Lucky for us, the hockey associations my kids have been involved in have usually taken a break from hockey over the school March Break allowing families to take vacations to sunny destinations or merely to take a break from hockey. While some practices may still be scheduled, they are typically not mandatory, and games have usually not been scheduled during this week. There were years where hockey was a year-round sport in our family but as Kristopher Bras points out in his HockeyNow article, “there is no clear path to greatness.” Our family has decided that our paths to greatness include pursuing other interests and activities.
Each year, we plan a winter getaway from hockey. Much to my dismay, it is not always a sunny destination since my husband is a lifelong avid skier and our kids love to ski and snowboard too. So once again, I packed away my travel brochure for Cancun and packed the hand warmers instead. For the past fourteen winters, we have spent more hours in arenas than on the slopes, but we started out as a ski family, not a hockey family you see, and the mountain still beckons.
This year was a little different in that we planned our March Breakaway from hockey at Mont Tremblant Resort in Quebec, but first my daughter participated in the Leaside Girls Hockey Association’s 36th Annual March Madness Tournament in Toronto, Ontario with her Bantam DS team. She, her teammate Caitlin and I drove the four hours from Ottawa to Toronto to participate in the tournament. Following their elimination from the tournament in an exciting but disappointing shootout loss in the quarterfinals, we drove the four hours back to Ottawa, then quickly traded the hockey bags for the ski bags before continuing on the final two hour drive in our journey to Tremblant to meet up with our families’ ski trip already in progress. It’s not often we can so easily combine hockey and skiing but it the geography worked out well this year. I do know several families who were participating in the tournament and then catching flights to warmer climates. I sincerely hope that will be our plan next year as this winter of 2015—and even these March temperatures in Quebec—have worn out their welcome with me!
Sharpened skates and taped sticks have been traded for tuned skis and ski socks. Hockey helmets and mouthguards have been tossed aside in favour of and ski helmets and goggles. We hit the ski trails with little regard for goals, assists or two-point wins.
Somehow hockey still captivates us and is never far from sight: the hockey families with whom we gather still tune in to watch our beloved Ottawa Senators take on their opponents, someone dons a hockey toque under their ski helmet, and without a doubt we will encounter several hockey fans on the slopes wearing a hockey jersey over their skiwear.
And of course the allure of hot chocolate remains just as strong après-ski as après-hockey.
Three cheers for the home team—even when they’re away!
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