Now Or Never

Trevor Dineen: Why this radio host doesn't skate

Everyone I know wants to slip on the skates and hit up their local rink to take part in Canada's favourite pastime. There’s only one tiny problem with that: I don’t skate.
Let it be known: Trevor Dineen is not a skater. (CBC / Andrew Friesen)

By Now or Never host Trevor Dineen

Winter has officially arrived in Winnipeg.

The snow has started to fall, warmth is a distant memory and almost everyone I know is itching to slip on their skates and take part in Canada's favourite pastime. 

There's only one tiny problem with that — I don't skate.

Cue gasps, groans and maybe one huffy pshaw. And now, with that out of the way, let me try to explain.

The year was 1987.

Brian Mulroney was the prime minister. Michael Jackson was as bad as ever. And nobody and — I mean nobody — was putting baby in a corner.

Canada had just won the Canada Cup with the help of two future nobodies by the names of Wayne and Mario. You can find them on the Google if you look hard enough.

At this point, it seemed like every kid in Winnipeg wanted to be a hockey player. So when my father decided to make a rink in our backyard that winter, I knew my dreams of being a CBC Radio host were going to have to be put on hold.

Young Trevor Dineen, on right, doesn't mind the snow - just don't ask him to skate. (Submitted by Carol Dineen)

Up until this point, my career as a professional skater was in full swing. 

You see, earlier that year, my parents had signed me up for skating lessons — or as I like to call it, "the place where Dad stopped loving me."

Once a week, I would go sit in the front entrance area of the Vimy Arena in Winnipeg. My father would crouch down, his face lit up as bright as his Craven A cigarette, and lace up my skates.

I still don't understand why they make skate laces so long. Five times around my ankles? Really!?

I can only assume there was a dark time in skating history where people would run onto the ice and try to steal the skate right off your foot to warrant that much excessive lacing.

So, after my skates were on (and my ankles overly secured) I would be herded awkwardly into the cold, menacing arena so I could step onto the frozen rink of doom.

I wish I could tell you I stepped onto that ice and just glided across that rink the way a Kardashian coasts through life but alas, I cannot.

All I kept doing was falling. And standing. Falling. And standing.

A nationwide study would later show that the falling/standing/falling game is actually enjoyed by zero per cent of Canadians.

Next, I remember grabbing the boards and just shimmying my way along them — the mark of any truly great skater. I still see Sidney Crosby use this method twice a game. 

So here I am, shimmying and falling, shimmying and falling around every corner of this rink, while this one kid just keeps skating past me like he popped out of the womb wearing a pair of Bauers.

Just a heads up, nobody likes that kid.

It would go on this way for an hour and then every week thereafter for another two months.

I couldn't get any better. I couldn't stand. I couldn't stop. And I sure as heck couldn't skate.

To make it worse, every time I had a skating lesson, someone would be chopping a bag of onions in the bleachers, so my eyes would get all teary — from the onions.

The classes eventually ended, the look of hope on my father's face disappeared, and I never went back again.

It's like that old saying: "If you're not good at something right off the bat, quit and never do it again!"

About 30 years have passed, and I am proud to say I have yet to set a blade on a sheet of ice since.

And yet once every year, someone gives me a hard time about "not being truly Canadian" because I don't skate.

They make it seem like skating is at the center of a Canadian's soul.

The good news is they're wrong.

The true measure of a Canadian is based on four things and four things alone:

  1. You can eat a full plate of bacon, then ask, "where's the other plate?"
  2. You have more Canadian Tire money in your pocket than actual currency.
  3. You find long underwear sexy.
  4. You can get through an episode of Corner Gas.

Luckily, I can do all of these in spades! Although Corner Gas is a struggle.

So before you taunt or tease someone for not wanting to glide across a frozen piece of water with nothing but a weapon on their foot, just remember: skating doesn't have to be for everyone.

It doesn't make you less of a Canadian if you can't do it, and it shouldn't make you feel bad if you don't want to do it.

Besides, most kids dream about becoming an NHL hockey player or a CBC Radio host when they grow up, and I feel pretty good knowing I ended up as one of the big two.