Avid skier, 87, has 60 pairs of skis and lifetime of memories

George Raham still feels joy when he looks out from the top of a skill hill.

For 82 years, he’s been skiing — and collecting more than 60 pairs of skis along the way. He’s never thrown a pair out, so they’re all gathered in what he calls his “ski basement.”

“I’ve just never lost my interest in it,” Raham said.

He lives in the perfect place to keep it up, too. His home, which he shares with his wife, is in Harvie Heights, a hamlet on the outskirts of Canmore in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains.

“I’m still strong on my skis. I feel a lot younger. You know, I’m better on my skis than I am on my feet walking around,” he said. “I still gives me the thrill I got 80 years ago.”

George Raham has more than five dozen pairs of skis, including the pair he used to learn the sport in the 1930s. (Paul Karchut/CBC)

The avid skier, now aged 87, has maintained his love of the sport his entire life. He now competes regularly, with two races planned for this season, and he hits the slopes upward of 50 times each winter.

The whooshing of the wind and sliding of the skis brings a feeling of freedom he remembers from the first time he spotted a skier.

In North Toronto as a five-year-old boy on a toboggan, he came across an athlete standing on a pair of boards and sliding downhill. The concept immediately caught his imagination.

Each of his more than 60 pairs skis holds a memory, but none more than his first pair.

The little red boards are well-worn and no longer have the simple straps that once wrapped over his toes and around the heels of his rubber boots.

Teaching his son

When Raham became a father, one of sons asked to learn the sport, too. Raham taught David with the red skis. 

“It was wonderful for me to see how he took to it, and he took to it beautifully. He had a natural grace on his skis,” Raham said.

For years, the two skied together and took part in the annual Bruno Engler Memorial Race, albeit in different age categories. But David was killed two years ago in a work-related accident, a loss the family feels acutely today.

“It’s something that I miss when I’m out skiing, not having him with me,” Raham said.

George Raham’s first pair of skis, pictured, had straps to secure them to his rubber boots. Technology has certainly improved in the past 82 years. (Paul Karchut/CBC)

Raham’s wife, Marian Raham, said she fondly remembers the two skiing in the Torchlight Parade at Mount Norquay, and having family ski days with both their sons.

“It was just a good family thing. You could go out together and have the day together,” she said. “It was good for everyone, kids included.”

Raham still trains at Norquay with a group called the Rut Runners. His coaches push him to work on his technique, though as the years go by, competition has gotten slimmer.

In the 85-90 age group, there might be two competitors in a given race. Instead, Raham compares his times with those in younger age categories. Sometimes he’s found he tops the 75-80 range.

George Raham is pictured here in the mid to late 1980s with his team for the Over the Hill Down Hill competition series. Most teams had a collective age of 130-140, he said. Theirs was more than 200, giving them an advantage in the age-weighted scoring calculation. (Paul Karchut/CBC)

This year, he plans to compete in the master series at Nakiska and at the Bruno Engler Memorial Race at Mount Norquay.

“My skiing has taught me that if I’m willing to pay the price, I can continue to ski because I do enjoy my skiing a great deal. It’s kept me young, it kept me on my feet,” Raham said. “I feel a sense of vigor from my skiing and it helps me stay young, think young and be young.”

And things have changed since those early years. His skis used to have no edges or base. They had to be waxed so frequently, he’d bring a bar of soap to the top of the hill. Before flying down the hill, he’d have to soap up the boards.

“By the time you got down to the bottom, all the soap was gone but the ski ran beautifully,” Raham said.

George Raham started competing in the 1980s at age 55. He’s continued racing, and has two more competitions planned this year. (Paul Karchut/CBC)

Once he clocked 93 km/h in downhill, but in practice, he aims to learn to be safe rather than fast.

His wife stopped skiing about 20 years ago, she said, after a few close calls with snowboarders.

Still, her husband puts in anywhere from 30 to 50 days, mostly during weekdays to beat the crowds.

And in the summer, he still finds a way to enjoy in the beautiful mountain landscape.

“There’s nothing like riding a motorcycle for giving you a sense of freedom,” Raham said. “I get that same sense of freedom on my skis when I’m carving a hill.”

Listen to the Calgary Eyeopener’s visit to Raham’s ski basement:

The Eyeopener’s Paul Karchut introduces us to ski racer George Raham, 87, who has every pair of skis he’s ever owned. 4:32

With files from Monty Kruger, Paul Karchut and the Calgary Eyeopener.



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Sherwood Park

Sherwood Park is a large hamlet in Alberta, Canada within Strathcona County that is recognized as an urban service area.[7] It is located adjacent to the City of Edmonton’s eastern boundary,[8] generally south of Highway 16 (Yellowhead Trail), west of Highway 21 and north of Highway 630 (Wye Road).[9] Other portions of Sherwood Park extend beyond Yellowhead Trail and Wye Road, while Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) separates Refinery Row to the west from the balance of the hamlet to the east.[9]

Sherwood Park was established in 1955 on farmland of the Smeltzer family, east of Edmonton. With a population of 70,618 in 2016,[6] Sherwood Park has enough people to be Alberta’s seventh largest city, but technically retains the status of a hamlet. The Government of Alberta recognizes the Sherwood Park Urban Service Area as equivalent to a city.

History

Sherwood Park, originally named Campbelltown, was founded by John Hook Campbell and John Mitchell in 1953 when the Municipal District of Strathcona No. 83 approved their proposed development of a bedroom community east of Edmonton. The first homes within the community were marketed to the public in 1955. Canada Post intervened on the name of Campbelltown due to the existence of several other communities in Canada within the same name, so the community’s name was changed to Sherwood Park in 1956.
Geography

The Sherwood Park Urban Service Area is located in the Edmonton Capital Region along the western edge of central Strathcona County adjacent to the City of Edmonton.[8] The majority of the community is bound by Highway 16 (Yellowhead Highway) to the north, Highway 21 to the east, Highway 630 (Wye Road) to the south, and Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) to the west. The Refinery Row portion of Sherwood Park is located across Anthony Henday Drive to the west, between Sherwood Park Freeway and Highway 16. Numerous developments fronting the south side of Wye Road, including Wye Gardens, Wye Crossing, Salisbury Village and the Estates of Sherwood Park, are also within the community. Lands north of Highway 16 and south of Township Road 534/Oldman Creek between Range Road 232 (Sherwood Drive) to the west and Highway 21 to the east are also within the Sherwood Park urban service area.

Originally posted 2018-12-11 04:52:13. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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