February 20, 2024

I enter the main floor of the lodge to find my skiing partners for the afternoon. They have 101 years of age between the two of them—Muriel Watterworth with 99, and Huxley Derksen with 2. 

Now, many of you have heard of Muriel, the 98 (now 99) year-old skier who inspired us all to hit the slopes and stay active as we age. Well this year, her close friend Joy set up some ski dates between Muriel and Huxley, who at age 2 is possibly the youngest skier on these slopes.

I was lucky enough to be invited along to ski with these two shredders, as well as Tim Derksen—Huxley’s dad (and also his official ski-harness holder!)

Muriel & Huxley (Left), Muriel & Alex, article author (Right)

As we (Muriel, Hux, Tim, and I) head up the quad lift for the first time, I ask Muriel what she thinks of sharing the chair and slopes with Huxley, who is 97 years her junior. 

“Well I think he’s just a miracle. Though I am biased – he has been a miracle ever since the day he was born.” This is not the first time they have skied together; their close family connections and shared love of hitting the slopes is evident. 

Rounding the bullwheel at the top of the chair, Huxley sees the exposed grassy slopes on the back-side and points. “Ride there?” he asks jokingly. 

“No, you’re being silly! We are going to ski on the snow!” Tim reminds him. As an aside to Muriel and I, “He made that joke last time we were here too.” 

We head down Old Road, Muriel making her signature perfect turns as Huxley leans forward in his tiny skis and follows. Tim controls Huxley’s speed and direction with the aid of a ski harness. 

As we ski down, we notice Huxley watching Muriel closely, trying to turn left and right at the same time that she does. It is clear that she is an inspiration for seniors and toddlers (and everyone else) alike!

Huxley watches Muriel to learn how to time his turns

Heading up the chair again, I ask Huxley what his favourite part of skiing is. Tim replies “He’s pretty shy, I don’t know if he’s going to ans-” “Applesauce!” Huxley interrupts. 

“Your favourite part of skiing is applesauce?” Tim clarifies. 

“Yeah! Applesauce ski!” 

“Great, I don’t think we have ever had skiing applesauce before, but we will make sure to bring some next time we are here”. The chairload of people is chuckling now. (As we round the bullwheel Huxley again points at the grassy backside. “Ride there!” Kid’s got jokes!)

Muriel zooms down Old Road again; when Tim and Huxley catch up with her at the top of the Snowflake carpet, Tim shouts “Hey Muriel, hi-five!” Huxley’s hand is up in anticipation. Muriel looks at it curiously. Tim again encourages “Hi five? Maybe a fist bump?” 

“Oh I don’t know if I know all these moves.” Muriel replies, but a fist bump is eventually figured out and the gang again zooms back down the rest of the hill. (To be fair, Tim points out, the first high five was initiated in 1977, when Muriel was already in her 50’s!)

A successful fist-bump between Muriel and Huxley

On our next ride up the chairlift, I ask Muriel about her recent brush with fame. The previous article garnered significant attention and Muriel’s story was picked up by CTV News, the Canada Ski Council, Zoomer magazine, and was viewed as far away as Japan & Hawaii.

“It’s wonderful! I met so many people and they all know my name. I don’t know who they are, but it’s delightful. I have met so many new people and it is really fun.” She continues “People will find me in the lift line and ask ‘are you 99?’ so I just say ‘well I was the last time I checked!’”

I also ask her about skiing this year. “It’s great! I still try to get out a couple of times a week – sometimes just once. I just love it. I wish I didn’t have to come off the hill, but I get tired and I always know when I have to rest. Such is life!”

Tim, Huxley, and Muriel prepare for another run down the hill

Our quartet heads back down and Muriel again watches Huxley. “Isn’t he just wonderful! So brave and fearless and relaxed”, she muses. Tim told me that the first time he and Huxley watched a ski video together, Huxley pointed at the people flying through the air on jumps saying “Hux do that!” Fearless indeed. 

Near the bottom of the hill, Huxley sees his mom, baby sibling, Joy, and another friend of Muriel’s waving from the Snow Valley patio. We angle in to grab a hot chocolate. Sipping our drinks and looking out over the hill, several generations of skiers and snowboarders are all engaged in lively conversation. At one point, Tim turns to me and says “you know, as an adult, I never really got the whole Snow Valley thing, but now that I have kids, wow do I ever get it.” 

I look at the crew assembled around the table—some members of the Rocky Mountain Seniors Ski Club, their family, a 99 year old inspiration, and a 2 year old tot who fearlessly shreds the slopes and is ready to join the next generation of skiers—and I realize that, surrounded by community, friendship, warm drinks and a love of winter, everyone else here gets “whole Snow Valley thing” too.

Generations of skiers and riders gather in the Snow Valley lodge for laughs, stories, and hot chocolate

Want more of Muriel and Huxley? SnowSeekers author (and Tim’s brother) Jeremy shares his own story about skiing with Muriel and Huxley here.