I can't believe I have been a member of the Canadian Ski Instructors Alliance for fifteen years already. A lot of innovation has happened in the sport during that time but it pales in comparison to the amount of change the sport has seen since the beginning of the CSIA. Recently I attended the Canadian Ski Instructors Alliance fall convention gala dinner. This year we celebrated the 75th anniversary of our organization. We watched a fantastic video presentation showing the evolution of our organization through the decades.
In the 1930's skiers had to hike up for every run. There were no lifts or groomers. The first thing I noticed was the massive grins on their faces. I guess the act of sliding down a mountain has always been magical regardless the effort involved. Skis were wooden with metal binding that didn't release and the boots were leather. We are so spoilt now with high speed chairlifts, Gortex and shaped skis it's hard to conceive of what skiing was like in those early days. Watching the footage it was clear those pioneers had found the stoke in a far more raw interaction with the mountain than most of us are used to today.
I was also so impressed by the technical proficiency of CSIA members in the 70's and 80's. back then skis were long, heavy and straight. To pivot required the strength of tree trunk sized thighs. I watched totally slack jawed as my predecessors jump turned entire faces with apparent ease. I can assure you that ain't easy. I'm currently up to 34 jump turns in a single pitch and by the end of that I'm winded to the point of not being able to talk.
Perhaps the coolest thing about that video was how unchanged the Canadian Rockies are these past 75 years. Much of the footage was shot right here at Sunshine Village and Lake Louise. Aside from a few new chairlifts and the odd building the landscape is the same. In that sense it was so apparent how the mountains have witnessed a vastly incomprehensible stretch of time and we are but a brief flicker in their midst.
With tremendous respect and a little reverie I watched those innovators of my sport totally shredding my home hill with a disposition that was part mad scientist part test pilot. Now when I ski those same trails I can feel their wild exploratory spirit lingering in the rocks and trees. I feel a part of a proud heritage, one of the oldest ski instructor associations in the world. In that great tradition my colleagues and I go out every day to see if we can learn what is possible on skis.