I started skiing at the Edmonton Ski Club when I was 14. I had started later than a couple of my friends, because I was playing hockey. We would grab the bus after school with our skis and head to the club for the evening. I would say we went three or four times a week, including the weekends.
We would also take the bus to Jasper and Banff on some weekends, before we could even drive. It seems weird now, that we were able to rent rooms at the age of 15 or 16, but that was the ’70’s. The summer we turned 16 was big, because of course, we all got our licences and now had a lot more freedom. It also meant we could apply to the ski patrol and get to ski for free! To join the Canadian Ski Patrol now you have to be 18-years old, but back then, 16-years old was the starting age.
I turned 16 in July and so that fall I signed up and went into first aid training. You also had to prove you were a good enough skier, which was the last part of the program. The training included how to ski with the stretcher, which wasn’t usually needed at Edmonton Ski Club, but if you went to other hills, including the mountains, you had to know how to use it.
It was a proud day when my buddy Darcy and I got our brown ski patrol jackets (I think they’re red now) and got assigned to our first patrols. We felt like real big shots at the hill.
I only remember having to deal with one broken leg during my time as a ski patrol, mostly it was kids crying because they had fallen down. But I skied a lot more because it was free and I think that improved my skiing by quite a bit. I spent two years as a patrol and have great memories of the Edmonton Ski Club because of it.
Mark Connolly is the host of Edmonton AM, CBC radio’s morning show. Mark grew up in Edmonton, and spent 22-years as a sportscaster with CBC radio and television. Mark and his wife Alyson have two boys, Patrick and Jack.
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