By Hunter Middleton, Frontenac Zone Patroller (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I’m a fourth-year patroller from Batawa Ski Hill in Frontenac Zone in Ontario. This season I had the amazing opportunity to patrol the 2023 Canada Winter Games alpine ski event with the Crabbe Mountain patrol in New Brunswick.
Someone told me that “good things happen when you talk to people,” and I think this fits the experience. In talking with some more seasoned patrollers I learned we were able to volunteer and experience these awesome events through the CSP and I wanted to experience them myself. My father, who also patrols in Frontenac Zone, was open to volunteering, so I reached out to see what we needed to do.
As a post-secondary student I was a little nervous about educational conflicts preventing me from going, but luckily the games were held over my school break week. As the week approached, the excitement started to build as this would also be my first time travelling to the east coast.
We headed out for the 14-hour drive the Sunday before training was scheduled to start. While the weather held as we made the journey, it was dark when we finally arrived at the ski hill before heading to our accommodations. After a quick look around, we headed on our way but not before getting stuck due to a GPS error and having some of the friendly locals help us out and send us on our way!
The nerves set in on the first official day of patrolling at Crabbe Mountain. After introductions and some instruction, it was like I had been patrolling there all season. With warm greetings and jokes flowing, all the nerves were gone; over the days spent with the same crew of patrollers, I didn’t want to leave.
At times it was intimidating to be the outsider because even after a tour of the hill, it was a lot bigger than Batawa. The runs used were close to the patrol hut so grabbing extra mitts or my camera was easy. It was a lot to take in all of the different racers from across the country, most of them only a couple of years younger than me, racing at speeds I’ve never seen other than on TV. Some of my favourite moments were talking with other patrollers, learning how they got into patrol, and swapping some stories of things we had seen on patrol.
For anyone looking for a sign to volunteer, let this be it. You will have a once-in-a-lifetime experience and leave with so many new things learned and memories to last a lifetime. With the 2023 Canada Winter Games now history, I’m already planning for the next time the call comes out, along with planning a trip to visit my new friends at Crabbe Mountain for the next ski season.
Photos provided by Hunter Middleton
This post is also available in: Français