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The Review

Rotary Ski Days

Posted On: Friday, February 9, 2018

Nori Szabó, Thornbury-Clarksburg Rotary's International Youth Exchange student from Hungary, was joined by 12 of her colleagues on Sunday evening when all the RYE students in the district were brought to Ravenna to begin their annual Ski Days Conference. Many had traveled through white out conditions to get to the gathering. Their drivers were the half dozen volunteer "Red Coats"  - District Youth Exchange Officers - who run the RYE program. As usual, there was great excitement at being together and anticipation for two days of skiing.

Rotary Ski Days

In this its 38th year, the conference had students from Finland, Denmark, Peru, Thailand, Germany, South Korea, Bolivia, Brazil, Austria, Hungary, Japan, Belgium and Chile. They missed only Bruno Zarate from Argentina, who was ill with the flu.

For many of the students, this would be their first skiing experience. So care was taken to explain some of the tips experienced skiers take for granted. Like, don't wear skinny jeans that can't be pulled up above the ski boots and make sure your socks are pulled up so there are no wrinkles inside the ski boot.  Care was also taken to explain the graduated learning process they would experience at Blue Mountain Resort's Ski School and to reassure the beginners that they would be safe at all times.

T-C Rotary calls on many friends and former Rotarians in the area to help with this event. Experienced skiers make time to be available to assist the beginners on the ski hill as they graduate from one level of difficulty to another. And all are hosted by billeting families while they are visiting The Blue Mountains.

Monday Skiing

Monday's skiing benefited from all the fresh snow received the day before and became one of those special days - sunny and bright, little wind and not too cold. A picture perfect setting in which to have a "life experience" adventure.

Students Preparing to Ski

Among the beginner skiers was T-C Rotarian Hamid Hussein, who had come to Thornbury as a refugee with his family from Syria in 2016. Now managing three Tim Horton's outlets in the area, this was his first opportunity to experience some winter fun.

Rotarian Hamid with Committee Chair Bruce Paterson

Under the guidance of Blue Mountain's Ski School, the beginners were introduced to their skis, the basics like "pizzas" and "French fries"  and coached down their first small slope before transferring to the magic carpet and the beginners' hill.

The beginners at the beginning

It became quickly evident that several could graduate to the Big Baby chair lift and by end of day, everyone had managed at least one run down that much larger hill. Even "W" from Thailand, who had experienced difficulty turning - he was good one way but not the other - managed one run.

Monday Dinner Meeting

After a full day on the hill, the students returned to the Ravenna Hall and joined T-C Rotarians, a large contingent from the Meaford Rotary Club, the Red Coats and the many friends of Rotary who were either hosting students or helping on the ski hill for an evening of good food and fun. Dinner was catered by T-C Rotarian Jean Lewis Knight and the students contributed the thirty questions that comprised the Trivia Quiz that followed. Having two or three students at each table made for a very engaging evening and certainly added zip to the g

Tuesday Skiing

Round two of the Ski Days adventure saw everyone graduate from the magic carpet and enjoy the bigger hills. With the help of Tom from the Ski School, the last few beginners were reminded of what they had learned the day before and then taken to the top of Big Baby where he coached them to control their speed by making big turns and really big turns when the terrain steepened. Yes there were a few spills but, once the students realized they really could get down that hill, they were off on their own. 

By mid day it was snowing very heavily. As the skiers returned to South Base Lodge for lunch, they all looked as if they had been standing under a snow gun. And Bolivian Juan Martinez Rivera was ready to achieve his goal: to ski a black diamond run! This, after learning to ski on Monday!

T-C Rotary and the Ski Days Committee are very grateful to everyone who helped make this event such a success. In particular, Peter Zahradnik, Karen James, Tom and Lee Normet, Grant and June MacPherson and Kenton Acton who all gave their time to help on the hill, provided invaluable assistance to the club's skiers. Thanks are also due to Janine Lachey, Deb Crosskill and Jane and John Gyles who all hosted one or more of the visiting students. Ski Days would not have been possible without their generous support.




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