If you need a good reason to get out on the slopes and learn how to ski or snowboard, all you have to do is talk to Abi Guerra, whose embraced Alberta winters in three short years after moving to Canada from Mexico City.
After her first ever ski and snowboard lessons within a couple of weeks of each other at Calgary’s WinSport, Guerra is hooked – mainly on skiing – but she’s also keen to get back on the snowboard again.
“Oh, I love the winter in Calgary,” she says. “We lived in Vancouver for a year, and even though many people love Vancouver, it’s not my weather. I love the sun. Who cares if it’s -16? It’s sunny. It gives me energy.”
That’s what motivated her to try skiing and snowboarding at Canada’s 1988 Olympics venue and Calgary’s only urban ski hill.
“I was super-excited to try. I have seen everyone doing it in Canada.” She wanted to try both skiing and snowboarding to see which one she would like better. Although both experiences were positive, she’s decided skiing will be her go-to sport. Her husband, Troy Fyhn, meanwhile, is gravitating to snowboarding.
Her WinSport instructor, Rei Aoi, made Guerra put her at ease. “She was super-patient and was a super-nice person. She kept telling me I’m doing really good.”
Aoi, who grew up skiing in Japan moved to Canada from Japan in 2012. Once here, she took to snowboarding and became a ski and snowboard instructor at WinSport this year. Teaching people new to boarding or skiing makes her happy. She says people like Guerra keep her job fun. “She did a great job.”
“When they get it that makes me really happy,” says Aoi. “It’s a very exciting job. You can just see … they have a hard time at first– and all of sudden they get it.”
Aoi instantly sees the moment one of her students has put the skills together to make a turn or learn how to stop, and she says, “Yes! That’s what I’m talking about!”
Aoi says she learns as much from her students as they do from her. She calls it a “skill exchange,” learning about people’s backgrounds and honing her English along the way. “I’m teaching but I’m also learning from everybody.”
Guerra says she has Canadian friends who ski, but she’s on a mission to get her Mexican friends out on the slopes. “I think they should all try it. Everyone should do it once in their life.”
Then there is the added bonus of just being outside on a sunny Alberta day. “I feel free when I feel the fresh air on my face, and I enjoy the views of the mountains. It’s just awesome.”
Immigrant Services Calgary (ISC) and SnowSeekers are proud sponsors of #NewSKiAB - to welcome newcomers to Alberta and promote diversity in winter adventures. Read more about this #NewSkiAB story here