An Eastbournian Abroad with Ashley McMillan: A week of racing on them hills as snow storms welcome everyone!

Big week expected in Whistler as we see a mix of disabled provincial championships and national ski championships. Many competing in these are looking for promotion onto the national ski teams, some just trying to compete and others just for a downright challenge. Make no mistake though, although these variety of competitions are open to a broad spectrum of abilities, the competition will be fierce and of an extremely high level. Great opportunity to get out and watch some very talented athletes.

The days are also getting longer here as the weeks tick by (funny that what with ‘daylight savings and all!). The lifts and gondolas are open later, meaning longer skiing hours, more man hours for Whistler Blackcomb and more associated costs. Unfortunately, of late, this hasn’t shown itself as longer and longer sunnier days. Winter still well and truly has its grip on our part of the world and although the temperatures may be warming slightly, the snow just continues to pound down on the resort. In fact, as I write this, the snow base is fast approaching 4 meters – virtually unheard of around most of the world’s resorts! I read a great ‘Tweet’ this week where someone had posted that “snow levels were verging on the ridiculous – skiers legs were so tired now that they were sleeping on their ski poles in the lift lines”- Nice!

Even celebs have been known to try their hand on our overflowing slopes this season. A few weeks back, Mr Simon Pegg from ‘Shaun of the Dead’ fame was up here on his snowboard and sampling some of our eateries. This week I’ve been told that a certain Mr Owen Wilson was sharing a chair lift (somewhat ungainly and awkwardly as he and his skis were incohesively strewn across the seat – this comment coming from a boarder of course!).

Now, for the flip side of all the snow we receive here, there are other factors that hit home. For example; heavy snowfalls and it becomes difficult for mountain safety to get the alpine open together with all its lifts. The risks of avalanches are far greater and this all requires significantly higher workloads and risks to control and manage. Conversely, what often happens as in this last week for example; we’ve had a huge snow storm front nestled in the local mountain ranges. Nearly 2 meters has been ceremoniously dumped all over the hills as far as the eye can see. Unfortunately, much of the high alpine has not been open to the public for several days, but as we’re approaching a promised break in the storm, everyone is expectant and hopeful that these previously ‘closed’ areas will be re-opened. Of course, the expectancy is that there should be huge pockets of almost wait deep powder and those in the know are literally salivating at the prospect of hitting it!

So Paddy’s day it is then guys! Slaine! Raise a glass for us all if you’d be so kind. We may presently be some 7 hours behind everyone back in the UK, but I’m certain that many here will be doing their darndest to catch up.

Now without wanting to regurgitate much that we’ve all read, heard and seen beamed across our screens and various press publications, there has been plenty to make us all take a step back and appreciate all that we have. The world can appear to be a terrible place at times and all too much suffering is endured by too many. Everyone’s thoughts and prayers are with those across Japan, New Zealand and those struggling at the hands of dictatorships and regimes no longer desired.

Hopefully, we can all take a little perspective from all of the world’s events and remember to celebrate what you have. A free, modern and uncensored society is one that many of us take for granted. Try and imagine a world just the opposite!

Life can be good…in fact, Life can be great! We’re surrounded by beauty and there’s so much environment that surrounds us that we need to be respectful of. For this writer, right now I can’t think of a more stunning, serene, yet powerful environment than the one I currently call home. Nature is the beast and it will always prevail. So embrace all that is good and around us and… oh yeah, raise another glass on St. Patrick’s Day and just enjoy the moment.