Riding With Your Spouse – A Whistler Survival Guide
“Just because I sleep with you, doesn’t mean I have to ski with you.”
In the late 80s that slogan, printed on underwear or t-shirts by Toad Hall Studios, was one of the best-selling items in Whistler gift shops. Local Whistler couples who logged 50+ days a year would often ski together but the overall vibe was more of a “I’ll meet you back at the lodge, honey.”
But times change and that “Hot Doggers and Snow Bunnies” ideology crumpled in the 1990s as snowboarding hit the scene and evened the playing field with a fresh culture and new way to rip. Snowboarding was the turning point for why ski-town demographics are no longer described as “male dominated sausage parties” and technological innovation in skis and boards, combined with a slight attitude shift, means these days Whistler sees thousands of couples enjoying the slopes together each season.
But it isn’t always easy, and mistakes can still be made. So The Insider has assembled this list of ten great ways to get the most out of a day on the hill with your honey, babydoll, big daddy, sugarpie and soul mate (or whatever cheesy pet names you will never admit to using). Have fun.
1. Never Try to Teach Your Spouse How to Ride
This has been the unwritten rule since the very first winter after the beginning of time, just don’t do it. Being a rad skier/boarder does not necessarily make you a rad instructor and with every helpful comment under the relationship microscope this is just a bad call from the get go.
Bart Barczynski, GM of Adult Ski & Snowboard School for Whistler Blackcomb sums it up nicely: “We joke around here that even a full-day private lesson is still much cheaper than a divorce. Our relationship with our guests is a student-teacher one, when you are teaching a spouse there are a lot more complications and emotion.”
2. Never Try to Teach Your Spouse How to Ride
We repeat it because it’s that important. Seriously, pay for the lessons. Having said that, once both partners are passed the “total beginner phase” there is a lot of great enjoyment you can have together on the hill. Still, tread lightly even when offering a simple tip here or trick there. Ski slopes can quickly become relationship minefields.
3. Not Every Run is for Everyone
Whistler used to have runs named “Mom’s” and “Dad’s” in the Harmony zone (Mom’s run was generally less moguled and easier to navigate.) The concept behind them was sound it was just the names that needed to be updated– If you want to rip a quick double-black mogul field and your husband isn’t feeling it there’s nothing wrong with doing your own thing and meeting at the lift. Lots of couples do this every single run and sometimes it is nice to chill on a mellow cruiser and enjoy the easy flow.
4. The Half Day
This one is brilliant. If one partner is more in love with powder and supreme-extreme chutes, lines and cliffs there are going to be mornings where each should do their own thing and everyone can meet for lunch and enjoy an afternoon together.
5. Patience and Limits
Less-strong riders will enjoy, and benefit from, tagging along into zones they wouldn’t usually venture into. Be aware of your spouse’s limits and push them. Help them pick safe lines and be supportive when they bail. If you don’t fall, you’re not learning and slide/roll down Pakalolo on Blackcomb can actually be a fun bonding experience if handled correctly.
6. Wine and Dine
Speaking of patience, hungry people don’t have nearly as much of it as people who’ve just enjoyed a couple BBQ’d buffalo burgers on a sunny deck with some wine or frosty beer. Lunch is a great way to rest tired legs and avoid a frustrating afternoon. Even a picnic on the rocks works, just keep the energy up and enjoy the time together. (Note: Wineskins and skiing have a long history of working out just fine).
7. Spring Fling
Being cold sucks, waiting in the cold sucks, and trying new things in a freezing arctic wind sucks even more. Spring skiing is ideal couple’s skiing because the sun is out, the snow is soft and there’s really no hurry to be anywhere else.
Ensure your spouse has decent equipment. The gift of new gear is one that keeps on giving and new technology, especially with skis, really does make the sport easier and more fun. But you don’t need to buy new stuff right away: Whistler Blackcomb often hosts “Demo Days” with lots of the top brands participating and most shops have demo gear they’ll loan out (and sell off cheap towards end of the season).
9. Try and Empathize
It’s totally funny when someone falls and doesn’t hurt themself but make sure your spouse is laughing before you do. Also, don’t drag the love of your life along as third wheel while you rip with your “regular” crew. Generally just try to remember back to when you weren’t as rad as you think you are now. Divorce rates are high enough, and skiing/snowboarding is supposed to be about having fun together. Remember that and have fun. (Also, “Just do it” is not super constructive or helpful.)
10. No Friends on a Pow Day
This still counts. On really epic days, it’s every man, woman and child for themselves. In Whistler, when the skies open up and deliver 20+ cm of powder it’s both acceptable and totally common to say, “I’ll see you at the lodge at 12:30 baby, have fun, I love you!”