An Eastbournian Abroad with Ashley McMillan: All change in May

So what did May bring us? Even more snow – although it is now abating at last, the end of the ski season this last weekend, the re-opening of the Whistler gondola and the infamous Peak to Peak experience… amongst other things.

This last weekend also saw the ‘Crud to Mud’, where skiers and boarders speed down Whistler mountain to the mid station point, abandon their ski and board bindings and jump onto their downhill bikes to slip, slide and rip down the biking trails – hopefully in one piece, in body if not necessarily with machine.

Partially in lieu of the sheer volume of snow still atop of Whistler mountain, preventing any hiking at this very early stage of our latest visitor season, there has been a tube park opened up on top for everyone to play in. Kids, big and small, jump in big inner tubes and ride the snow cut slides for all their worth. Well worth the effort if you ask me!

Otherwise, for now, the village is quiet. We are very much in our ‘off season’, although much of that will change yet again this coming weekend as Whistler hosts its inaugural half marathon, pulling in over 800 entrants – in turn bringing along their families and friends in some cases. This will provide some much needed occupancy to hotel beds and put bums on seats in the local restaurants and bars, etc. This is an event that is planned to grow and grow each year and the suggestions are that this is already proving a highly attractive and successful event. I for one am looking forward to a race on home soil for once. Nice to not have to travel or deal with jet lag or other excuses. Runners better be well trained though as this is not going to be a fast course, and naturally, being in Whistler, there are a few hills! Just a few – sorry guys!

So as Whistler prepares to host this race and all the months of hard work and planning come to fruition, the dozens of ‘port-a-loos’ are installed (oh these are a real joy – especially as the race start time draws closer and closer), the dozens and dozens of generous volunteers amass around the event site awaiting their specific job requirements; all the rest of us taking part is hope that they’ve done enough in their training. Tough if not really at this stage, but hey!

Another ‘event’ going off everywhere around these parts is the enthusiastic support of the Vancouver Canucks ice hockey team. They have reached the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in 17 years and have a real chance of lifting this elusive trophy for the first time. As this is being written, they have just beaten the Boston Bruins 1-0 to go one up in the series – As with all the playoff’s including the finals, each round is played on the best of 7 games basis. So just three more wins will see the Canucks lift the immortal cup. The streets and city of Vancouver has reportedly erupted. Upon checking my twitter account, every other comment is about this game. There were impromptu parties and celebrations around many a bar and restaurant. The support even in Whistler is pretty impressive too. Just wait until we’re a few more games into this final series. Not sure if these guys poor hearts can take the pressure, but they’ll sure enjoy all the highs along the way.

One thing’s for sure, those store owners and managers carrying and supplying the Canucks ice hockey jerseys are cashing in and this unprecedented run of success that doesn’t seem to know when to call it a day, is keeping the tills busy. Good for the economy? It’s a similar feel to what the Olympics provided – a real ‘shot in the arm’. Everyone has that feel good factor and it’s infectious. It’s like England’s long run in the Euro 96 campaign, or winning the Ashes series or even the rugby world cup. Good for everyone, good for the economy, good for morale and good in this case for the franchises!

So as we all wait with baited breath for the second Stanley cup game, hope that no bear decides to come out and lounge in anyone’s path as we all pound our way around the beautiful Whistler valley and pray that the predicted race day temperatures don’t reach the 25 Celsius until long after we’ve all finished, I’ll leave you with this thought…..

…As we all look forward to what June holds for us, as spring pushes us toward summer, as the planned events that you may be a part of or are planning draw near and we want to get certain events over and done with or simply wish to see the ‘back of’ the lousy weekend or work week…are we simply wishing our lives away? Life is short enough as it is without wishing it to fly by even faster wouldn’t you agree?