Skiing with toddlers, the best way to ruin your day

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My friend, neighbour and poker buddy Scott blows up all my theories about Prairie boys not being able to ski.

Scott is from Manitoba, and he can rip up any trail B.C. has to offer.

Manitoba!

Up until a few years ago, I was sure Manitoba was a government conspiracy.

Since I’d never met anyone from there—and I’d only drive into Manitoba so I could ask for directions on how to get out of Manitoba—it seemed obvious it was where Mounties hid alien skeletons and crashed UFOs.

In my defence, it’s what they taught us growing up in Saskatchewan.

But Scott has proven to me Saskatoon is no excuse for not skiing.

And, I get it, there are hundreds of you out there born on the flatlands who grew up skiing.

That wasn’t my family. I skied once between age nine and 19.

Fast-forward 30-odd years and now I’m in Kelowna, smack dab between two incredible ski areas less than an hour from my front door.

Not only that, my wife grew up in Kelowna.

Not only that, my kids are in school with other kids who ski.

I’m screwed!

OK, it’s not all grim. My roommates in college did a decent job teaching me.

While at Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in Calgary, we skied Sunshine and Norquay a little.

From there I moved to Thunder Bay, Ont., and skied Loch Lomond a couple of times.

No, it’s not the best place to ski.

But, for what it’s worth, people from Manitoba take ski vacations in Thunder Bay (allegedly).

My wife says I don’t look out of place on the slopes.

It doesn’t feel that way.

My knees hurt. My back hurts. My legs burn.

Something tells me it isn’t that stressful for experienced skiers.

Would I have skied if I’d never had kids? Likely not much.

Does my wife have a five-year plan to groom our children into Olympic-calibre Lil’ Rippers?

Yes.

Does that mean I’m on the same five-year plan?

Duh.

But it’s not without reservations.

I guess my hesitations come from the cost (I’m a writer, after all) and the worry I’m going to sail off a cliff (once my knees and back finally give out).

Plus, skiing with three little kids is hard.

Perhaps you spotted us last Saturday at Silver Star.

I was the guy huddled into the corner of the lunchroom covered by parkas and ski bags snoring like a PistenBully.

It might have looked like I’d spent a thrilling day on the slopes, except it was 8:35 a.m.

Those tiny skis might as well be iron girders to three-, five- and six-year-old little girls.

Then, they have to carry them wearing ski boots through a slushy, slippery parking lot.

It would’ve been more pathetic if it wasn’t so hilarious.

By about noon, however, I’d stopped laughing.

I’m not nearly confident enough to ski with them down the bunny hill. I can make it down OK, but entrusting me with the life of a toddler on skis is not a good idea.

With my wife skiing next to one child, and our oldest snow-plowing on her own, I decided to run alongside the third.

Of course, they find it hilarious to watch me ragdoll next to them, arms and legs spinning wildly as I shout, “Pizza! Pizza!”

They are taking to it fabulously and will be outskiing me in a matter of days next season.

It’s a good thing skiing is so damn healthy.

You would be hard-pressed to find a family activity that benefits mental and physical health quite like it.

Sure, skiing is a great sport to get your heart pumping and your legs strong.

Skiing through deep woods atop beautiful mountains will help your mental health, too.

But it goes beyond that.

Dr. Josef Niebauer, director of sports medicine at Paracelsus Medical University in Austria, told TIME magazine this year it can also help fight a raft of diseases.

His research has found skiing helps improve how our bodies use insulin and glucose while also lowering blood pressure.

Most strikingly, skiing (like rowing and cycling) helps fight heart disease and dementia.

“We saw positive effects on arterial stiffness, which is a sign of rejuvenating arteries,” Niebauer told TIME.

When you ski you burn fat and improve your balance. You improve your heart and your mind.

If it could reverse the wear and tear of raising a screaming toddler, I’d be hooked for life.