Euphoria Isn’t a State of Mind, It’s a Tradition…

The run is called Euphoria but when many people stand at the top of it, the last emotion is that of intense happiness or self-confidence. It’s a typical black diamond run at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort overlooking the town of Golden B.C. But it’s bumpy and steep and like many runs, it’s intimidating.  And that’s why for almost an entire season, either my husband or I would ski past it as we followed our youngest on her quest to learn to ski. We were stuck in the ruts on the ten-kilometre-long green run that meanders from the top to the bottom.

View of Kicking Horse Gondola Base

Every ride up the gondola we’d look out the window or peer at the map and try to entice her onto the blue runs. Nope.

“Let’s go down Wiley Coyote and see if Boo is wandering in the snow.”

“No. He’s hibernating,” she would retort.

“Let’s go down Show Off and wave at the gondolas.”




Kicking Horse is not an easy resort to learn to ski on. With over 1300 vertical metres of primarily advanced or expert terrain, the last thing Jeff or I wanted to do is make either of our kids hate the sport we love. Our goal was to groom our kids into liking some of the activities we do so that as the years went by and they grew into teens and young adults we would still have a family activity.

Charting the kids’ growth at Euphoria. Photos Joanne Elves

So, we left the reins in her hands. And suddenly, our route down the hill changed. She saw some boys pop down what looked like a funnel into a narrow trail through the trees. It was into Golden Spike – a double black diamond chute where taller skiers bounce like a pinball. She sailed through like it was a bouncy castle.

“Bonnie! That was a black diamond!”

She stared at her dad through her goggles with disbelief. Her lips clamped shut and her head shook a solid no. We were back on her favourite green run and continued past Euphoria snowploughing to the bottom.

Stopping for hot chocolate, Jeff pulled out a map to discover Golden Spike is listed as a double black. Bonnie stopped sucking the whipped cream from her mug and said, “It should be called the Toilet Bowl because it is white and it tosses you around like a turd.”

That was music to her brother’s ears. So much for my bouncy castle analogy.

The next run had her leading Clay into the “Toilet Bowl” and around a corner to stop at the sign for Euphoria.

“This is only one black diamond. So, I can do it,” she said as she plunged over the lip behind Clay.

What just happened! From green to black with no fear on her part! It wasn’t pretty but she made her way down. Suddenly we were skiing as a family. Not just getting to the hill and meeting for lunch. We skied and still to this day, ski as a unit. I used to follow to make sure everyone got down safely, but like the legendary ski movie creator, Warren Millar once said, “Exactly one day in your life your kids will ski as good as you do. The next day, he’ll ski better than you.” He’s right, I struggle to keep up. But wasn’t that the plan all along?

Even with family stretching across the western provinces with “plus ones” we still make it to Kicking Horse at least one weekend each winter. The mid-morning hot chocolates have changed to Americano. The après ski is still over pizza from Red Tomato Pies but now it’s shared over pints at White Tooth Brewery.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the stop at the top of Euphoria for the traditional family photo. As my family charges confidently ahead of me, I listen to other people contemplate the moguls and smile to myself and pause. Euphoria isn’t just a sign, a photo op or a run for me. It’s my euphoria.