I'll admit that I've always kind of sucked at downhill skiing. I had a few good runs back in the day, when I was a little sixth grader shooting down Missoula's now defunct Marshall Mountain ski area. But I was never good enough to successfully navigate bumpy moguls at Discovery, or deft enough with my poles to bust some slick turns down that vertical slice of downhill insanity known as Montana Snowbowl. I commend all of you out there who can shred that mountain without biffing it. Really, I do.
If you're in my boat, and you're a woman who'd like to hone your skills in order to become the shredder that everybody envies, start this week by signing up for Montana Snowbowl's For Women Only ski lessons, which run from 1–4 PM Fri., Jan. 8, and continue each Friday afternoon for six weeks. $185 if you'd like lessons with a half-day lift ticket, or $119 if you're a pass holder. Click over to montanasnowbowl.com for a detailed description, and ring 549-9777 to sign up.
Later on Fri., Jan. 8, you can see powder porn on the screen whilst enjoying a Cold Smoke or two during the Cold Smoke People's Choice Awards, which starts at 8 PM at the Badlander and offers a chance to peep hair-raising ski movies like Swift Silent Deep and Magic Moments. $2, with hot DJ action from Monty Carlo following the films. Visit coldsmokeawards.com.
On Sat., Jan. 9, those of you who find excitement shooting through your body at the sight of avians ought to feed the need like the birding junkie you are with a free half-day field trip to Maclay Flat with the Five Valley's Audubon Society. Meet at the Maclay Flat parking lot at 10 AM, where experts with the society will guide you towards nirvana with raptors, or something like that. Visit fvamissoula.org.
While birds might not sizzle the cockles of your heart, running probably does the trick in more ways than one. If so, take a short trip up to the Flathead on Sat., Jan. 9 for the Jingle Bell Jog, a 5k run/walk sponsored by Polson Running which starts at 10 AM at Century 21 Big Sky Real Estate in Polson, 119 Anchor Way. $15 per person, with a Polson Running polar fleece ear warmer included. Not enticed? Here's another kicker: It's a fundraiser for Layne Lozeau, a local 6-year-old who suffers from adrenoleukodystrophy, a rare genetic disorder. Visit polsonrunning.com to download a registration form.
Our next event on Sat., Jan. 9 offers you the opportunity to bust out vintage Tonya Harding-esque axel jumps—sans embroiling yourself in a national scandal—during It's Great to Skate–Bring a Friend Day, a free ice skating event sponsored by the Missoula Figure Skating Club which runs from 10–11:30 AM at the Glacier Ice Rink, 1101 South Ave. W. Besides free time on the ice, you can snag prizes as well as skating tips from experts. Find out more by visiting missoulafsc.org or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you've been in hibernation mode lately, perhaps due to some overindulgence of "adult soda" and food during the holidays, I'd recommend bonding with your child Sat., Jan. 9 by taking them to find out why other animals hibernate for months on end during Hibernation Celebration, an activity for children ages 5 and older that starts at 2 PM at the Montana Natural History Center, 120 Hickory St. $2/free for MNHC members. Expect to be bombarded, in a good way, with facts about how animals of all types adapt to frigid winter temps. Visit montananaturalist.org.
Mon., Jan. 11 offers yet another opp for you to activate your bird appreciation glands when the Five Valleys Audubon Society hosts presentations/discussions by wildlife photog Tad Lubinski and UM ecology/biology student Patrick Rhea during its chapter meeting at 7:30 PM, in Room L14 of UM's Gallagher Business Building. Free. Grab more details by downloading the club's newsletter at fvamissoula.org.
If heartbeats, damp feet and heavy breathing excite you, then skip the birding lectures to score running tips from an expert when Anders Brooker presents the talk "Can You Start from Zero and Still Run the Missoula Marathon or Half Marathon?" from 7–8 PM at the Good Food Store, 1600 S. Third St. W. Free. Visit runwildmissoula.org.
Perhaps pedaling titillates you even more. In that case, you should bike over to the Adventure Cycling Association, 150 E. Pine St., at 7 PM on Tue., Jan. 12 to snag a warm seat for the January edition of the Missoulians on Bicycles monthly meeting. Upcoming spring rides is the chief topic of this discussion, which is free to attend. Visit missoulabike.org.
The longstanding rift between ursines and canids wash over your eyes on Wed., Jan. 13 at 7 PM at the Montana Natural History Center, 120 Hickory St., during a screening of Clash: Encounters Between Bears and Wolves, a film by Emmy award winning cinematographer Bob Landis. A Q&A session with Landis follows, so don't sleep on this one. $4 suggested donation/free for MNHC members.
Yet another event competes for your attention Wed., Jan. 13: those boulder scramblers known as the Rocky Mountaineers host their January meeting at 7 PM at Pipestone Mountaineering, 129 W. Front St. Expect a presentation by Smoke Elser on the Bob Marshall Wilderness, as well as talk about upcoming trips. Free. Visit rockymountaineers.com.
Finally, at 7:30 PM on Thu., Jan. 14, you can round out your week by listening to biologist Kristi Dubois and her husband Bert Lindler discuss our neighbor to the far east during the talk "Natural History of the Gambia of West Africa" in Room L09 of UM's Gallagher Business Building. Free. Visit mtnativeplants.org.
For now, I'm now down and out like sauerkraut 'til next time, y'all.