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Ski for Life

Dan Mahony

In 1998 as I faced my last few weeks of a 33 year career as a teacher, principal and coach, little did I realize that, as I closed one chapter of a fulfilling vocation, I was about to open another that would bring as much satisfaction and exhilaration.

Having been introduced to the sport on my fortieth birthday, when my family presented me with the gift of a pair of skis, I had always been a devotee of the traditional competitive sports, hockey, basketball, baseball, and tennis, both as player and coach and I gave little thought to this more sedate, almost contemplative pastime, where one communes with snow and nature, and really offers no opponent to contest with, other than one’s own boundaries of physical exertion. From my first outing, I was almost mystified by the sheer enjoyment of gliding along a smooth surface, with no ball to chase or pass to complete.ski for life

During my final six years in education, having undergone bypass surgery after a heart attack in 1992 and a further angioplasty in my 1998, I had developed an increasing passion for skiing and had enjoyed passing along my limited knowledge of this challenging and invigorating activity to the grade four youngsters I was teaching. At the school we had invested in some inexpensive, hand-me-down equipment and I took various groups of youngsters out for quick runs at noon hours, after school, and on a few Saturday sessions. If they weren’t hooked on it, and most were, I certainly was. During that period, my wife Joan and I, completely self-taught skiers, took our body of skills, or lack thereof, to a variety of Ontario locations like Algonquin and Arrowhead Parks, Mansfield, Wasaga Beach. We flopped or hopped along either trackset trails or totally ungroomed terrain, hardly presenting a smooth-stroking image of the classic cross-country skier, but thoroughly enjoying ourselves and assuming that we were becoming quite adept at the sport.

It wasn’t until we attended a few seminars in Nordic skiing that we compared our totally flat strides, and straight up posture to others who had received instruction, that we realized our technique left much to be desired.

It wasn’t just a style thing, as we became aware that simple things like achieving a little weight shift and placing our poles at the correct angle before thrusting them into the snow, could really enhance both our ability to go some distance, and our satisfaction of the on-snow experience. I then decided to take the plunge of attempting to become certified as an instructor with CANSI (Canadian Association of Nordic Ski Instructors. It opened up a whole new realm of skill development and I must admit that I was not an ideal student for the poor CANSI instructors who did their best to hone my skills to an acceptable level. But again I had to admit, skiing the CANSI way has broadened my knowledge of technique, increased my ability and value as an instructor and most importantly, increased by enjoyment of even a brief, personal ski outing by about 100 per cent.

As of this current season, Ski For Life, our instructional service which we began on a modest scale in 1998, has blossomed into an avocation of labour and love. While not reaping great financial rewards, we certainly derive satisfaction that money can’t buy by imparting our knowledge and passion for the sport to all comers of all ages It has opened a whole new dimension of interaction with people we never would have met had we eased gracefully into retirement.

Just two years ago we teamed up with Carol Wagg and Mike Caslin of Wit’s End B&B near Gravenhurst, to add Ski For Life North to our offerings, and the response from Toronto area folks, looking for stimulating week-end outings has been tremendous. They have flocked to this rustic, backwoods location to savour both the joys of shussing across pristine snow and of Carol’s tempting culinary treats.

Our clients vary from those who have never set a ski-clad foot onto snow to those who have done it for years, and like the two of us never realized that a little refinement of technique can open up a whole new level of enjoyment. If interested in experiencing a Ski For Life outing call us at 519-842-4652 or email skiforlife@execulink.com.

Setting up and modifying our own website, www.skiforlife.net was another new and mind-broadening experience that never would have come our way without cross-country skiing, our new way of life!

Cross-country Skiing - Way of Life
an article by Dan Mahony, CANSI qualified instructor

Cross Country Ski Instruction - All equipment provided

Welcome to Cross Country Ski Season 2008 - 2009

Cross country skiing is a great activity for ALL ages - families, singles, couples, seniors.

Lessons will be offered winter weekends and weekdays at a variety of locations close to the GTA, the K-W area, Central Ontario, and Arrowhead Park, Huntsville.

Lessons are suitable for ages 9 and up and geared to beginners, and those looking to improve skills and confidence on a variety of terrain including hills.

Make it a day trip or a "Stay and Ski" getaway.

Come join us on the trail!

Contact us at 519-842-4652 or skiforlife@execulink.com





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