Get your elbows up

The ski swap happens every year. I’ve never been. I don’t know why, maybe because I always wake up too late on the Saturday of the swap, and I’ve heard that it’s not worth going unless you get there early.

In fact, I used Facebook and text messages to crowd-source tips for a novice navigating the ski swap, and arriving early was a top tip. Local ski-lover and gear aficionado Jeffrey Pike advised me through a Facebook message: “Go early. Really early. Like 7am early.”

Hannah Zimmering, an avid cross country skier, and a person who is good at waking up early, responded to my call-out for tips with a text message which said, “Someone who is serious about the ski swap pitches a tent the night before.”

She means in the parking lot of the curling club, so they’re first in line.

I have terrible memories of shopping at second-hand gear sales with my mom and grandma, who passed on their love of snow sports to me. It seemed like we spent hours in church basements with boots, skis, jackets and backpacks cluttering around. I remember hunger, having to pee, being jostled by the crowd and too hot with my winter jacket on.

It sounds like the ski swap is similar to this. Pike also advised, “Research prior to the event. It’s not a good time to browse.”

Mike Fancie is another local who responded to my callout. Also through Facebook, he said, “Plan ahead and stay focused. Know what you need vs. what you want and prioritize your search accordingly.”

George Maratos, a person who doesn’t spend much time skiing, nonetheless offered advice. Following a Black Friday GIF which showed shoppers trampling each other, he wrote, “Know what you want going in.”

The GIF is hyperbolic, there’s no trampling at the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club Ski Swap and Winter Fair. But it does have a reputation for reckless shoppers. In a further description of a person who is serious about the swap, Zimmering wrote, “they put up fake posters around town with the wrong date to throw off competitors and they aren’t afraid to throw elbows.”

The reason the swap has this reputation must be because all the good second hand gear is in one enclosed place for a short amount of time, and we live in Whitehorse, which has no permanent establishment devoted to supplying the demand for used gear.

Amy O’Rourke, who is a skier and snowboarder and an excellent person to turn to for information on gear of any kind, touched on this with her advice. Through text message she wrote: “Stay calm, focus on one area/thing you want, be prepared to get fed up and find your things through the buy and sell instead!”

There are multiple buy and sell pages on Facebook. The obvious drawback to these forums is you must devote your attention to the screen until you find what you want.

I think the merits of the swap is – if shoppers stay calm and courteous – it builds community. Fancie wrote, “Be nice. We all know skis are expensive, but the person in line ahead of you is your neighbour for the other 364 days of the year. Good karma goes a long way in Yukon.”

It also supports the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club. A percentage of the sale’s income goes toward the club.

Finally, it’s tradition. Even though I’ve never been, just knowing that it’s going on triggers my snow fever. It lasts til spring.

Go to bed early on Friday, Oct. 14. Take some cash out from the bank machine (another one of Mike Fancie’s tips), write a list of the things you really need. Doors open at nine, but it sounds like there will be people lining up before then. The swap runs til noon. It takes place at the Mt. McIntyre Recreation Centre, in the Grey Room.

To drop off gear: do so on Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 12 and 13, between 4 and 7 pm at the Wax Room at Mt. McIntyre.

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