Skiing with Olympic champ Nancy Greene
Canadian Olympic ski champ Nancy Greene, left, and novice skier Tracy McLaughlin stop for a photo before hitting the slopes at Sun Peaks resort in B.C. (Courtesy Sun Peaks)
Sun Peaks, B.C -- If I ever become a good skier, I have to thank Olympic Ski Champion Nancy Greene for some very special of advice.
"Stop thinking so hard -- there is smoke is coming out of your ears!" she said to me on the snowy hills of Sun Peaks ski resort.
Skiing with Nancy isn't just a chance to ski with a world champion; it is an adventure.
During the week Nancy is a Canadian senator in Ottawa. Sun Peaks is her winter home, and as the resort's ski director she often skis with guests on weekends and holidays.
I probably did have smoke coming out of my ears because, as a snowboarder, I didn't know what to do with those long skis attached to my feet. But I knew it wouldn't be cool to ski with a world champion on a snowboard.
The folks at the Sun Peaks ski school recommended I rent a set of light-weight skis -- Rossingnol Temptations (in pretty colours).
With Nancy at my side, bubbling with enthusiasm and good humour, I feel brave. At 71, the amazingly fit grandmother could pass for 40.
So up, up, up we go to the top of the hill. Then bang, splat.
I wipe out instantly trying get off the lift sideways, as you would on a snowboard.
But now I'm stuck at the top, but want to slide sideways. How do I turn these things?
Nancy tells me a cool trick: Concentrate on the joint just behind the big toe. If you push ever-so-gently there, in the direction you want to go, you will turn in that direction.
"It's a magic spot," says Nancy of the metatarsal joint. Skiers "call it the G spot "¦ but don't write that."
Now all I want to do is look down. My eyes are glued to the foreign objects at the end of my legs, instead of the beautiful scenery that surrounds me. Again, it's Nancy to the rescue.
"Keep your head up," she says. "Pretend there are hundred dollar bills all over the hill, and you get to keep them."
That works, too.
Nancy is full of amazing, uncomplicated little tricks, and by the end of the day I am happily skiing down green and light-blue runs.
"Wanna do a black?" she quips as we stop at the top of an expert run.
Black-rated runs are for advanced skiers, and this one is more than steep. The 90-degree drop gives me the jitters looking down.
"Um, maybe next year," I tell her.
"Okay well, let's head to the village for a beer," she says.
If I could hang around with my new friend Nancy more often I bet I could be good at anything.
No matter your age or ability, skiing with Nancy Green is a must-do at Sun Peaks. Watch for the signage at the top of the Sunburst chairlift or check out the website. And remember, don't think too hard. Just have fun!
NEED TO KNOW
Skiing continues at Sun Peaks well into the spring. See sunpeaksresort.com.