Posts Tagged ‘Mom’

Three day course at the hill. A course to become a certified coach. You see, after skiing for the first time in 1968, I finally went to go some type of skiing certification. I guess I’m living life upside down…almost everyone get into skiing then get a real job…I’m doing the opposite.

All the friends I know that went to get some type of skiing certification did so when they were in their late teens or early twenties; the demographics of this course wasn’t any different. I was the outlier, everyone else were maybe 21 and under. I was almost the oldest, except for the “facilitator” who was 2 months older than me. A majority of the people in the course were ex-FIS racers.

Friday December 6

The day after the rain and thaw, the temperature was holding steady at -1c. The meeting place for in the main lodge at 8:30am even if the lift only opened at 9am. There wasn’t many cars in the parking lot when I arrived at 8:15am.

The course was a mixed of “in-class” and “on snow”. On the first two days we would ski from 10 to 2:30 then back into the class until close to 5pm.

The coverage was still good on Chemin des bois and Easy Street, but the surface was of a frozen granular type. A bit like skiing on small marbles. Let’s just say it was much better a few days ago. The terrain was limited, but the Easy Street is nice for a green run. The facilitator showed us a series of exercises and drills. The intensity increased until I was sweating. A few in the group got warned about their lift ticket not being placed on their jacket, geez there were maybe 10 other people on the hill. Not surprising the kids from the club have been asked about their pass when they had skinsuits. That being said, not sure how busy the weekend will be?


Saturday December 7

Another -1c this morning. Edelweiss has a few snow guns blowing on Yodeler (aka Rockstar) and one the side of Easy Street pitch. It was frozen granular, but the surface was much better. The ski team has on the hill this morning plus the early season skiers and boarders. I always use the term skiers, but when I do, it includes all riders (ski and snowboard). Edelweiss is known for its park, so they get a fair percentages of boarders on the hill. You wouldn’t know that segment of the sport was in sharp decline.

Skiing on weekends can bring a few pet peeves. Instead of lift tickets, we were bugged about having to go around and use the coral when no one was there. That is probably where I damaged my base with the few peddles lying around. There were a few peddles on the hill also, I guess that what happens when the groomer drive over gravel.

As the class was skiing on Chemin des bois, one from our group was cutoff and had to avoid a crash by a split second. There were a few of those busy moments on the hill during the weekend which is one of the dangers when there is limited terrain.

Our facilitator reminded me of the coach I had in university. Both of them escaped Eastern Europe via flights to Cuba in the mid 1980s and spoke in a thick accent, in both official languages.


Sunday December 8

A cold -13c morning for Evaluation Day. I was in terrible shape as I managed to sleep only 2 terrible hours. One of my daughters was sick while the other had a sleepover. Tara was going to the hill with her friend and her ski patrol dad. I had to adjust her used boots with Morgane’s old skis and bring then at the hill. I wasn’t going to be able to lookout for my daughter for lunch or anything else, so I asked my wife to come to the hill with me.

When we arrived at 8:15am, Tara was already ready. For the course, I was told what I needed to go to pass. It should have been easy, but my brain was scrabbled from lack of sleep and fatigue plus going the exercises.

The snowguns had more all night and the conditions were groomed to awesomeness. Best day out of the three. They were huge mounds of snow on Yodeler and Trou du Diable, so it shouldn’t be long until the area had some extra terrain.

We got on the snow at 9, as everyone had to do a lesson. It warm up to a nice -6c, conditions were awesome; I wasn’t. 😦 It would have been easier if we still had straight skis and shape skis never existed. Damn A-frame which come back as a reflex. After waiting for over one hour, we had individual interviews.

The wise Polish guy said to me today that I need to work hard to become a good skier…and he is right. I could have skied better today, a good night sleep can’t be overstated. If they had a retro category, I would rock!!! Bring back to 205s. Technique has changed, but hard to teach an old dog a new trick, but I squeaked by, I passed… it was ugly. Anyway, I’ll have to ski more to work on it.


After three days of 8 to 5 at the hill and six out of the last eight on snow; I’ll take a break for a few days, even if there is fresh snow on the ground.

What’s next in skiing? I don’t know, there is always working to get better. What is better than a Level 1? Level 2! I already have a Avy 1. Avy 2 wouldn’t be in the cards for this Winte, but somewhere down the road. Oh yeah, Instructor 1 & 2 and Coach 2 would also be nice; it would make four Level 2 as I already have my Race Official 2. You see, I’m living life upside down…almost everyone get into skiing then get a real job…I’m doing the opposite.

Over sixty years after my father became a Certified Ski Instructor at Chalet Cochand in 1952, now it was my turn. My mother always discouraged me of being to involved in skiing like my father and focus on getting a good job unlike him. I’m at the crossroads and not sure what I want to do in life, but one thing is certain, I want to ski!!!

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One of the ideas behind starting Ski Mad World was to tell the story of skiing, of the sport in general and my particular relationship with the sport. Gathering my hundreds of trip reports of my ski outings along with my other tidbits scattered around the internet.

I also wanted to relive the trips that never made it online, either the recent ones or those beautiful trips from many years ago, recreating the atmosphere of the times. Some of those nostalgia trips would involved trips from my youth.

I found out that my favorite ski mag had a great idea, The Ski Journal had a “first day ever essay contest”. The submissions are to be judged by Warren Miller himself. A great topic that falls right where I want to go with this nostalgia series, however I wasn’t expecting to go that far in the past.

So here goes…the first in the Ski Mad World’s nostalgia series:


Beaver Lake, circa 1968

I don’t clearly recall my first time on skis. I’m not even sure how old I was. As far as I can remember, skiing has always been part of my life. It’s like asking someone if they remember their first steps. Probably common in avid skiers’ kids.


My mother grew up in a large French Canadian family in the Laurentians within 20 miles from Gray Rocks Inn and Mont Tremblant Lodge, I was told that my grandfather groomed the runs at Tremblant with snowshoes in the 40s. My mom really got into skiing once she moved out and left for Montreal in 1953. I recall her telling stories about taking the ski trains as a young adult.

My father, of Irish descent, grew up in Montreal and as a kid skied on Mount Royal where he would take the tramway to get to the mountain and ski back down the street at the end of the day. Skiing would become a major part of his life, as he would drop everything to move to the hills as soon as snow would fall. He was an instructor for close to 15 years under the skier like Ernie McCulloch, Réal Charette and Bob Richardson. Skiing in the Laurentians at places like Gray Rocks, Villa Bellevue and Tremblant, eventually ending a at new ski area in the Eastern Townships.

It’s there, at Glen Mountain, where my parents would met. A few years later I was born and I would ski a few more years later.

Skiing recollection

My earliest recollection of skiing was at Beaver Lake at Mount Royal Park in Montreal. Judging from the pictures in the Family Album, I would have just under 3 year young. so it would have been the Winter of ‘68. This might not have been my first time, but it is definitely my earliest memory of it.

Stoked!!! On the ice rink outside the Beaver Lake Chalet

At that time we lived on Fort Street in downtown Montreal and only a couple blocks of the old famed Montreal Forum. Montreal has a rich history of skiing on it’s mountain an surrounding slopes within the island. At one point in time, there was even a ski jump on Côte-des-Neiges, but the jump was long gone when I was born as urbanization had spread since that time.

There were still a few ski hills with tows or t-bars within the city limits in the late sixties. Places like Beaver Lake, Cabrini Park, the park where the Stadium would be build for the Montreal Olympic Games in 1976, all of these were City of Montreal Parks which had lifts. There was also the more serious skiing at l’Université de Montréal ski slope on the other side of Mount Royal.

I don’t remember if my father was there at that time or how we got to the hill. I just know that my mother didn’t have a car back then and we often took the city bus to get around. Mount Royal Park was only one bus ride away up la Côte-des-Neiges (Hill of Snow – in fact the meaning of Côte here would be more like Coast, but I prefer Hill of Snow for this text). I recall going to Mount Royal throughout the seasons.

Slope and lift tower in the Summer.

Beaver Lake and the part of the slope in the Fall.

Beaver Lake was one of the most popular places in Mount Royal Park in the Winter time. There was skating and the open slope on the next to the lake was divided between the tobogganing and the skiers. There was hill was serviced by a t-bar.

There was one small slope with a T-bar on the southern edge of the Beaver Lake. Fifty-six vertical feet with one large slope. I knew that hill, as we tobogganed it a few times. I recall that there was always a good number of people either sliding or skiing. On this day, it was going to be different, I was going to ski.

From the chalet I needed to cross the snow-covered pond with my skis to reach the T-bar. The nature of the terrain was of course pretty limited, but ideal for beginners from the city. I vaguely remember going up the T-bar. The only thing I really remember was that my mom was holding me as I was staring down mostly at my skis between her skis and we were sliding further away from the T-bar, not far from the fence and toboggan side of the hill. My skis were red and her skis looked like some old Rossignol Stratos and she had laced ski boots, or were those mine? Somehow I knew this moment was important; I felt like a grown up, practicing a sport that my parents loved. Maybe I had a feeling on how much skiing would mean to my life.

Happy Pat on skis.

Pat with Eric bestfriend and future skiing buddy. This picture looks like it was taken in the Spring. There was a fourth picture with me on skis next to Eric, but I remember giving it to him when we were kids. You'll see Eric again in the seventies.


My ski day probably didn’t last that long, maybe a few runs, that is all I remember and my parents are no longer here. I remember bringing my oldest daughter here when she was 3, driving across the mountain from my favorite ski shop with her ski equipment while I was in Montreal for the Holidays. My mom had told me the T-bar was still active. So once at the parking lot, I decided to put my skis and my daughter’s skis and we skied down some really rough snow. When we got to where the lift was…nothing. I had to carry my daughter in my arms while climbing uphill. I mentioned this today, because when I asked my daughter if she remember her first day, she told me about this experience. It wasn’t her first day, but what she thought was her first day.

My mom loved the mountain; she loved walking and skiing here, especially cross-country skiing. She wanted it to be her final resting place. Last Spring we placed her ashes one mile away from that defunct T-bar and Beaver Lake. Although I’ve skied over forty years, over a thousand times at a hundred areas across the East, the West, the Alps and the Andes, I’ll always cherish these memories.

Dedicated to my mom who would have turned 75 today. Merci Maman.


Mount Royal and part of downtown Montreal in 2010. This aerial view includes Beaver Lake and the slope, Fort Street and my mom's final resting place. source: Bing

Beaver Lake and the slope in 2010. source: Bing


After a question from Rfarren on FirstTracksonline, I replied with a series of pictures and links about Beaver Lake and Mont Royal Park in general.

You can see my FTO reply here.

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