Montana has always been a second home to me. When I turned 9, my parents asked me what I wanted to do for my golden birthday (9 on February 9th of 1999). I, of course, had only one thing in mind, to go skiing in Whitefish. Every year we make it down here, either to ski in the winter or golf in the summer. Before departing on my big adventure, I wanted to make it down to our neighbours to the south, but since we came down during the long weekend, we knew the ski hill was going to be packed. There are two options for something to do in Whitefish at this time of year, 1. skiing and 2. shopping. I know there are other winter activities which can be done, but this is the norm for most Canadians who come down here. Since we had already spent one day shopping, and the hill was too busy to spend another day skiing, we decided to do something different, cross country skiing.
The first time I went cross country skiing was in Manitoba on a leadership retreat. It was cold, the snow was deep, but it was fun. I quickly learned how hard cross country skiing was, and every time we had to go downhill, I lost faith in the thin skis beneath my boots and bailed in the snow. This time around, I was confident, and willing to prove myself as a cross country athlete to the members of my family who tend to call me “Cautious Kyla” whenever we go skiing.
After sorting out boots and shamefully admitting our weight to the lady picking out our skis, we waited outside the Nordic Ski Shop and practiced cross country skiing without the skis.
“It’s good to see you all know how to walk with poles.” the lady joked when she came out with our skis. Not at all embarrassed, we clipped our boots into our skis and were off. I wish I would’ve asked the name of the lady helping us. She was kind, funny, and made absolutely sure we knew how to hold the poles properly.
Now, when I think of cross country skiing, I picture skiing through the trees, enjoying the beautiful, winter surroundings. My family had another idea in mind. Very early on, I realized it wasn’t going to be like my last time, it was going to be a competition. All I wanted to do was improve my technique a little, but my family wanted to see how fast they could go. I think this had to do with the fact we had just watched Olympic cross country skiing. I don’t know what it is about the Olympics that brings out the athlete in all of us.
No matter how fast we thought we were going, our speed could not compare to the regular cross country skiers who lapped us a couple times. With the amount of uphills on this course, our amateur skills were displayed as we wobbled up like penguins, slowing us down significantly.
If I was scared of the little downhills I experienced while skiing in Manitoba, you can imagine my fear with the downhills on this golf course. I never did fall, but felt a little awkward having to resort to the pizza snow plow to slow myself down.
Eventually we made it to the view of Whitefish lake where Taryn and I dubbed my dad as a photographer, and tried our best to photo bomb cute couple shots of my brother and his girlfriend.
Montana has just as unpredictable weather as Alberta because at one moment there would be blowing snow, and the next the sun would come out, forcing us to sweat underneath our heavy jackets and warm toques. After only an hour and a half of ski rental, we decided to head back in due to the hot sun and Jono’s useless skis. Back at the shop, we were charmed by the new Nordic Ski Shop greeter.
Since my mom and Chelsey didn’t go with us, they took my dad’s vehicle downtown Whitefish to shop. This was fine considering we had Jono’s vehicle in case we finished early. However, as soon as we took off our skis and returned our equipment to the lady at the shop, we were informed by Jono that he had given his keys to my mom, thinking they would take his vehicle instead.
We had two options. 1. Wait at the course for a couple hours, hoping mom would realize she had Jono’s keys and we had no way of going anywhere or 2. walk to downtown and find them by way of foot. Typical of North American culture, we chose the latter due to our impatience. Taking a piece of gum and liquorice to ration, we left them a note on the back window in case they came back, and made our way to where we believed they were.
Somehow my family always falls in this type of situation while we are in the States. You don’t realize how much you depend on your phone until you absolutely need to get in touch. It was a great way of getting exercise in that day since we skied a few miles and then walked a couple more. Mom found us on the road when she decided it was best to go back to the course early, but we were already close to downtown at that point, so we walked to rest of the way.
One thing we learned on our unexpected walk was snow removal is not as enforced in Whitefish as it is in bigger city centres, like Calgary. For the entire walk the sidewalk was covered in mounds of dirty snow, making it less of a leisurely stroll and more of a strenuous hike. But we’ve been in situations like this before, so we made up a clever rap, and kept walking. Thank goodness for the warm weather and our conclusion that sidewalks suck anyways.