This article is an oldie but a goodie!
Posted: February 25, 2014
Our blog is chock full of great ideas for fun things to see and do in York Durham and Headwaters. We are always adding new content and updating old posts, but sometimes you might stumble upon something from our vault. If this article has inspired you to hit the road, be sure to double-check that the featured stops in this post are still welcoming visitors.
I recently wrote an Op-Ed news article entitled “Are Canadians living up to the hashtag #WeAreWinter?” (to read the full article, click here). In it, I questioned whether we Canadians really love winter activities as much as the Sochi 2014 Olympic media campaigns say we do.
I felt compelled to write the article after a visit to Dagmar Ski Resort in Central Counties’ region of Durham, where I learned—to my astonishment—that participation in skiing has declined over the last five years. A quick internet search confirmed that, indeed, general sports participation is declining all over the country. Alarmingly, the numbers are higher for young people than adults.
That’s a statistic I simply can’t comprehend. I love winter; I always have. In my family, bundling up and spending time out of doors in the cold, fresh air is a winter tradition. Already six years old, my son has been tobogganing, skiing, skating—you name it!
I had a wonderful day on the slopes at Dagmar, and if you’re one of those people who haven’t found the opportunity to come out and visit lately, then this post is for you. Downhill skiing is nothing short of exhilarating. It’s an experience you don’t want to miss.
I’d been looking forward to this day for quite some time, actually. I only learned to downhill ski a few years ago (though I’d grown up cross-country skiing). Back then, the idea of whizzing down snow-covered hills was intimidating. I thought that since I hadn’t learned to downhill ski as a kid, it was something I wouldn’t be able to pick up as an adult.
Not so, as I found out. Not only was it far easier than I thought it would be, but Dagmar is a great place to learn, too. They have a range of slopes, each with varying levels of difficulty. For the veteran, they’ve got your traditional black diamond runs as well as a graded terrain park for the more adventurous skiers and snowboarders.
But if you’re a beginner, Dagmar’s gentler hills are much more manageable. It also has a fantastic ski school for those beginners who would prefer a helping hand. In fact, the ski school is something Dagmar’s owner, Caroline Yli-Luoma, is very proud of. “Kids as young as three and four come out to learn,” she tells me.
I saw the evidence for myself, when I came across a little girl who could not have been more than four or five years old. It was adorable—she was with her ski instructor who was talking her through a trip down one of the milder hills. I smiled to myself as I listened to encouragements like, “Come on, darling, that’s it. Just like we practiced.”
I spent my day on a hill called “Lovers’ Lane,” which happens to be my favourite. It meanders around and behind a stand of trees, giving skiers a cozy, in-the-woods kind of feel before it finishes off at the bottom near the lifts … so you can go up and do it all again.
And let me tell you: winding your way down a ski hill, with the wind in your face, is an addictive thing! As my day drew to a close, I started to think “Okay, this is my last trip up.” And then when I got to the bottom I thought, “Okay, this is my last trip up.”
I must have had about ten ‘last trips up.’
I have to make mention, too, of the view from the top. If you’ve ever wondered what a winter wonderland looks like, this is it. Imagine a panorama of the glittering white, snow-covered hills of rural Durham, blanketed by a cerulean blue sky. This is what I saw each time I got to the top. And no matter how many trips I took up the lifts, I had to pause and admire the view each time.
I can’t imagine winter without outdoor activities like skiing. This is what winter in Canada is all about. Perhaps the statistics show that people just aren’t getting outside in winter like they used to. But you know what? That doesn’t mean that winter sport is fading from our collective Canadian experience. There were still plenty of people out on the hills the day I visited Dagmar. Plenty of people who know and love winter, and all of its activities.
If you’ve forgotten what that thrill feels like, you’ve got to get back out and remind yourself. And when you do, Dagmar Ski Resort will be waiting to welcome you with open arms.
Katie Ryalen is a freelance writer and copyeditor. She lives in Durham, Ontario with her husband, son and three spoiled cats. Blog: katieryalen.wordpress.com Twitter: @KatieRyalen