Winter Sports (Intermediate)

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In this episode, listen in as Jill and Mark talk about the things they like to do around Vancouver in the wintertime.

Mark: Hi, everyone and welcome to the EnglishLingQ Podcast.

I am your host, Mark Kaufmann. Today, Jill and I are just going to be talking about winter activities, winter vacations, things we like to do in the wintertime. But, before we get into that, I just would like to remind all of you to get more out of this Podcast by visiting our website at, to take advantage of all the learning tools available at our site.

Mark: Now, Jill, I know recently my family and I were skiing; but, before we get into that, maybe you can talk a bit about something you’ve done recently.

Jill: Okay. I guess, over the Christmas holidays last month, my boyfriend and I went to a small town in central British Columbia about nine hours northeast of Vancouver where they get, usually, quite a lot of snow. His family is from there, so we went there for about six days over the holidays and went snowmobiling and snowshoeing and just sort of hung out and enjoyed the snow. It actually wasn’t very cold. Some days it was above zero and sunny and beautiful. It actually didn’t snow at all while we were there.

There was just a little bit of snow from before, but there was enough that we could do some things and enjoy the snow.

Mark: So, there wasn’t that much snow?

Jill: No, there actually wasn’t. But, you know, we went up again just a couple of weekends ago and they’d had a big snowstorm and it was actually snowing while we were there and there were several, probably two feet — I might be exaggerating, maybe less than that, but quite a lot — of snow; fluffy, powdery, nice snow.

Mark: There’s no question, it doesn’t matter what activity in the snow, when there’s fresh snow it’s that much better.

Jill: For sure.

Mark: You know, you mentioned snowshoeing.

I’ll go locally here, quite often; go up to Cyprus or, which are two local mountains here in the Vancouver area. Some days you go up and, you know, sometimes here because the weather is not that cold, sometimes it’s raining up there or if it’s not raining, the snow is melting and then it freezes at night. And so, very often, when you go up, the conditions can be icy and for snowshoeing, for skiing, for cross country skiing, for any of those activities, if it’s icy, it’s not as good.

Jill: No.

Mark: Whereas, if you go up and if I go up snowshoeing and it’s just snowed, it’s just phenomenal. You know, you are off in the deep snow, there are no tracks from anybody else and it’s really great.

Jill: I mean, this year we’ve had so much snow; we’ve had so much rainfall, which is not unusual for Vancouver in the winter. But, we’ve had colder than normal temperatures, so all of our local mountains and Whistler have so much snow. And so, I think skiing has been exceptional and snowshoeing has been exceptional this year.

Mark: Yeah, I haven’t skied on the local mountains because I find it tough to go up and wait in line on the weekends. The time to go locally is during the week when there are not as many people but, unfortunately, we have to work.

Jill: We should just have a snow day!

Mark: We definitely should. You know, my daughter, yesterday, had Mountain Day at school.

I thought, maybe we should have Mountain Day at The Linguist.

Jill: I think that’s a great idea.

Mark: We better do it soon.

Jill: But, you know, that’s true. I haven’t been to the local mountains actually for years on a weekend. I went last year once, I think, in the evening for some night skiing and it’s not very busy then if you go at, you know, 5:00 or 6:00 p.m. and you’re there until 10:00 p.m. when the hills close. It’s pretty good then. There is never any lineups and it’s fine then but, otherwise.

I went to Whistler a few weeks ago, which is a world-class resort and very, very busy, but because there’s so many runs’I mean, I don’t know, I’ve only skied Whistler a couple of times, so I don’t know if it’s always this way, but.we never waited in any lineups. There’s just so many runs and the runs are so long that I don’t think there’s the kind of lineups that there are at our local hills where the runs are really short. You know, if you are a good skier or a fast skier, you can get down in ten minutes, five minutes, some of the runs.

Mark: One minute.

Jill: One minute. Whereas at Whistler you can at least go for, you know, fifteen-twenty minutes.

Mark: Yeah, Whistler, they’ve got some long runs there.

Jill: They have great runs, yeah.

Mark: Really long runs, yeah, and it’s just much bigger; many more lifts. The lifts are higher capacity. Like up at the local mountains. I’m not sure how many people the chairlifts hold but, I mean, a lot of them might be triples.

Jill: Yeah, maybe three.

Mark: Maybe three. Whereas, I know at Christmas — or at New Year’s — anyway, after New Year’s I was at Big White. They had a new six-person chair right beside a four-person chair, high-speed chair, so that’s ten people going up every chair. So, I mean, that was really great.

So, there wasn’t much in the way of lineups, even though that’s a busy time of year for ski resorts because all the kids are out of school on holidays and people, in general, are on holiday, so.

Jill: And was the snow up there was there a lot of snow up there, too. Was it a better year than usual?

Mark: Yeah.

Jill: They always get a lot of snow, don’t they?

Mark: They don’t get the volume of snow that we get here on the coast. But, what they tend to get it just accumulates over the course of the winter and into the spring because their temperature is cooler, so they don’t lose any. It doesn’t melt; it doesn’t rain, for the most part.

But, that mountain is also quite rocky, so they need quite a bit of snow before you start to not have problems with rocks. And so, it was great at Christmas. I mean, there was plenty of snow and it was light, fluffy snow because it’s in the interior. A lot of time on the coast here at Whistler, the snow can be a little heavier, but then there’s lots of it.

Jill: Well, that’s right. I’ve seen on TV some of the’you know, they have snow reports on local television stations talking about all the different mountains throughout BC and, of course, our local mountains and Whistler usually have the most snow.

This year’I saw a report, I think maybe a couple of weeks ago, that showed, you know, 280, 320 centimeters of snow at these hills around here, which is a lot of snow.

Mark: Yeah, I think it might be more than that.

Jill: Maybe more now, yeah.

Mark: I know that they said at Whistler, and that was around Christmastime, they had something like 500 centimeters already; like a huge number and we had a few big storms after that, so they’ve got a ton of snow.

Jill: Well, when I was skiing there it was very powdery. You know, there was the odd place that had some ice but, in general, it was soft powder and it was great.

Mark: Yeah, yeah.

Jill: Very good conditions.

Mark: I’m sure. I’d like to go. I haven’t been to Whistler in a long time.

Jill: You know, the hard thing about skiing, I find, is that it’s so expensive. You know, if you go to a good mountain, somewhere list Whistler, by the time you pay the tax on the Day Pass, it’s $80.00 for an adult. And, they don’t have lights on the hill so, you know, the last run is 3:00 p.m. Basically, that’s the last time you can go down. If you don’t get up there until, you know, 10:00 or 11:00, you stop for lunch and all the places are packed for lunch, you know, for maybe four hours of skiing you spend $80.00. It’s quite a lot.

Mark: For sure and, not to mention, your driving up there and back, which is an hour and a half from town here. Yeah, it’s expensive; skiing.

Jill: I don’t know. I’ve never been to Big White.

Mark: It’s similar. It adds up for a family of five; although, my youngest is still free so, really it’s only four of us. She won’t be free much longer.

Jill: No.

Mark: Yeah, it is expensive. What’s great when you’re staying somewhere, especially Big White or at least from ski resorts that I’ve been to, at Big White not only are you staying at the resort, but you’re actually on the hill. The accommodation is more or less on the hill.

So, you wake up in the morning and you put your skis on and you ski down to the bottom of the lift.

Jill: Oh, wow, right from where you’re staying.

Mark: Right from where you stay.

Jill: Oh, that’s great.

Mark: It’s awesome and, you know, you are on the mountain. So, it’s snow everywhere and usually the kids are sleeping in so, that’s fine. I get up and put my skis on and I’m out there right at the start of the day and I get a couple hours skiing in or my wife and I and it’s great. Then, after a couple of hours, you ski back to the place and see how everybody is doing, maybe feed the kids, get them ready and then they come out too.

It’s a real luxury. I had never been to a ski resort like that where the accommodation is so convenient, you know. So, we never go to the chalet for lunch there. You don’t waste time charging around and eating the garbage that they serve and there, it’s great.

Jill: I’ll have to try that place one time, maybe. I’m not such an avid skier. I haven’t skied much over the past really 15 years. When I was a child and until I was about 14 years old, I had a season’s pass every year and really loved skiing and then just sort of lost interest. So, really, I might go skiing or snowboarding once every, you know, two or three years max now.

Mark: Is that right?

Jill: So, you know, I do really enjoy it when I go, but I’m not into it enough that I can justify going and spending all the money on all the new equipment. So, you know, I just go once every few years.

Mark: Yeah, you know, to be honest, that’s about the only time we go skiing is when we go for a week trip. The thought of rounding all the gear up and everybody up and buying tickets for everybody and going up and standing in line on the weekend or driving all the way to Whistler for the day, especially, the kids aren’t that old so, you know, how much skiing are they going to do and if you’re at Whistler you are there for the day.

There’s no sort of going home early or some guys can’t go home and some guys stay skiing. Everybody’s kind of got to do everything, so. There it’s such a long way up to the top that maybe that’s why we haven’t been. But, it’s a great family activity, no question, because everybody can do it together, right?

Jill: Yeah, that’s right and kids seem to get quite good a skiing quite quickly. I mean, maybe not all kids; but, I mean, I see so many just tiny kids on the ski hill and I can’t believe how they are going. It’s unbelievable. I remember learning as a kid. I was so much better than I am now. I think, you know, you don’t have the same fear is probably part of it.

Mark: The biggest thing, I think, is the fear because skiing is not that tough a thing to do.

Jill: No.

Mark: It’s tough to get good at it.

Jill: Yes.

Mark: But, to make your way down the hill

Jill: you can snowplow all the way down the hill.

Mark: You can do it. It’s not that difficult. The kids, at a young age, very soon are able to go down the hill. But, the biggest obstacle to skiing is fear. I know that a lot of people who don’t ski until they are adults, you know, and then they start trying to learn, I think it’s very difficult for them, especially because you are pointing yourself down a hill, a slippery hill, with boards strapped to your feet.

That’s a tough thing to overcome.

Jill: Yeah. I think maybe that’s why well, I mean, some people just don’t do any winter sports at all. But, I think some other people do things like snowshoeing or cross country skiing, so there’s no real speed involved. It’s more for exercise.

Mark: Well, yeah. I mean the snowshoeing is an unbelievable exercise if you really go at it.

Jill: Oh, yeah. You can run or you can be going up hills

Mark: or if you are in the deep snow it’s a lot of work.

Jill: Yeah, when there’s snow up to your hips or something.

Mark: You are chugging up a hill, but then there’s a sense of satisfaction of getting up to the top of the hill.

I mean, it’s essentially like hiking with the added benefit that coming down is much more fun than hiking down because you can actually, you know, either jump in the snow or almost half ski down, in a way. I mean, not really skiing, but

Jill: sliding a little bit.

Mark: It’s just much more fun. It’s really a great feeling to be on a snow-covered hill and charge down.

Jill: I agree.

Mark: It’s much different than hiking.

Jill: And knowing that a warm hot chocolate is waiting for you at the bottom when you get there. I love that.

Mark: I wasn’t really thinking of that, but, yeah.

Jill: That’s part of the reason I like winter sports.

I don’t even know if it’s so much that I enjoy the sports, in particular, but I really enjoy

Mark: it’s the hot chocolate.

Jill: It’s the reward afterwards. That’s definitely a part of it.

Mark: Well, I don’t have the hot chocolate.

Jill: Or coffee or whatever, you know.

Mark: How about getting in the hot tub?

Jill: Perfect.

Mark: Because a lot of the time you start to get cold once you come down because you are working hard and

Jill: sweating going up.

Mark: Then you come down and you kind of get colder and colder, especially the worst is Grouse Mountain because there’s a gondola going up to it.

I was up there once this year and went up and you’re pouring sweat and charge down and still we’re sweating but then there were a lot of people up that day because it was a weekend and you’ve got to wait for the gondola to take you down to the bottom.

Jill: Yeah, sometimes there’s a wait. You’ve got to wait a few

Mark: For sure. It was at least two or three

Jill: gondolas.

Mark: I had to wait and that’s, whatever, 15-20 minutes. I don’t know how often they go, but I was in that lineup for a while. I was starting to get cold. I had a change of clothes in my bag or at least a dry sweatshirt.

So, I think the people there thought I was a little bit strange taking off my wet shirts in line and putting a dry shirt on, but I was a lot more comfortable after that.

Jill: You were stripping in the lineup.

Mark: Basically, yeah, I got a few funny looks.

Jill: Well, you gotta do what you gotta do.

Mark: Well, yeah, I was freezing. As it was, I was cold and by the time I got home, I mean, I went straight to the hot tub, for sure, to warm up. Still, I got snowshoes, I don’t know, three, four, five years ago and I really like them. They’re great.

Jill: Yeah.

I think it’s a good activity, too, if you are into running, you know, in the nicer months, spring months, summer months, because it can be harder to run. I mean in Vancouver here, you can pretty much run all year round; road run, anyway. It just might be rainy. It might not be very nice out, but there’s not usually snow on the ground.

Mark: No, not too often.

Jill: So, you can run all year round. But, I think in the winter it’s nicer, if you are a runner, to actually go up and go snowshoe running rather than maybe being on a slippery, wet road.

Mark: There’s something nice about being out in the snow.

I mean, I love it; especially if the sun is shinning it’s even better. But, even if it’s overcast, it’s just the white blanket everywhere and it’s still and if you are snowshoeing and you can get off the trail, you are in the woods with nobody around.

Jill: It’s amazing.

Mark: I really like it. Maybe it’s because we are always surrounded by no snow down here that it’s just not as nice. Maybe it’s the novelty of being in the snow; but, any excuse to go do something in the snow.

Jill: I think it is a novelty for me, for sure, because I know that I don’t have a desire to live in other parts of Canada where they have a lot of snow for five, six months a year.

You know, it’s cold and they’ve just got a lot of snow all winter long. I’ve never wanted to live somewhere like that. But, I think because we do have it so rarely here in Vancouver, when we get it, it’s fun; it’s different; it’s exciting, you know, and it’s much nicer than the pouring rain, which we get so much of. At least when it’s snowing, sometimes, it’s still quite bright out. The trees are beautiful and, you know, the snow is reflecting and it’s just fun because we’re not used to having it.

Mark: For sure; although, we do have it on the mountains. We always have snow in the wintertime, just about. I mean, we do; sometimes more, sometimes less, but there always is snow up there.

So, it is nice to get up there and enjoy.

Jill: We kind of have the best of both worlds. We can go to the snow if we want or stay away from it if we want.

Mark: Yeah.

Jill: It’s not forced on us like it is in so many parts of Canada.

Mark: That’s right.

Especially in the spring when it starts to warm up there can be some beautiful days in the town here where you can, you know, whatever, be outside golfing or playing tennis or doing outdoor activities and there’s still snow on the mountain. You know, you can go up and get some nice

Jill: people are sun tanning up there.

Mark: Sun tanning up there and spring skiing and, yeah, it’s pretty neat.

I remember — I don’t know how long ago it was — when Cyprus Bowl was open on Canada Day because we had so much snow that year, which is July 1st, which is really late.

Jill: Very rare for us to still have snow on the mountains.

Mark: Yeah, so that was, of course, the latest they’d ever been open. And, I think, maybe they had some days where they weren’t open, you know, in that spring and early summer, but they opened Canada Day and it was a free day.

Jill: Wow.

Mark: It’s unreal, really, when you think of it.

Jill: Yeah, it is.

Mark: We still have snow locally Canada Day. Yeah.

I was going to ask you though I’ve never been snowmobiling.

You said you went snowmobiling. What’s that like?

Jill: You know, it’s not really a novelty to me because my dad actually also lives somewhere in a small town east of Vancouver, quite far east, and they get a lot of snow and it’s cold there in the winter. He always had snowmobiles and we would go up there and visit him growing up in the wintertime. So, I’ve always been on them. But, you know, it’s fun. I think I could take it or leave it. You know, I think a lot of guys, you know, like to go on and go really fast and it’s a thrill. It doesn’t do that much for me. I get scared. I don’t want to go that fast.

Mark: Right.

Jill: When I was younger I did. I loved it. My granddad, my dad’s dad, was a crazy man on a snowmobile and we were always scabbing and bruising because he was doing crazy stuff with us and we were being thrown off.

Mark: Is that right?

Jill: Oh, yeah, it was just’so, I think that maybe sort of traumatized me a little bit so that now I’m fairly paranoid.

Mark: Right.

Jill: And, you know, I know my brother had his toes broken.

Mark: Yeah.

Jill: So, I know people who have been hurt on snow machines.

So, I now’I like going on, but I prefer not to drive myself and I go on with only somebody I trust a lot and if that person goes too fast, they hear about it.

Mark: Right; yeah.

Jill: It’s fun. It’s nice, you know, if it’s a nice day. At Christmastime we had a gorgeous, clear, sunny day; not a cloud in the sky; wasn’t really cold; it was so beautiful and we went on, you know, probably at least an hour and a half-long ride through the trees and it was really nice. So, you know, it just sort of depends what you are into.

Mark: Yeah.

Jill: I think most guys who do it have fun.

Mark: Oh, I’m sure it’s fun.

The only, I guess, similar thing I have done is’jet skiing is kind of similar or whatever you call it. A seadoo or whatever you call those things.

Jill: Yeah, on the water.

Mark: I’ve only done that once, mind you. I mean, it was okay; zip around for a while. But, I would think, I mean at least with that, you’d kind of get bored after awhile, unless you start trying to do more and more like crazier and crazier things, which, as you say, ends up with, a lot of times, people getting hurt.

Jill: Yeah, yeah.

Mark: People do get hurt on snow machines.

Jill: Oh, yeah, they go fast. And I think, you know, it just depends.

My family, my granddad and my grandma, in particular, always had snowmobiles and always had lots of property where they lived and, you know, hundreds and hundreds of acres that was their own private property full of trees and trails and, you know, cabins and so. They had friends that every year, you know, and us, too, when we were up there you’d go on sort of day-long trips and you pack stuff and you build a fire along the way and have marshmallows and hotdogs. So, it’s kind of, you know, it’s like an event rather than just speeding around for an hour. It’s not really about going really fast. It’s more about sort of being out in the.

Mark: Yeah.

I mean, I would image that part of it would appeal to me more, too. And, in a way, you can do the same thing on cross country skis for that matter or snowshoeing. Just pack a lunch and off you go.

Jill: It’s just, you know, the lazy man’s way of getting around.

Mark: That’s right, basically.

Jill: It doesn’t take any energy.

Mark: Yeah, that’s right, which wouldn’t appeal to me. I’ve got to get some exercise out of it.

Jill: Why do it if you’re not getting exercise, right?

Mark: Well, that’s right.

Mark: Well, I guess we’ve touched on a lot of different winter sports here today.

The one we haven’t really touched on, of course, is hockey, which, for the most part, tends to be more of an organized sport now. But, getting back to our trip to Big White where they have a big outdoor rink that’s really another big attraction for us going there is the big outdoor rink and every night there’s hockey games; pick up hockey games going. And, you know, you just show up and whoever shows up gets split up into two teams of people of all ages and all abilities and you just have a game. I tell ya, it’s lots of fun. My seven-year-old son, he just loves it, you know, because he plays together with the big guys and he just thinks it’s the best and, of course, everybody’s pretty good.

So, the older guys, you know, if the little guys have the puck, they let them take it for a while and then have a shot or pass it to the little guys and keep them in the game. And, at the same time, the older guys are pretty competitive and trying hard. Oh, yeah, and my dad comes out. I mean, it’s really a lot of fun. It’s sort of the roots of hockey, in a way.

Jill: Canadian tradition.

Mark: Canadian tradition and, really, it’s just fun. You know, sometimes we are up there marveling at’the level of the games is pretty good a lot of the time, obviously, because a lot of people play hockey, you know, or have played as kids.

So, anyway, that’s lots of fun and you do get the people who haven’t played before, you know, the Australian or whoever shows up to try it out and they have fun, too.

Jill: Can they skate, usually?

Mark: Well, not so much, but they kind of run around. Actually, some people take a fair bit of abuse, or their bodies take a fair bit of abuse, as they are trying to play. It’s not that easy to keep your balance and do things with the puck. But, everybody plays together and it’s fun and there’s plenty of hot chocolate there.

Jill: Oh, good. I could join in if I wanted?

Mark: That’s right.

Jill: No.

Mark: Actually, my daughters came and played; not in the game, but with their friends and they just played with the.

Jill: watched

Mark: No. They would skate with the puck and they had sticks for them and they liked it. There were four or five girls and they were playing because the skating, on its own, you can only do that so long. But when you are playing a game, you can get into it more and keep at it longer.

Mark: Otherwise, I think that probably covers the topic of

Jill: winter sports.

Mark: For those of you who live in countries where there is no winter or no snow, then I recommend you come to Canada.

Jill: Come to Vancouver.

Mark: Come to Vancouver, yeah.

Jill: Not just to anywhere in Canada.

Mark: That’s right.

Jill: BC.

Mark: Come to Vancouver, BC, if you want to have fun; British Columbia. Otherwise, we’ll catch up with you next time on EnglishLingQ.

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