Thursday, 20 February 2014

Honouring an Olympian

We met Doug Anakin two years ago as a mountain friend.  It did not take long to realise Doug's smile would reveal a history of accomplishments.

"It was 1964, Innsbruck Austria (50 years ago) where Doug, Vic Emery, John Emery & Peter Kirby were amateurs competing in the Bobsled competition. At that time, Canada didn't even have a bobsled or any training facilities. Doug and the boys drove from Montreal to Lake Placid to practise.  With no equipment available, Doug wore a plastic football helmet borrowed from the school gym where he worked as a teacher. 
Canada's bobsleigh team Doug Anakin, Vic Emery, John Emery and Peter Kirby, at the 1964 Innsbruck winter Olympics.
Canada’s bobsleigh team Doug Anakin, Vic Emery, John Emery and Peter Kirby, at the 1964 Innsbruck winter Olympics.
Vic Emery, the driver, Doug sat second in the sled as here was the shortest and appropriately named (Mickey Mouse), John sat third and Peter on brakes. 
Lining up at the top of the course, Doug, Vic, John & Peter start by crouching, sprinter-like and in an instant they are off, feet churning solidly on the ice, sled gliding into motion.
The first corner, the Start-kurve, is not a problem. Then come the high S-curves.  The team gets progressively faster and the corners get higher through the next 6 turns. building toward the renowned high speed Hexenkessel (The Witch's Cauldron), the toughest part of the course, which sends Doug and the boys whipping around its big banks with intense centrifugal force.  They come blistering out of the turn at more than 130 kmp.   Holding their momentum through the next 2 turns into Burlepautz curve, they are going too fast, coming out of the turn too high.  Suddenly, the banked ice built up for the corner plum runs out as the track transitions from a corner back to straightaway.  The sled drops down, smashing into the opposite wall and starts riding up alarmingly on the right side.  Both right side runners are a foot in the air....the sled is about to tip.  The 4 Canadians lean with all their weight, breathlessly hoping they don't totter over.  The sled stays upright...barely...& the team rides on, rounding the final 2 corners & crossing the finish line with the fasted time of the day.  
Canada’s four-men bobsleigh team, Doug Anakin, Vic Emery, John Emery and Peter Kirby (center), celebrates its gold medal performance at the 1964 Innsbruck winter Olympics.
They shocked the world by setting a course record and a Gold Medal for Canada." excerpt from The Columbia Valley Pioneer"

Myself, Doug Anakin (Olympic Gold Medallist), Bob
Doug kept involved with Bobsled at the 1966 World championships, and 1972 Olympics, Sapporo, Japan as a coach for the Canadian Luge team.
After much celebration, Doug went back to teaching phys. ed  and in 1990 he and his family moved to the Columbia Valley.  When you do find Doug, he is either skiing at Panorama, or golfing in the valley.
Always a smile on his face and full of energy.  Doug is ready to play outside.  A graceful skier by all means and pretty good at playing the ukulele, to our surprise when he serenaded us at our farewell party two years ago.  
Thank you Doug for making us smile.  We can't wait until the next powder day as we can easily find you in the bowls or at the T bar enjoying a cold beer.  We are very humbled to know such an incredible athlete and friend.   Cheers!
Mike presenting Doug's Portrait

The Mountain Friends honoured Doug in the Village of Panorama with a toast, complete with hilarious stories about his experiences and adventures in Innsbruck in 1964 and beyond.  It has been 50 years since his gold medal and Doug hasn't lost his desire or energy for the sport & life itself.  

Doug with Vic Emery & John Emery  

As for Bob and myself:  Bob is skiing every day, especially since 60 cm + snowfall last week as Panorama has been magically transformed into an epic mountain of stashes, deeps everywhere you happily turn your skis.  He comes home after exhausting his now repaired fine tuned body, collapses on the couch, complete with that goofy snow scaped smile on his face.  
As for me.....hobbles and grovels, I am knitting as if there is no tomorrow.  The thought of all that snow is painful too think about.  
On the bright side of life, Bob and I joined Wilhelm and Gee had a wonderful  dinner at Eagle Ranch golf club  to celebrate Valentine's Day (of course) as well as my follow up visit regarding my fractured ankle.  Yippee!  The Dr. is very please with my progress!  The plan is to have the cast....cast away 27 February then followed by physio.  Yes, I will be skiing.  Hopefully by the first week of March.   
Golden, B.C. and Whitewater Here we come.  We will be heading towards Golden in March to celebrate our good Friend's 50th birthday (Name to be announced complete with birthday photos in a future blog)
 I plan on being in that same deep fluffy powder stash I've been dreaming about, as well as hippie hunting over a cold beer in Nelson.  I will replace my walking cast with a ski boot....finally.

Myself, with Sue & Annie the Dog
I would like to thank my special friends here at Panorama for kidnapping me and graciously taking me out for Sushi and a bit of girl time..... what a great afternoon, complete with a couple hours of knitting time together.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Skiing above Cloud 9

Above the Clouds
Despite the lack of fresh powder, the glorious views above the clouds take precedence to any whining from us powder hounds.  The temperature in January have been almost Spring like with an inversion.  So it is up, up, and away from the dull gloomy filled valley to Sunny and "warmer" temperatures.

A look from the top of  the Champagne chair.

This day we are skiing the groomed with only a tease of fresh tracks.  As seasoned ski bums, we still can find the powder stash.  Panorama has many secret, or not so secret playgrounds anxiously waiting for the determined snow seeker.

Deb and I found just that.  Right on the left of Stumbocks!!!!  Deb made the plunge first!!!!  Then it was my turn.

Snow Creatures?

The creature on the right somewhat looks like a frozen Ewok from the movie "Star Wars"  We certainly are not angelic Snow Angels!

Just resting!
Ice trees Along the trail
Bob also found some fresh powder waiting for him in Founder's Ridge.  Another one of our favorite play grounds.  How he found a bottomless pit of fresh snow and airspace is beyond me.  And yes, I have the camera.  All tangled up, inverted... quite the invitation for a photo shoot.....h'mmmm....time to try, reluctantly help him out while trying to  hold the giggles inside.  I unclip my skis, only to find out just how much snow there is!  Quickly, I shrink in size as one leg sinks to my hip into a bottomless well of brush, air and snow.

Now both of us are stuck.  With a little help from our friends, like overstuffed infants, we try to upright ourselves and finally take our first steps out of  the family of pine trees.
Australia Day @ Panorama
Suspension bridge @ Dog Lake

It is now the end of January (a blink of an eye) Wow.  

Wednesday is hike day as we join the Invermere hiking club to Dog Lake, Kootenay National Park for a day of snowshoeing.  Again, mild temperatures, moderate snowshoe trails and wonderful people.
We meet at the Black Forest Restaurant to car pool mid morning.  (Valley Time....10.00 a.m.) A big group today.
Crossing Dog Lake 
 What can I say?  The scenery is magnificent.  But, very different in Northwestern Ontario.  The trees are majestically tall and thin, due to altitude and climate.  Tamaracks are native to the area.  Sort of pine trees that do loose their needles. In the spring, it is a burst of yellow as the new growth appears.

Dog Lake is approx. 1 hour up and in Kootenay National Park.  Snow shoeing may look easy, but try to walk on deep snow without them.  It doesn't take long into the trail for the blood to begin flowing, as our extremities quickly begin to thaw.

Our appetites  increase with each footstep.
 Lunch time! What a beautiful dining establishment!
Lunch time @ Dog Lake
Complete with seating and a view of the frozen lake.  A great day!
Rumour has it; Snow is coming tonite.  Time to rest.
We awake the next morning.  And, yes!  It's true.  Fresh snow.
Back on the mountain just Bob and myself.  Our time today.  No photo's....just fun.  But we were soooo tired, we could only ski half the day.
That should have been a sign.  Bob began to feel, well. not himself.  Long story short.  He developed the "Man Sized" chest cold.  He did manage to recover after 8 days of sleeping, resting, all without skiing.  Hard to to when the minds says GO and the body digs its heels in with a definite NO WAY!
Sunday, I went solo as Bob was still recovering.  Hind sight millionaires us humans, I should have stayed home as well...
Lindsay and I met at the base of the mountain as usual, realising that Millennium has been freshly groomed. So, after a warm up run on Outrider, we stop and look up the bottom of Millennium.  "Not in bad shape" So the decision was made.  Up the Sunbird chair, then the Champagne chair.  We reach the top of Millennium. We are committed on the first turn.  No way out now.  The grooming was horrendous with an assortment of death cookies scattered across the first steep pitch.  We made it successfully.  Next turn was full of tree tops from pine tree saplings.  Or as we call them Snow Snakes.  My right ski caught on to a sapling and never let go.  I heard a crack.  Immediately, I knew...  I tried to stand up, as both skis were still attached to my boots. (another bad sign)  The one ski should have released. I hesitantly asked Lindsay to call Ski Patrol to the rescue, as my right foot was unable to withstand any weight.
A few minutes later, James, my Knight in Red armour arrives with he mighty sled.  (riding in a patrol sled is not on my bucket list) After a quick assessment, James called for extra manpower, as Millennium is quite steep, especially this pitch. An interesting experience as James wraps me up in a blanket, tarp, strapped in like a Burrito.  Quite comfortable!  A different perspective of the mountain from ground level.
The personal history of this long and steep trail isn't too forgiving.  So, now I arrive in Emergency where after x rays, it is confirmed. I have a fractured ankle.  Not severe, but nevertheless, I won't be skiing for 4 weeks. Not a good way of beginning February.  But, being the ideal optimist.... it could be worse.  If timing is anything....the temperature has taken a nose dive as it has been -30 most days.  The chair lift at Panorama has been delayed most mornings until 11:30 a.m.  Too cold to ski and too cold to operate the chair.  The Sochi Olympics have begun, and I have (for some very strange reason) brought along extra knitting. Like I say, things could be drastically worse.  The Dr. is also very optimistic and feels I will be skiing the beginning of March.  Lets hope so.  Spring skiing is glorious!  Nelson and Whitewater are still in the cards.
I'll be back.....

 I will be a good girl and heal quickly.