One giant component to staying active that is often overlooked once people reach adulthood is the fun factor. While parking farther away from the grocery store slalom racing picentrance, juggling finances to invest in a treadmill desks, or squeezing in some laps while your kid does swimming lessons are valid (and great!) methods of keeping fit, perhaps it’s time to shake up your routine a little.

Fitness gurus are always encouraging you to “try something new.” But have you ever considered trying something old?

Whether you used to dance, play soccer, or do archery, there are so many opportunities to fit past activities back into your life. And the benefits are endless—a great workout, new socializing opportunities, and best of all, you already know you love doing it!

Martial arts lessons, a running group, a recreational volleyball league, a masters swim club, drop-in shinny hockey…whatever used to light you up, now’s the perfect time to re-incorporate it into your life.

Not convinced? Maybe Sport and Wellness’ own Sandra Womack, rec consultant extraordinaire, can persuade you to dust off your old stick, bat, racquet, cleats, or goggles and recapture the joy of being active.

Here’s the story of how she rediscovered one of her childhood loves this past winter: downhill ski racing.

Adrenaline junkie? I doubt it, but I did love going fast. And still do! Whether it was running in gym class, skiing on a mountain, doing my homework, or chores around the farm – fast was my pace. I was the kid in gym class would sprint from one end of the gym to the other just to see how fast I could go.

My very first experience with downhill skiing was in Saskatchewan (yes you read that right) when I was in grade 4. The hill is called Table Mountain and we went for a class field trip. I fell in love with skiing immediately. When I got home from the field trip my parents could see that I had a new favourite activity. Then I found out that there was a race team at the hill. They trained on weekends and had official races every three weeks or so… and it just so happened that I had some older cousins that were on this race team. Well, needless to say, my cousins and I went to work on convincing my parents that I should start ski racing. I’m pretty sure my mom was apprehensive about me doing this activity due to my personality (I was pretty competitive and fearless as a kid) and the fact that moving at high speed on a mountain is required to do well in the sport didn’t sit well with her.  She was pretty hesitant to let my join initially, but she finally caved by the time I was in grade 7 and let me join the team.

To say that I loved the sport would be an understatement. There was something about skiing that made me feel so blissful. Maybe it was being outside in the fresh air. Maybe it was all the great people I met, maybe it was having to make decisions in a split second, with no one to rely on but myself. I honestly don’t know what made me love it so much; all I know is that I did.  I stopped ski racing after I graduated high school. At the time I wasn’t sure what I wanted to take in post-secondary, but I knew I wanted to play a varsity sport. I decided to pursue volleyball and had a fantastic five-year varsity experience. Due to that commitment I barely had time to ski during those five years. After I was done university I skied recreationally with my family two to three times a year, because I thought that was the only option available. I am thrilled to report that I was in wrong!

This past year I found out there is a masters ski club right here in Edmonton. The Alberta Masters Ski Club is a group of passionate skiers who ski in a semi-structured environment with goals of improving technique and racing skills using a combination of technical free skiing and gate training sessions.  The foundation of the group is a social and supportive environment where encouragement and active participation rule.  Many members compete in various race competitions designed for masters athletes.

Needless to say, when I found out about this master’s club, I was immediately intrigued. Some of my best memories as a kid were created from being on that race team. I had a huge amount of support from my family and friends, especially my husband. Even with all the research I did about the club I still wasn’t totally sure what it would be like. (Would it be like what I did as a kid? Would it be as fun? Can I still do this?) Despite some misgivings, I knew I wanted to go and try it. So, I borrowed a bunch of equipment and went to a drop-in session to check it out. To say I had fun would be an understatement. After the session was over, I couldn’t even wait to tell my husband all about it. I called him on the way home. (It takes approximately 12 mins to drive from Snow Valley to my house.) I told him the people are great, the course was great, the coaching was great, the snow was great- it was all SO GREAT! When I got home, my husband just looked at me and said, “I’ve never seen you this happy before. So, what’s next? We’re clearly doing this”.

Several trips to Sundance Ski Shop later I had all new gear and had signed up to join the masters team. I went to five races in a span of three months. (The first race was two days after my first drop-in session). I think I progressed a lot over the three months that I trained and raced. The medals I won across the races were great, and I was thrilled to receive them, but more than anything I was just happy to have that feeling back of doing something I loved to do. Literally can’t get enough of it. It’s the best feeling in the world and I hope everyone else gets the opportunity to experience happiness at that level, because there is really no other feeling like it.

Finish Results This Year:

  • Slalom start of Jan – finished 4th
  • Slalom end of Jan – finished 2nd
  • Giant Slalom start of Feb – finished 2nd
  • Super G race end of Feb – finished 2nd
  • Super G race end of Feb – finished 2nd
  • Giant Slalom end of Feb – finished 3rd
  • Slalom race end of Feb – finished 2nd

by Sandra Veikle

Sandra holds a degree in Sport, Health and Physical Education; specializing in Organizational Management.  Sandra played for the Vancouver Island University Mariners Women’s Volleyball team, winning the CCAA National championship in 2012. She has a lifelong passion for sports and a desire to share that with university students.