I eat, sleep, and breathe skiing and if you’re reading this you probably do too. I’ve learned that every day spent on snow is a good day, no matter the context. Skiing is my identity and in this introduction, I’ll call it ‘Episode I’ of my series ‘Ski Days Beat No Days’ . Episode by Episode I’ll recount my experiences on snow that have shaped the person I have become.

I grew up skiing at a small, icy bump in southern Ontario called Devil’s Elbow. With 110 fierce vertical meters, I skied to the point of exhaustion every weekend from the age of three to 16. From the first chair, until the lifties were packing up. I skied with my friends, my team, and my family, and Devil’s Elbow became my second home. I knew nothing else, just the freedom and satisfaction of skiing. I didn’t know there were mountains with gondolas, mid-stations, multiple lifts, and kilometres to ski. I had a lot to learn.

Gillian Ski Racing t Devil's Elbow, ON, Canada | Photo Courtesy of Gillian Hague
Gillian Ski Racing at Beaver Valley Resort, 2012 | Photo Courtesy of Gillian Hague

Fast forward, I have found my way around the world and today I am set to begin my tenth season as a ski instructor. As a university student in Canada, gigs as a ski instructor provided pocket money and time on the snow while struggling through a busy school schedule. Upon graduation, being just another lost undergrad student with no plan, I knew I belonged in the mountains. So, I packed up my Canadian life to travel and work as a ski instructor in Japan, Australia, and Germany. These countries are so amazingly different in their own ways, as you’ll discover throughout the ‘Ski Days Beat No Days’ series.

Gil sporting the Instructor Uniform in Kandahar-Abfahrt, Germany, Feb, 2020 | Photo Couresy of Gillian Hague
Gil sporting the instructor uniform in Kandahar-Abfahrt, Germany, Feb, 2020 | Photo Couresy of Gillian Hague

As an instructor, I am on snow every day. I know, it sounds incredibly glamorous, but there can be difficult days too. The majority of us ski instructors predominantly spend time in the beginner area, or more specifically “kids land”. Watching others rip past can stir feelings of envy as the only burn in my legs comes from hours in a snow plow. Creativity, flexibility, and positivity are necessary to help allow the student to develop skills and confidence simultaneously. The learning curve varies for every individual but when I am there to witness the flame for the sport ignite, I feel that I am the lucky one.

Ski Instructing | Photo Courtesy of Gillian Hague
Gillian Instructing at Niseko Village Resort, Japan, 2019 | Photo Courtesy of Gillian Hague

As we’ve all noticed the ski industry has been massively affected by COVID-19. For me, it hit in two separate ways. Traveling back to Australia to teach bounced off the table, which came as a huge disappointment. Now I’m sitting in Garmisch, Germany with static chairlifts, locked down with no way to get up the hill but with my own two legs. When the first snowfall hit, it was time to strap the skis to my back and boot pack up. I have never been into touring, but earning my turns brings a new feeling of satisfaction and the only possible way for skiers in Europe to enjoy the early season snow. 

Gillian Instructing in Japan | Photo Courtesy of Gillian Hague
Boot Packing up the Resort, Garmisch-Patenkirchen, Germany, 2020 | Photo Credit: Joop Herrmann

I could write about all of the “best days ever”, the goggle deep powder days, the feeling of pure freedom or the best friends I’ve made along the way, but that would make this article too long. Follow my series to learn more about my experiences around the world. From the baby bumps, to the hard hikes, to the magic moments come rain or shine, no matter how cold my toes get or wet my layers become, with skis on my feet, and snow on the ground, I’m the happiest person I could be. There are no better days than snowy ones.

Gillian touring in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, 2020 | Photo Credit: Joop Herrmann

6 Comments

  • Alexandra Costello, January 7, 2021 @ 11:01 am Reply

    So great!! My 12 year old daughter just told me she wants to be a ski instructor when she grows up and I can’t wait for her to read this and follow your series!!! Thanks for sharing your adventures – awaiting instalment #2….

    • Aimee Dodge, January 8, 2021 @ 8:05 am Reply

      We love that! Can’t wait to get out there and ski with you both!

  • Peter Budreo, January 7, 2021 @ 1:17 pm Reply

    Nice article Gil. Both you and Geoff have come a long way with your skiing from your racing days at The Elbow.

  • Hank, January 7, 2021 @ 4:04 pm Reply

    Great article and thanks for sharing your adventures and life with us!

  • Sheila Fennell, January 7, 2021 @ 5:57 pm Reply

    Gillian!! I loved reading this article!! Your dad proudly reposted it! This is Sheila…your first ski instructor/coach!! Your were the cutest little carver, so determined to ski in any conditions, thru your foggy glasses and goggles and hopping on/off the chair even tho you were way below the height limit! Nothing ever stopped you. I’m so happy to see you are loving life and skiing and still teaching your gift on snow. Happy turns xox

  • Kerri, January 7, 2021 @ 7:13 pm Reply

    Great article. Those who close the hill…mountain…have skiing in their soul.

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