In a world where nothing is certain, there is one thing I have learned to count on over the years.. A ski day at my home hill of Whitewater in Nelson BC is sure to be sweetened by a sighting of local skier Mary Woodward going for a rip on the slopes. Sadly May 31st 2014 marked the end of an era, when Mary Woodward passed away at the age of 80. Her life was celebrated this weekend by the Kootenay community and her family, a tribe of great skiers raised by the Mary who are all pillars of our mountain community.
Mary has been a true inspiration to me over the years. The first time I finished a backcountry run and saw her at the bottom waiting for her ride to shuttle her back up to the resort something hit me– It was as if the soul of skiing itself stood right in front of me, embodied by an 75 year old woman covered in snow. Mary lived life the way it should be lived- Skiing laps of pow every day and on weekends passing her love for skiing on to her grand kids. I owe it to Mary for driving me to make choices that ensure I enjoy a long life in the mountains. It would be a true dream to retire like Mary and ski pow everyday with my kids and friends- reaping the fruits of my labor with knees that still work.
I’m saddened by Mary’s passing, but she lived the dream in her golden years and it’s something none of us should ever forget. Mary had more stoke than fifty pro skiers put together in a fruit smoothie. She embodied pure, untainted happiness when she was skiing. What saddens me the most is that the Kootenays just lost a little piece of Magic….Rare magic- the type Disney would pay millions for…. ( So if you missed it don’t bother coming now … Best off going to Revelstoke and waiting in line with all the nerds. ie. Chris Rubens and Izzy Lynch )
In honour of Mary and keeping her magic alive in our community-here are the Top 5 Things I Learned from Mary Woodward:
1 . Save your knees for retirement. Don’t bag them to hard in your twenties trying to be rad…You’ll need them for your retirement strategy.
2. Master the Art of Skiing Pow in Tight Trees. Mary’s masterful tree skiing skills were her secret to skiing pow every day.. She could always find stashes in the tight forest on north aspects.
3. Bring a lunch to the ski hill and always sit at the same table. Ski Lodge lunch hour is like a prison cafeteria. Your status and hierarchy is based on your table and who you are sitting with. If you have to buy your lunch you’ll lose your spot at the round table.
4. It’s never to late to start skiing. Mary started skiing a bit in her twenties but didn’t really start skiing pow in the backcountry consistently until her 60s. Mary taught me that saying “I’m too old to start” is total bullshit.
5.This is the big one…Smile when you are skiing. It easy to forget when you are racing for fresh pow and trying to get back to the office all in one day… But it really helps the vibe of ski area and the community and brings everyone back down to earth when you can do it all with a smile on your face.
Mary’s smile was legendary and could light up the entire mountain on a storm day. I will remember it every time I find a stash of perfect pow hidden in the trees and find myself surrounded by good friends and family during lunch hour in the Whitewater daylodge….