Travelling to Ski

By: Magi Scallion

One of the greatest privileges of being a ski racer is the opportunity to travel across North America and around the world.  While I did not ever really consider this in my youth, I now appreciate the places I’ve seen; even if it just reinforces my love of my own “home” trails.

If all the races were on your home trails, you would probably healthy, happy and fast.  But you would miss out on some seriously amazing experiences!  Some of the nicest places I’ve skied, I probably would not have seen if it weren’t for ski racing.  In Canada alone, I got to go to Silver Star, Canmore and Kelowna as a young racer, which really influenced my choice to move to the mountains after University.  I’ve also enjoyed skiing in Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, and in my home province of Nova Scotia.  There are beautiful places to ski, with passionate skiers, in all of these provinces!

One of the biggest eye-openers for me on skiing culture was travelling to Europe to race, and subsequently to ski-vacation.  As a racer, I travelled to Norway and Austria; Austria is a place I keep going back to!  The ski and recreation culture in the Alpes resonates deeply with my chosen style of life.  I also had the pleasure of going to Italy, in the dolomites, last winter, which was also fantastic – great food, great skiing, and an amazing outdoor culture!

Whilst you travel, you also have the opportunity to meet lots of people who have similar passions to yourself.  It’s difficult to differentiate between the good feelings of skiing in a great place and the good feelings of skiing with people you love to be around.  Travel has provided me with the opportunity for both, sometimes both at once! 

When you’re heading to an important competition, travelling is something that you can easily worry about.  The chances of flight delays, cancellations, and weather can seriously affect your ability to get to the start line in the best shape possible (or at all).  The other considerations of jet lag, changes in altitude, and learning a new area and ski venue also play a big impact.  It’s definitely easier if the races just come to you sometimes!

Speaking from the perspective of a retired racer, “stay relaxed” is to easy for me to say, but I’ll give you a quick example of why it’s important.  I travelled to Italy for World Masters last winter, with a group of friends.  To me, it was primarily an opportunity to see Italy; to the person I shared a ski bag with, it was an opportunity to win medals!  When our ski bag got delayed for a couple days en route to Italy, I was disappointed but didn’t stress about it – we were plenty early for the races and I had my running shoes!  I took the 2-day delay as an opportunity to recover from jetlag, learn the town and do some running for workouts.  I was disappointed not to ski, but not stressed!

My friend was the opposite!  He was calling the airline twice a day, tracking the bag with frustratingly slow internet, and planning trips to the nearest cities to track it down.  Further, he was borrowing poorly fitting equipment to get out skiing, and just getting frustrated.  I can’t believe that he was able to sleep much.

When the bag was finally in our hands I was happy to get out skiing and had a great week of racing.  My bag-mate, however, ended up getting sick with the flu and a cold and had a rough week of racing.  Although he made the best of the situation, I knew he was disappointed and that cast a pall on his entire trip.  While not saying that he would not have been sick if the ski bag had arrived on time, I do think that that all the worry and stress put into finding the bag led him to get sick quicker and more severely.

So while travel can often seem an insurmountable hurdle of cost, broken equipment, and delays, it’s important to remember to enjoy the process because it will provide you with opportunities in the long run.

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