A warm Phoenix welcome

In Focus column by Andrew Tripp, Jan. 28 Boundary Creek Times.

One of the more enjoyable aspects of my job as a reporter is the fact that it has led me to explore the Boundary and its people more than I ever did prior to the Times becoming a big part of my life.

On Sunday, for instance, I was drawn for the first time to the Phoenix Ski Hill, in search of a front page photo of the Nancy Greene Dual Slalom Race for kids aged 4-13. This winter, thus far at least, has been uncharacteristically overcast or foggy in the Boundary, unlike most winters which usually bring weeks on end of clear blue skies, crisp winter air and superb winter sport conditions.

On Sunday, however, I arrived on a mountain bathed in sunlight, with the impressive backdrop of the Monashees rising up above a beautiful little aprés-ski chalet. It’s sun-drenched deck was hopping, the hot drinks flowing and the barbecue smoke rising up into the crystal-clear air as I asked myself, “Why have I not been here before?” My answer, perhaps a bit lame considering where I live (a country renowned for its winters), was simply “I don’t ski!”

I tried, many years ago, to join the cool cats throwing themselves with controlled abandon down Grouse Mountain, hoping I too could one day slalom like Jean-Claude Killy, board like Sean White and party like Ross Rebagliati. I picked myself up off the slope time and time again, insisting that the next run would be “the one,” destined to bring me a life of endless snow babes and steaming Monte Cristos sipped slowly in a luxurious hot tub. Alas, it was not to be and I soon left the bunny hill despondent and resigned to a life of cycling and jogging, followed by cold showers.

As I scanned the mountain that day I saw hundreds of happy faces, young and old, their skin slightly tanned by the surprisingly warm sunshine, looking forward to an afternoon of fun racing or simple socializing. It was, in a word, “perfect.”

Now, while the sight of me toting two heavy cameras as I hoofed my way precariously up the hill to the slalom start line might have been partly responsible for some of the smiles that greeted me as I reached the apex, I was, nevertheless, treated to a warm welcome and even offered a ride back down the mountain at the end of the race. Of course, I politely refused, intent on showing everyone that I could, indeed, commandeer a ski slope, albeit in my farm boots, without succumbing to disaster.

Much to my delight, about half way down, a young man greeted me with the offer of hot coffee, which I quickly accepted, just to show those watching this slightly clumsy photographer with measured amusement, that I could even slide without spilling a drop!

Thanks Phoenix, for a fun couple of hours.

~~~

I enjoyed watching Canadian tennis star Milos Raonic defeat defending champ Stan Wawrinka at the Australian Open on Monday, and his victory went a long way to establish Raonic as a bonafide elite player.

When he “burst” on the professional tennis scene a few years ago, eventually making it to the semis at Wimbledon in 2014, he seemed destined to join the ranks of the elite. But then the injuries began, leading to loss of form, and it seemed likely Raonic may begin to fade. His win in Melbourne, however, clearly illustrated he is again poised for a run at his first Grand Slam final.

By the time this goes to print, his fate will be sealed, but I am really hoping that my next column will be announcing the first ever Canadian tennis player to win a men’s or women’s Grand Slam title!