Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Tubing with Kids at Mt. Norquay: You don't have to ski to have fun at this ski hill

Do you miss the good old days when all you needed to have fun was an old inner tube and a snowy hill? Tired of all the newfangled toboggans and sleds that cost a small fortune?

Snow tubing parks are popping up at ski hills everywhere. True, they use tubes specially manufactured for the purpose instead of recycled tire tubes, but they slide just as well. An added bonus is they usually have a rope tow of some kind to haul the tubes back up the hill, so you don't have to pull them yourselves. And the runs are separated from the people walking up, so you don't have to worry about your kids being bowled over by an out-of-control Krazy Karpeter.
So we decided to leave the skis at home and give the tube park at Mt. Norquay a try. Located at the bottom of the double-black diamond North American run, the tube park didn't look too daunting from the bottom. But after climbing up to the top and looking down, the intimidation factor set in. The North American is so named because it was once the steepest ski run in North America. When you're standing on it, you can reach out and touch the hill. Back in the day, before Norquay expanded and it consisted of a few black diamond runs (there was no such thing as double black yet; yes, I'm that old) and a couple greens, I got my 35,000er pin by completing 27 runs in one day down its quad killing moguls. Now, standing at its least steep section, I could feel the burn in my thighs and ache in my knees return. There was no mistaking the feeling: I was more than a little apprehensive at the thought of speeding down the carefully groomed run in an inflatable device. I hadn't felt that way at a ski hill in years, and it was exhilarating.

Our youngest son Michael (8) shared my apprehension, so on the first run we went together, holding onto each others' tubes until we came to a stop on the burlap covered run-out on the bottom. After experiencing the speed rush of that first run, he was ready, willing and able to go solo. Mack (12) needed no parental guidance. He was ready to go it alone right from the start and even asked the attendant to give him a spin. I was also ready to brave the hill on my own, and we spent the rest of our two-hour pass alternating between solo and tandem runs. On your own, the speed and cold air racing past your face was a blast. But tandem, the weight difference between the boys and myself turned a little nudge from the attendant into a wild, lopsided spin that bounced us off the sides of the runs. To say it was fun would be an understatement.

At the end of two hours, my quads were indeed a little tired from trudging up the hill over and over. The boys had gotten a good workout too, something I hadn't expected when we set off for our tubing adventure. But it makes sense. Walking up a hill, whether you're hauling your own tube or it's being pulled up for you, is great exercise. And how else could you convince kids to do a hill workout?

Taking a well-earned rest on a snow sofa at the end of the day.

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