Skiing at Silver Star… my first time skiing in Vernon since 1977

Skiing at Silver Star… my first time skiing in Vernon since 1977


Me at Silver Star, 29 years after my last time skiing on the mountain – photo Jeff Chiba Stearns

Hey… I took a ski tour of Silver Star mountain.  And my guide was speaking with a Scots accent. I asked him if he was from Glasgow, and his mouth dropped in amazement. He asked how I knew that. I showed him my business card. And he exclaimed, “I've seen you interviewed on TV!”

And that's not all…. his last name is Todd – David Todd.
And there's more… he is a good friend for my girlfriend's parents who live here in Vernon.
Oh… It's a small world after all….

David and I have a great time skiing. He shows me the mountain, all its ins and outs, as well as how the resort and the accomodations have been developing. It's a mighty big change since I last skiied at Silverstar back in 1977.
We go down mostly Blue Square intermediate runs. It is my first day of the season, and his last day of the season, as Silver Star closes after Easter Weekend.

After the runs, we go to Long John's Pub in the Village, to meet his friends. It's a great time, talking about the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year dinner event that I organize in Vancouver. David says that his wife saw my tv interview and afterwards said, “If we were in Vancouver, I'd go to that!”

“Next January, we can have a Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner in Vernon,” I tell David Todd.

“Sorry I can't come,” he deadpans, “My wife and I don't hang out with Scots people.”

David and I bonded immediately after we met. We had a great day of skiing, exchanging jokes and stories.

“How did you know my last name was Todd, it only says David on my name tag,” he asks me.

“I read it on your ski pass, which was sticking out of your jacket. I'm a clever one. Clever like a fox,” I reply. He laughs and our conversation turns to the origins of the name Todd, which according to Baby Name books, means “Fox, in Old English.”

“How did you come by the name of Todd,” he asks.
“Och… I was named after a sea captain, who sailed between Hong Kong and Singapore. Captain Ronald Todd, was a friend of my auntie's husband in Hong Kong.”

“I've never knew that Todd was a Scottish name,” I say. “I've never seen a Todd tartan.”

“It's a branch of the Gordons,” David explains. “We wear the Gordon tartan.”


David Todd and Todd Wong, the first born in Glasgow and Canadian for past 30 years, the second born in Canada, and faux-Scots for the past 14 years – photo Deb Martin

In Long John's pub, David's friends enjoy the stories…. Joanne loves it. This exhuberant blonde woman exclaims that she may be more Asian than me, after I tell her that I am 5th generation Chinese-Canadian. It turns out that her grandmother was part Mongolian, and she was born with a Mongolian birth mark – which she still has.

“Great,” I say…. “You will have to come to the Vernon Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner and show everyone,” I joke.
Turns out that Joanne also has a Japanese Uncle, who married into this family of Finns, on her grandmother's side. We talk about the Japanese internment, and my involvement with the Save Kogawa House committee.

Don and Brett are their friends who are also sitting with us. Brett explains that he grew up on Vancouver Island, and had friends who were the Yamada's. We talk about how Coldstream Ranch was run by Japanese after the war.
These are great people, and I am glad I met them! They are truly wonderful ambassadors for Silver Star and Vernon.

Oh…. what was the skiing like?
Spring skiing at Silverstar in April. Sounds beautiful….
I am staying at a lakeside home on beautiful Kalamalka Lake, this weekend. just south of Vernon BC. There is a $50 ski pass for the entire Easter weekend. Sounds like a great deal….

Fresh snow fell over night, 8 cm! Sounds divine….
When I arrived on the peak at 10am, the sun was peaking through the clouds. I could see all the way to Kalamalka Lake. It was beautiful. I phoned my girlfriend who was still at the lakeside home. But the mountain temperature dropped to minus 11 degrees celsius last night freezing the snow pack. The midmountain has a bit of crud, and its a bit sticky at the bottom by the afternoon.

I was skiing Silverstar. One of the finest ski resorts in BC.

I had skiied here in the early 1970's. My parents would take me and my brother out of school for a week, to go to Vernon and ski Silverstar for a week. Lucky boys we were. We really learned how to ski well, as 10 to 12 year olds. Amazing what a week's worth of ski lessons can do.
When I was in grade six. I broke my leg – fractured left fibula. It was on my way to my Monday morning ski lesson. Thank goodness I had been able to ski on the Sunday. But the next 3 days were spent in the Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

Hospital miniature televisions were brand new back in 1972, and our family friend Kim Mah had the contracts for BC hospitals. Uncle Kim just happened to be in Vernon, and he gifted me with one. Wow!!!

The last time we went to Silverstar was in 1977. I was still 16, and my brother was 15. We burned up the ski hill with freestyle moves, on the moguls, and on the gentle slopes with ballet tricks. Wayne Wong was HOT STUFF back then. Freestyle (now called Free Riding) was still a pioneering sport. We could do tip rolls, cross-overs, jump-overs, 360 arials and spread eagles off bumps and jumps.
That was 29 years ago.

Today, Snowboards are where the action is. Skis went through the parabolic revolution. I have a pair of Rossignol Bandit's that I bought in 2002.  My boots are Salomon 1040's, which I bought in 2003 – but I didn't get a chance to use them until Dec 2004, because I severely sprained my ankle skating through the ice at Burnaby Lake.  NEVER go skating on a lake that is not at least 6 inches thick!

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