Skiing at Cypress Mountain with my new Japanese ski buddy


When
I first started skiing on Mt. Seymour in the late 1960's – the only
other Asians were the members of my own family, plus a few of our
family friends.  In the 1970's we started to see some of our class
mates… but we went to high school in North Vancouver so most of our
friends all skiied and there were very few Asians on the North Shore
back then.

Throughout the 1980's, more Japanese started to come to
Whistler/Blackcomb.  Then in the 1990's, Vancouver's Asian
population really started to boom, and the children of the recent
immigration waves began to grow up, and explore the ski slopes, no
longer held back by their parents who believed that “Skiing was
dangerous.”

Today I went skiing at Cypress Bowl, and I was amazed at the amount
of skiers of Asian ancestry – while most were Canadian, I
still heard Japanese and Mandarin languages.  My ski buddy for the
evening was Naoko, who arrived in Vancouver in April, to come
study at a Canadian College.  She was recruited onto the Gung
Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team, and paddled with us from July into
October.  Today was her first day of skiing in North
America.  She was excited and happy, having learned to snow board
at Nagano. 

Yes, she snowboarded – not skiied.  And she was confident,
usually taking off ahead of me.  Naoko is very resourceful and is
always surprising me.  Of all her friends who tried dragon boat
paddling, she was the one who kept coming back to paddle, travelling
with us to Seattle, Penticton and Fort Langley for races and
regattas.  She found a set of snowboard, bindings and boots on the
internet for sale from somebody who was leaving Vancouver and returning
to Japan.  She took the bus to North Vancouver to purchase them
and 3 hours later we were skiing at Cypress Bowl.  Amazing!

It was my first time ever skiing Cypress.  In the 60's, my
parents took my younger brother and me to Mt. Seymour, where we
learned on rope tows.  In the early 70's, we would travel to
Vernon BC, to ski Silver Star.  We moved to North Vancouver
in 1974 and for Christmas we recieved season's passes to Grouse Mtn, so
we could ski with all our school friends.  In the 80's, I started
skiing Whistler/Blackcomb, and occasionally Mt. Baker.  During the
90's I pretty well stopped skiing as I concentrated on my recovery from
cancer, divorce and academic studies.  In the new millenium, I got
passes for Grouse Mountain again with the Y2Play program.  My
father and I would ski a couple of runs, then sit in the chalet with a
meal and a beer, looking over the incredible view below us.

So more than 25 years after Cypress first opened for downhill
skiing, I finally tried it.  And it was wonderful.  The snow
was good, despite some icy patches and the occasional rocks.  The
snow depth was only 100 cm at the base and 160 cm at mid station. 
But the snow was crisp and light.  And the view from the top of
the Sky Chair was incredible.  We caught some of the sunset glow,
settling down on English Bay to our left, and the Howe Sound to our
right.  We could see the lights of Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast,
Nanaimo and Ladysmith on Vancouver Island.

And just before getting on the last chair for our last run, I hear a
voice call my name.  It is Pat Coventon.  My musician friend
who played our Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner shows from 2000 to
2003.  Pat has a Sunday evening ski pass, so we plan to do some
more skiing together now.  He is amazed at the recent growth in
Gung Haggis Fat Choy, and I immediately invite him to come play
keyboards with us as he has been such a part of its growth, providing
the first sound systems we had from 2000 to 2003.  Pat also
accompanied me on accordion when I read a poem on CBC Radio's
Richardson's Roundup in 2002 – my first GHFC radio interview.  It
was great to see Patty again!

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