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Opinion: Teaching a Squamish old dog new tricks

'When you do land on your backside, somewhere buried in that snow is a metaphor about learning to pick yourself back up again.'
Chief reporter Andrew Hughes committed to teaching himself a new skill this year: snowboarding.

Before becoming a journalist, I wore many different hats and worked a variety of jobs. Many of them included working with children and teenagers, teaching them new skills.

There’s something special about watching someone learn a new skill, seeing the joy on their face. I’m not a parent, but I imagine when it comes to raising children, this must be one of its greatest joys.

But there’s something pretty special about learning something new when you’re older, too.

I’ve always been a pretty frugal person. My dad once caught me with several hundred dollars buried in my sock drawer for safekeeping after hoarding $5 here and there from birthdays and such. He would later take me to a bank, explaining how they worked, though I was still a bit skeptical.

When I got a full-time job at The Squamish Chief, I made a promise to myself that, with the prospect of a steady paycheque, I would really try to learn something new.

And that something, this time around, was snowboarding.

I’d snowboarded a handful of times before, thanks to the occasional discounted pass. But I knew Whistler Blackcomb’s reputation in the snow-sport world and wanted to see what all the fuss was about, so I purchased a season pass and off I went.

Like any snowboarder, I had an immediate disdain for two things: moguls and getting off the chairlift. But as I clocked in more hours on the hill (and, of course, hours doing nothing at the lodge), things got smoother. 

Suddenly I was waking up earlier on weekends than I was on weekdays, as the northbound red snake became my go-to church on any given Sunday. Moguls even became fun — although getting off the chairlift never quite did.

On the last day of the ski season, when the snow was wet and dirty, I gleefully yipped and yelped my way down and down again, soaking in as many laps as possible. If you were there, I’m sorry you had to hear that. 

Not really though; it was awesome.

I assuredly never looked cool while riding. In fact, I’m sure I looked rather dorky and silly. But that, to me, was a main part of the joy. 

To not have any expectations at all, to challenge myself, to bring out my inner kid, and to be able to laugh at myself with friends, those were the things that made the experience meaningful. 

It was a great reminder that when the world sucks and feels so complex, there’s a certain triumphant simplicity to sliding down a hill upright rather than on your backside. 

And when you do land on your backside, somewhere buried in that snow is a metaphor about learning to pick yourself back up again.

I’ll surely be seein’ ya next season.

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