Although the Spillway double was a relatively slow lift, we skied 24 runs which would be somewhere between 36000 and 42000 vertical feet on that day.. I remember Lucky saying we skied Everest and a half!!! In the previous year, we skied much slower, more varied terrain, more lifts for a total of 31k.

Drive Home and the next Big Eastern Mountain Outing Deals

The drive back to Bromont wasn’t as fast. We drove back in the full-out storm and dark, it took us over 5 hours to make it back to Bromont: double the morning travel time. We thought of staying the night, but Lucky had to work the next day. I left for Montreal that morning for a stop at Dafran in Montreal to pick up and pay for my new pair of slalom skis for the next Masters’ Race. It was my first pair of Slalom under 201cm in 20 years: some short 157cm Atomic SL11s.

What a great day, the next ski deals in our January Calendar were Whiteface’s Superbowl Super Sunday on the 26th followed by Mad River Glen’s Roll back the Clock day on the 28th. Lucky Luke was definitely in for MRG, however this time I was going to leave my GS skis at home. The new slalom when going to left in Ottawa also.

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MadPat’s latest start of the ski season EVER!!! A few weeks ago I posted the December 18 start of my 1992-93 season from the French Alps. Although it was late start, the season 1994-95 would turn out to be even later. A night skiing outing on January 2, 1995 at St-Sauveur/Avila before driving back to the new job the next morning in Ottawa.

What do all these late starts have in common? Finishing a thesis; starting a new job 200 km from home or having a baby. The last one is the best reason of the three.

Priorities

The January 2003 season start was the day after my second daughter’s two-month birthday. Something has to take precedent to that first day on skis. Tara Erin Meije was born on November 4 at 8am: it started snowing at that exact moment. A nice 7 cm fell to the ground,  first snow accumulation to stay in Ottawa that season. Stoked, even if I wasn’t going to do much skiing in the next few months. I didn’t take much time off from work when Morgane was born 5 years prior, however I figured out a few things in the last few years. Work should never stop you from living or take too much room in your live. I might have taken only 2 days off work when Morgane was born: I wasn’t going to make that error twice. The Canadian Government extended the unemployment insurance for Maternal/Parental leave from 6 to 12 months. Maternal leave is 3 months and Dads or/and Moms are allowed an extra 9 months of parental leave. For our first daughter, as a student, my wife hadn’t enough insurable income to qualify for unemployment back in 1997, this time she did. She decided to take the 3 months maternal and I took all of the 9 months parental. Regardless if we were being paid or not, Caroline and I took a whole year off. A colleague at work mentioned that I was lucky to take the parental leave as his wife would never share it, I told him that he could have done the same thing. I was taking 3 months unpaid leave, my wife wasn’t going to be paid for 9 months during that year. Like for many things in my life; it’s all a question of choice and priorities. I understand that not everyone think they can afford it, however that work colleague’s family income was much greater than ours. He couldn’t take the time off maybe because they weren’t willing to sacrifice other things. Time flies, sometimes you just need to take time.

Everything requires is about sacrifices and choices. For example, If I wouldn’t ski I would be much richer….but my life would be poorer.

Busy Fall

Holidays are all ready over, school starts on Monday as we are heading into the second week of January with a looming first Ottawa Masters ski race on Wednesday night: my second season on the circuit. Although I started my year off work in early December, pre-Christmas time is always a busy time. We also had just moved in our new home two weeks prior to Tara arrival. I absolutely wanted to get some turns in before heading to the first race. I needed to go to Montreal, so I did what we often did in the first years we lived in Ottawa, go to Montreal with detours towards Tremblant or Whiteface. So instead of driving 6 hours return to get to Whiteface, I would 3.5 hour and make it to Montreal and back to Ottawa. The Tremblant route adds the same amount of time to the usual 4-hour return trip up North.

map-ot-wf-mtl
Google Map : Ottawa to Montreal via Whiteface NY. Mont Tremblant is at the top of map.

exchange_rate2003
Exchange rate from 1985 to January 2003

exchange_rate2013
Exchange rate from 1985 to current (January 2013)

Super Sunday it is…Surfin’ Sunday!!!

Early on Sunday morning, I grabbed my Fels straight 202cm skis and headed to Whiteface Mountain for some real vertical. I preferred Whiteface over Tremblant, it was the first of three Super Sunday of the season with lift tickets at $30 US. Even with the Canadian dollars being near its all-time low at below 65 cents US which had added an extra 60% to the price of the ticket. Lift tickets ended up costing almost $50 which was still cheaper than Tremblant’s full season rate.

I wasn’t looking to make a ton of runs, just first turns for the season. The gold was to get out then head to Montreal. Whiteface had received 13″ in the past 24 hours making for nice powder/packed powder conditions. Forecast called for some flurries during the day with temperatures hovering between -5c and -10c. Not to warm for an Island Madness Super Sunday theme. Summit runs were partially open and Northway was still closed. I did only 7 runs, probably skiing off the summit and Little Whiteface a couple of time. Not a fan of Cloudsplitter Gondola, just give the Little Whiteface double and Summit Quad for the day. Headed taking the road towards I-87 and Montreal to my mom’s home, back in Ottawa on Monday.

2002-03 ski season

It was a late start to the season and I don’t know how many days I was going to get this season? Even if I stayed home with my wife and our new-born, the priorities were necessarily turns. Of course I would have my regular Wednesday nights Masters ski race and registered Morgane for ski lessons at Edelweiss. I would also get the odd trip to outside the region. Ski lessons were starting the following weekend: 8 Saturdays until early March. Although Morgane started skiing in March 2000, this was going to the first time in lessons. I wanted to book something that would force us on the hill at a regular basis, because without the weekly dedicated time at the hill between Dad and the oldest daughter, there would be a danger to not taking the time for her. Morgane was the centre of our World for 5 years: now she wasn’t alone and we needed to balance that. It’s nice to have a new kid in town, as long as you don’t forgot the one you already have.

There is also the real possibility of the family leaving one month to visit my wife’s family in France and show the baby to the grand-mothers. Probably the best time to go before Morgane gets to Grade 1 next year. If we go, I’ll definitely bring my skis in make some turns.

Stay tuned!!!

Whiteface snow report

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