MOUNTAIN LIFE - Blue Mountains | Fall 2018

words :: Kristin Schnelten “I can’t believe how many people on the chairlift ask how old I am,” Mary Trillo giggles. “I tell every one of them I’m 100. ” Her friend Louisa Vaillancourt lets out a belly laugh that almost sends her careening off her chair. These two women and their stories are keeping me in stitches. (And I’ll save you from embarrassment on the lift; they’re both 84.) We’ve gathered to talk skiing, life and Blue Mountain, and the anecdotes are flying fast. Louisa’s brother fashioned her first skis from an old sauerkraut barrel. She once hiked five hours into the Alps to train with the Austrian ski team and spent days above treeline, sleeping in barns, with schnapps and speck to keep them warm. Mary learned to ski in the gully of a vacant Toronto lot, then rode the streetcar to ski a local golf club. Both women discovered Blue, barn dances, and sing-songs in the late 1950s, indulging in late- night partying at the men’s lodging house, the floor gummy with years of spilt beer. Both met their husbands while skiing, raised families of skiers, and travelled the world to ski. Although they both built homes here in the early 1960s and retired to the area years ago, it wasn’t until recently that the two met, through mutual friends. Their gratitude for each other’s company is palpable, particularly as they describe so many of their peers slowing down or leaving the sport behind. Louisa beams at her friend. “I’m so glad I found you, Mary,” she says. “I would have given up skiing—I had nobody left to ski with.” Louisa and Mary now head up the hill together five days a week, every week, in all conditions. (Although Mary admits to waiting until the temperature warms a bit on the coldest days, saying, “You’ve got all day; why kill yourself?”) They stick to the North Chair, where the steeper runs offer them the speed they crave. Louisa remembers, “I used to win every Downhill race; it was my favourite. I was no good at Slalom—my equipment was never good enough. 82 ML BLUE FALL 2018 There’s simply no room for complaints in their world. The skiing culture that brings so many of us together is what these two both embrace and embody… FAST FRIENDS Two women reflect on seven daring decades on skis MOUNTAIN LIFERS LEFT Louisa Vaillancourt. ABOVE Mary Trillo. KRISTIN SCHNELTEN