I spent the last two days bombing around Quebec’s Mont Tremblant ski resort. I wanted to get the Eastern Canadian ski experience while I’m still out east and get a coffee mug to prove it.
Snow conditions were very good, although some of the terrain became very slick in the late afternoon. I’m told that Tremblant is usually like that. Hard ice (not surprisingly) is quite difficult to cut across and I definitely felt my Western weakness and instability when navigating through some blue ice patches.
Tremblant has the largest number of good skiers I’ve ever seen on a mountain. All hills have their share of good skiers, and in the case of Western hills, they usually cluster around the alpine bowl and other steep areas. In the case of Tremblant, they are all over the mountain, 80% know how to carve an arc and hold a bump…and there are lots of them. I credit the strong racing program at Tremblant, the multi-generational nature of skiing culture in the area, and the hard snow conditions. I also could argue that the limited terrain options on the mountain has everyone slicing corduroy at a young age. Boarders, however, are a minority
Despite terrain limitations, it’s a good hill and left me with a fairly decent impression of Eastern skiing, but I think that two days is enough on the trail system. Run design is really good where a combination of long verticals and wide cuts creates excellent cruising trails. The hill could use about an extra foot of snow to cover up the numerous rocks, roots and stumps that are very common throughout moguled and gladed areas. My skis sure were not happy about those.
I had a fairly close encounter with a tree somewhere in the glades. Actually, close encounter is kind of an understatement. I bear-hugged this tree, bounced off it like a rubber ball hitting a wall and slid a good 15 metres down the hill before realizing what happened. In my whole life of skiing, I’ve been sucked into tree-wells, smacked branches, face-planted, yard-saled, landed in open creeks and fallen down rock faces…but I’ve never hit a tree.
I’m quite confident in the trees and know how to move through them, yet snow-snakes attack the best of us and that was what sent into a juvenile maple tree. I wasn’t moving fast at at all. My up-hill ski hit a hidden root, knocking it off and causing me to pivot sharply on my downhill ski. With one ski off and no balance, the pivot acted somewhat like a sling shot and blasted me counter-clockwise directly into the tree below, which promptly threw me back down the hill like a rag doll. I consider myself very lucky. My upper body took most of the hit, avoiding my face but the shock vibrated up through my helmet and into my head where I probably suffered a mild concussion.
I now fully appreciate the danger of trees. I didn’t hit the tree that hard, the force being nothing more than the momentum from the pivot, but it totally knocked the wind right out of me. If someone hits a tree at even at moderate speed…it’s death.
I took a 40 minute break after that, but was back at the moguls a run or two later. Battered ego more than anything, especially after I just said to my friend “just follow me” :-p