Posted by: Bob Fisher | May 16, 2009

Zen Skiing at Sun Peaks, with Senator Nancy Greene

headphonesymbol50… Chatting with Nancy Greene

Skiing as an environmental activity

In many ways every sport is both a private-personal and public activity. However even though we may be engaged in a physical activity that we love, surrounded by kindred spirits, we are still very much in our own space. And a component of that space is often our timeless and out of time state of mind. This is part of the “Zen” experience of being quietly focussed; a mindfulness of how fully connected we can be to the energy that is both process and product of the human “play” in which we are engaged.

Human play — usually referred to as sport — is often underestimated in terms of its physical and mental skill development, its potential for achieving self-determination, and its role in connecting us through our senses (including the sense of self) to the world around us.

In skiing (both alpine and cross-country), the sport takes on a meditative quality; the senses are awakened and the distractions and tumult of daily life are far away. At those moments we get a glimpse of the ideal. The physicality and the aesthetics of such moments are once again a mini-awakening. Life feels good.

I have experienced a number of wonderful ski resorts (and such Zen-like moments), but in terms of the carefully managed natural environment, I have rarely experienced that holistic sense to the same extent as I did recently at Sun Peaks, a very family-friendly resort in the interior of British Columbia.

Where people and the natural setting blend

There is a certain amount of geological and topographical serendipity that makes this area so engaging, including its three mountains huddled around a bowl-like matrix — and only 45 minutes north of Kamloops, a hub destination in itself!

Whether you go to Sun Peaks for winter skiing (alpine and dedicated cross-country and snowshoeing trails), dogsledding, or for summer activities such as hiking (extensive trails), mountain biking, horseback riding, or the golf course that meanders throughout a landscape which has been artfully preserved, you will feel a genuine sense of integration. The latter is always a significant challenge when resort properties are developed.

When I visit such properties, I am always on the lookout for tell-tale “indicators” — physical details, human interaction, or even little rituals that suggest an interconnected and cohesive human environment. This is very true of Sun Peaks.

And if you ever get to ski with Nancy Greene, you will have no difficulty understanding why the human element at Sun Peaks is always a priority. In many ways she is Sun Peaks; interacting with her “guests” and offering skiing tips, points of view, and conversation wherever she happens to be throughout the resort.

But the indicator that I found the most revealing in terms of a sense of belonging to the community of Sun Peaks was the spruce and fir trees on the slopes that are decorated by the resort’s regular visitors who, on their own initiative and in their own good time, trek up the slopes, choose a tree and embellish it. No one seems to know how this ritual got started or when, but there is no better example of the Sun Peaks human touch, which has been consistently maintained at the resort.

The Sun Peaks glade skiing experience

I am not of the hell-bent-for-leather school of alpine skiing although I do value the vigorous adrenaline + endorphin natural high that it can evoke. Both are inherent in Sun Peaks where the natural environment of the mountains has been carefully maintained; especially the runs in which conifers have not been removed but instead have been blended into the overall scheme of things.

These well-thought-out design features are also a good indicator of how the resort has preserved a “smart growth” policy and a cohesive environment in which sensory and aesthetics elements are always a top priority.

Catching up with Nancy

Although I didn’t tell her so at the time, I had not skied downhill in over a year and half; I had every intention of not making a fool of myself, especially as I knew from the moment I arrived at Sun Peaks that it was going to be a great photo op.

Fortunately, when you ski with Nancy, you really don’t have much choice other than to follow the leader, go with the flow, and ski to your heart’s content.

And at the end of a run, if she asks, “How was that?” you can assume the question is rhetorical.

Other resources and video

Watch a brief video of skiing a glade run with Nancy.

If you have never gone dogsledding (something you can do at Sun Peaks:, you have missed one of life’s great small adventures.

Watch a short video of dogsledding at Sun Peaks.

Pay a virtual visit to Sun Peaks..

Visit Nancy Greene’s website.


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