March 20th marks the start of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. At long last, daylight starts to make an appearance before 7AM. Temperatures aren’t exactly warm yet, but they’re at least trending in that direction.
With spring fever comes this little itch that compels me to move. To shake out those winter cobwebs and work through stagnation. My first weekend of spring this year gifted me two completely different opportunities to get moving: roller skating and snowboarding.
I got to attend a birthday bash for Megan Alexander of Toronto’s good space yoga studio at what might just be the coolest Friday-night venue on the city’s outskirts: Scooters Roller Palace. $18.50 buys you entrance from 21:00-00:00 and includes your roller skate rental.
When asked how she decided upon the venue for her party, Megan described wanting to hold on to her youth. I can’t think of a better way to feel young than putting yourself in a situation where you’re starting from scratch. Where you learn the unfamiliar and do so at a vibrant venue.
I dabbled in rollerblading for a brief time around 5th and 6th grade. Apart from that, my comparable experience atop wheels-for-soles is negligible. I incorrectly assumed the movement would be akin to figure skating. In a way it is, but it’s also completely different.
Granted, I learned to figure skate like any good Canadian kid does at a very young age (thanks gym class!). On the ice, you balance on a sharpened blade that glides you forward but which can also push smoothly out to the side.
Therein lies the biggest difference between ice skating and roller skating. Or at least, this was the hardest challenge for me to overcome. On top of four wheels, I found it significantly more challenging to push my legs out sideways to propel myself forward.
Perhaps this is inherent to the design of the wheel – there’s more friction resisting your sliding action. Of course, the pros make the gliding look easy. There must be a trick to the movement that I couldn’t master on my first session.
A short walk from Clarkson GO station in Mississauga, the Scooters scene is best tackled with entourage in tow. I say this because there is a serious crowd of locals who know how to scoot. And Friday night is the time to show off those skills. I appreciated showing up with a crew of first-time friends who made the learning curve more bearable.
With tunes bumping and disco-like lights decorating the hall, Scooters enables a family-fun night out. There was a healthy mix of adults, teens and a few kids at the Friday All Ages Skate Night.
I would definitely revisit Scooters and might consider taking a lesson to sharpen my skills. It sure is humbling to start at the beginning of a movement pattern progression. By my books, any opportunity to mix up how I move is a good one.
I was invited to attend what purports to be Ontario’s largest snowboard gathering. With Saturday gearing up to be a clear and sunny day, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get out for a shralp.
Located two hours north of Toronto and just outside of Markdale, Beaver Valley spends every other day of the winter season as a private ski club. Each spring, the club opens their doors to the province’s snowboard crowd as part of a fundraiser in memory of Jackie Snarr.
Lift tickets cost a reasonable $45 and an extra $45 buys you entrance to the day’s Banked Slalom Competition. Banked slalom is a snowboard race, regarded as the predecessor of boardercross, now an Olympic event. I wasn’t there to compete but I did enjoy supporting a few friends who did.
This video of the Legendary Banked Slalom at Mt. Baker Ski Area in Washington will give you a pretty good idea of what the sport entails.
Fortunate is an understatement when it comes to describing my opportunities to snowboard at resorts around the world. The flipside is that my standards for what makes up a worthwhile day out are quite high. If you asked me before last weekend, I would have written off skiing in Ontario with a blanket statement.
Suffice to say my opinion on the matter has now shifted thanks to the glorious sunny day I had last Saturday. I was also pleasantly surprised at the quality of runs on offer at Beaver Valley. Skiers’-right side of the hill boasted a seriously-steep double black diamond run. Skiers’-left featured a playful boardercross track open to those not competing in the event. As it turns out, I had written-off Ontario’s ski resorts unfairly.
Movement as Play
My partner describes ski hills as big playgrounds for adults. A place where we can all get together and have fun playing in the snow. That’s definitely the feeling I finished my Saturday with. That’s also what makes movement, and learning new movements, so much fun.
Stay tuned for more Weekend Movement editions. With summer around the corner, there will be even more opportunities to get outside to move and play.