rowing up in
as a teenage
candy striper at Torrance Memorial
Medical Center, never imagining he
would return to practice medicine. But
Chang, who graduated from UCLA
Medical School in 1991 and trained at
Harbor UCLA Medical Center, did
return to Torrance Memorial and has
been an anesthesiologist there for the
past 21 years.
As much as he loves the South Bay, the 50-year-old also loves taking time
off to hit the ski slopes. He’s passed his enthusiasm for the sport
on to his family. Chang and his wife, Joanne, take their three sons, Michael,
18, Matthew, 17, and Marcus, 14, on skiing vacations several times a year.
Plus he goes skiing on his own several more times a year. He talked to
Pulse about his passion for skiing, plus his newfound love of golf.
How did you get into skiing?
Stanley Chang: I used to play ice hockey as a child, then my parents made
me quit because it became too rough, and they were afraid I would get
hurt. So we went on a family skiing vacation to Mammoth Mountain at age
14 and went regularly from then on. In college, there was less opportunity
to ski and even less in medical school, but I still kept it up. One winter
during medical school, I took the semester off and lived in Aspen, Colorado,
and did a lot of skiing. That’s where I really advanced in my skill
level and solidified my love of the sport. Of course right after that,
my medical training prevented me from skiing regularly for about 12 years
until my sons were old enough and we introduced them to the sport, the
way my parents introduced me.
What is it about skiing that you love so much?
SC: It’s fantastic to be out in nature. It’s very peaceful
doing your own thing—you have a sense of freedom. It’s very
serene and meditative.
You’re also a fan of helicopter skiing, or heli-skiing.
SC: I started heli-skiing nine years ago. Richard Shrader, a local orthopedic
surgeon, is an avid heli-skier and he introduced me and my ski buddy,
Ramin Mirhashemi, a gynecologic oncologist at Torrance Memorial, to it.
Once I tried it, I was pretty much hooked. Now we go heli-skiing in the
Selkirk Mountains in British Columbia once a year for the past nine years.
How is heli-skiing different?
SC: With most skiing, you stay at a resort and take a ski lift up the mountain
and then ski down a wideopen path. With heli-skiing, you stay in a lodge
that is only accessible by helicopter during the winter. There are no
roads in winter so you have to take a helicopter up to the lodge. The
lodge is totally isolated in the wilderness. You take a helicopter up
the mountain and ski down. Then the helicopter takes you up to the top
again. This goes on for a week. It’s great.
What, you jump out of the helicopter and ski down the mountain?
SC: No, that’s something James Bond might do. You take your skis
off and load them into a basket on the side of the helicopter. You ride
inside the helicopter with the 10 or 12 others in your party. When the
copter lands at the top of the mountain, you put your skis on and go down
the mountain. Sometimes you’re skiing on a glacier where there are
no trees and it’s wide open. Other times you’re tree-skiing
through a native forest where there are no runs cut out; that big wide
path does not exist. You ski on fresh, untracked powder every run. It
gives you a sense of exhilaration being in deep powder in the unspoiled
This sounds dangerous.
SC: You ski down the mountain as a group. There are guides skiing with
you who know the terrain. There are rocks, cliffs, tree wells, etc., you
want to avoid and they know where they are. We always emphasize safety.
We’re not thrill seeking by any means. It’s just a different
way to ski. We try to minimalize the danger, not seek it out.
Do you work out as well?
SC: Skiing is physically demanding and a lot of stamina is needed. I do
weekly sessions with a physical trainer, Alonzo Garrett, during the year,
but we ramp up right before ski season. We do circuit training, which
is good for cardio endurance to build up your stamina, then we do leg
exercises to build up what we call “ski legs.”
You started golfing five years ago at age 45. What made you take up golf so late?
SC: My wife, Joanne, sent me out. She thought it would be enjoyable since
my teenage boys were learning to golf. So, now when my sons and I go golfing
together, that counts as family time. You can do a lot of bonding for
four hours together on a golf course.
And now you’re an avid golfer.
SC: I’m on the golf course two or three times a week. It’s
funny because I always thought golf was too hard, too expensive, too time
consuming, not even interesting to play. And then I started to play and
found out I was wrong on all those counts. It’s good for physical
health, but it’s also mentally stimulating. The mental challenge
is to learn to play the game and be constantly improving and challenging
yourself, which I never knew until I started. I’ve even had some
success by winning our club championship, which is something I am proud of.