Saturday, February 3, 2018

Ski Strategery

Longtime followers of the Semi-Spew will know that I like to give talks at universities near ski areas in wintertime.  This time, I gave a talk at the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary on what we can learn from Afghanistan.  And I learned much both from those who attended and from someone who couldn't make it to the talk but did attend the dinner (my first real convo with someone inside the Harper government!)

More importantly, I got to ski at Lake Louise.   My previous talk here about four years ago led to a different ski area--Sunshine.  I think I prefer Lake Louise, although I couldn't see much of it because it was snowing both days.  Indeed, both days, but especially the first, made for some challenging skiing since I could not see well at various times.

Given that I was talking about lessons learned when Canada was under much pressure in Afghanistan, what did I learn during two hard skiing days?
  • The Skier's dilemma (at least for me): Clear skies with great views OR poor views but fresh snow.
  • Learning to ski in the mountains (hills) of Pennsylvania trained me to ski on ice, not fresh snow.  I am not good on plentiful fresh snow, especially when the carving of predecessors turns a blue cruiser into a mogul field
  • I still skate like an American, as there were some flat parts and I tend to skate them poorly.
  • Some ski run names are very apt.  I finished Marmot (a rodent) run right before lunch.  While at lunch, a marmot came up to the lodge.  Glad I didn't ski Wolverine today.
  • That being single is a big advantage (although I miss my favorite skiing partner--Intern Spew), even though the lift lines were never very long--non-existent yesterday and fairly quick today.
  • More importantly, I learned being in a gondola with five bros can be fun, as they were amusing and one of them was carrying skiing juice.  That would be, in this case, jaegermeister, and yes, he was a German skiing with four North Americans.  
  • I can be too slow with a camera--one chair lift goes past a tree festooned with bras of all kinds.  It seemed photo-worthy, but each day I was on that lift once, so I didn't react fast enough either day. Rats.
  • I learned that the ski bums of Canada tend to be from Australia or New Zealand with a few Brits mixed in.  I remember this from my last trip, but I had forgotten.  
  • Banff is a pretty sweet place.  Sure, it has lots of touristy stuff, but lots of restaurants to choose from, amazing views, apparently bountiful public spaces/services, and nice folks.
  • I now get why folks who own Jeep Wranglers don't clear snow off of them as well as I can off of my car.  I had little choice at the airport, and this brand new Jeep is an interesting drive.  
I am very lucky that I can do this, that my teaching schedule this term (M/W) gives me the chance to take off just when the slopes are getting sweet.  It will probably be the only skiing I do this year, as the places closer to home have been cycling between rain/snow/melting/freezing and I am too old to mess with ice.

Oh, and one of the cool things about being on the slopes for two days is I am mostly out of the loop about whatever Trump is doing and how incredibly dumb the Nunes memo is.  Ok, I caught some of the tweets of along these lines:

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