Sports for Life: Never say Never

Posted by martin.parnell |
Sports for Life: Never say Never

Over the years, I’ve played many sports, badly. As a lad in England, I was a huggable child. In today’s politically correct environment I would be known as fat. At school I was usually picked last for the soccer, rugby and cricket teams. This was pretty disappointing. However, it was offset by my parent’s love of racket sports. In the evenings and at weekends we’d play tennis, badminton and table tennis. The key wasn’t how good you were but playing for the love of the game.

I immigrated to Canada at the age of 21 and took a job at the Sullivan mine in Kimberley, B.C. This town is known for two things, Happy Hans, the Bavarian yodeler and skiing. At a ski swap I picked up a set of Lange racing skis, Nordica boots and poles and headed up the mountain. Next on the list was hockey. In England I had only skated once so, in my first season in the Kimberley recreation league, I looked like a week old banana with bruises on my hips, knees and elbows.

At 25 I moved to Yellowknife, the land of ice and snow. New sports included cross country skiing, curling and golf. Yes, golf. The fairways were sand and the greens were oiled sand. I even played snow golf with hockey sticks and an orange tennis ball. Over the intervening years, other sports included squash, snow shoeing, and fencing. At the age of 48 I entered my first 5km race and sprint triathlon, at 56, lacrosse and 58 it was Quidditch.

Now it’s time to try sport number 53, ski mountaineering (skimo). My friend Glenda suggested I check out an event call the Vert180. I didn’t have a clue what skimo was but a quick Google search explained that it’s something like running up hill with skis on then skiing down. Last Saturday, I had a clinic with Kylee Toth Ohler, one of Canada’s top skimo racers. For two hours, Kylee showed me how to attach skins to the skis, adjust the bindings for climbing up hill and skiing down and strapping the skis to the backpack for the “March of Death” section of the race.

The Vert180 is taking place at Canadian Olympic Park (COP) on Saturday December 5th from 6pm to 9pm. The objective of the race is to complete as many loops up and down the mountain as you can, in 3hours (180 mins). I think there’s going to be a few aches and pains the following morning.

So what’s next? Well, plans are under way to tackle sport number 54, pickle ball. Stay tuned.

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