Doris Pierson wins gold on the slopes at Winterfest senior games

Finishes fifth among all age group categories

By Terrance Gavan

I’ve been watching Doris Pierson ski for about 9 years now.

She was a marvel to watch when I arrived here back in 2002; because she was well, 71, and she skied with an abandon that was at once fluid, graceful and concise.

She’s 80 now, and still skiing at Sir Sam’s Ski Area and Summer Resort.

The grace is still there in those precise, practiced turns.

Gravity is essential in the sport of alpine. Doris Pierson has been defying gravity both literally and figuratively since the early 1940’s.

She did it again last week, winning the over-75 women’s alpine ski event in the Winterfest 2011 games.

She was part of a Haliburton Highlands’ contingent – with Bill Lithgow, silver in the over 55, and Victor Ettel, gold in the over 65 – who dominated in the skiing events at Sir Sam’s. Ralph Burchert, who skied with North York, edged out Lithgow for the over 55 gold, but we’ll claim him too, because Ralphie is a member of the Sir Sam’s racing fraternity and has called Sir Sam’s home for over a decade.

Doris Pierson not only won her own event, she finished fifth overall among all alpine competitors.

That’s some pretty impressive racing, a nice slide, and a terse commentary on Pierson’s own commitment to gravity management.

Not surprising, because Doris Pierson seems immune to the pitfalls of gravity.

She is trim, fit, and looks more 55 than 80.

If the senior games went looking for a poster girl for these games they could do worse than showcase Pierson, who has become a fixture – with husband Gord – at Sir Sam’s and around Eagle Lake over the last 35 years.

Doris is not one of those Dixie debutantes who struggle with age, lines and the rising price of botox.

In fact, she’s quite forthcoming about who she is. She wears those years on her sleeve.

“Oh, I’m 80, born Dec. 15, 1930,” says Doris. She maintains that age is a state of mind, so no use denying. Quite the opposite. “When you get to my age it’s time to start bragging.”

She started skiing when she was 13, at a little hill called Raglan. That was back in 1943. Tow rope and small slope.

“I skied in a few downhill races when the Oshawa Ski Club moved to Kirby, and we skied with the Oshawa club and in 1975 we bought this place (in Eagle Lake),” says Pierson. “We bought it for the skiing and the lake and we retired here in 1986.”

From 1975 to ’86 they skied weekends and holidays, and since 1986 Doris and Gord have been entrenched members of the Sir Sam’s family.

“We skied every weekend and started participating in the races,” she adds. That developed into a real love affair with skiing for both Doris and Gord. They’ve shared much over the years.

And their joint love for alpine skiing is inspirational for old and young alike at Sir Sam’s.

Doris decided to share her love of skiing with incoming skiers at Sir Sam’s and received her Level II instructors certificate in 1993. “I just decided to find out what kind of skier I was; took the course; and I passed,” says Doris. She taught in the Sir Sam’s Ski School for many years. She continued to race in the Sir Sam’s Challenge races. “They had races, and I entered,” she says. “I never had any formal race training, but heaven knows I’ve had fun.”

She says that she really enjoyed the Winterfest experience. She met a lot of people from all over Ontario who really, really love to ski. Indeed one woman drove by herself from Kapuskasing – 13 hours one way – competed on Wednesday and Thursday and headed back to the Kap on Thursday afternoon.

Doris says she wants to make sure to thank the Sir Sam’s family who came out to support her in her quest for gold. “I did appreciate the support I got from Walt (McKechnie – son in law) and Suzanne (McKechnie – daughter) who were there for the races; and all the support I received from my friends at the hill,” says Doris. “I’d also like to thank the games’ committee who were all very organized.”

And as another winter slowly draws to a close, Doris is already planning a new fitness regimen.

Right beside our Voice offices on the lower level of V and S Steadman’s is a new spinning gym.

Spinning, for the uninitiated, is a trending fitness regimen that incorporates stationary bikes. “I love to run, but I can’t do that anymore, so I’d like to try the new spinning class,” says Doris. The spinning room is opening soon and it’s a low impact resource that’s garnering interest from all demographics including seniors.

Doris Pierson says an active lifestyle keeps her young.

“My first love is skiing, but I’m always looking for new activities,” she says.

And if there are lessons we can take from these senior winter games?

Don’t ask me.

Have a chat with Doris Pierson.

You can find her at Sir Sam’s… or, at a spinning class near you.