Monday, December 31, 2007


I taught skiing 6 of the last 9 days. Two of those days were with beginners or near beginners on easy terrain. The other four days were spent with the children I normally teach, and they are all strong skiers. We do at least one run each day on double-black diamond terrain - steep and moguled terrain. In all of those days of teaching, including some sketchy conditions, I didn't fall once. I felt good out there the whole time.

Yesterday, my wife and daughter were at the mountain with us. My son and I both teach skiing, so we are there every Saturday and Sunday. My wife and daughter used to come along almost every day, but that has changed a bit in the past two years. First, my daughter switched from skiing to snowboarding, so she has gone from being an expert skier to being a moderate rider. She's getting better, but she only rides on green or easier blue terrain. We still put my daughter in lessons sometimes, but a one-day lesson for her costs as much as I make in a day of teaching, so we can't afford that all the time.

So, my wife and daughter spent the day together on easy terrain yesterday, while my son and I worked. At 3:15, we all met up and my daughter was exhausted. My son was also tired from working with 4-year-old beginners all day. He spends a lot of time simply picking them up and getting them back on their feet.

So, the kids headed inside the lodge to change and my wife and I decided to ski a run together. We hadn't skied a single run together all year. I'm so busy teaching and she gets to ski so infrequently that we just don't get time together. We took two chair rides to one of the more moderate peaks at the mountain and we skied an intermediate bump run. I was feeling pretty good about my skiing. Then, we went to an even easier run to finish, although it has one short, steep pitch. My wife got to the bottom of that pitch before me and I was again feeling really good about my turns. I was feeling dynamic, my head was up, my body was framed down the fall line, and I was making nice rounded turns. And then, my ski tips touched briefly and I went down hard. My right thumb and left wrist took the brunt of the fall, but I shook it off and skied away. We had one final pitch to go and I went first. I got down quickly and I decided to watch my wife ski her last few turns while I was still moving. I was doing something called sideslipping, which is where you are traveling perpendicular to the length of your ski, basically skimming over the snow sideways. That allowed me to look up to watch my wife without stopping.

The bad thing about sideslipping is that you need to have your weight balanced just right over the ski. If your hips shift downhill just the slightest amount, your downhill edge will dig into the snow and you don't slide anymore. Your skis simply stop moving. Regretfully, I got careless and did exactly that. When my ski edges caught, the laws of physics still applied (P = mv, and I have a lot of "m"). Before I even realized that I'd caught my edge, I landed hard on my shoulder and side and then slid to a stop. Right under a lift. If I'd seen it from a chair, I probably would have laughed out loud. I simply laid there for a few seconds, assessing the damage. My shoulder hurt a bit and I'd hit my hip pretty hard, but I seemed OK. I finally got up and found one of my ski poles 20 yards ahead of me. I'd been going pretty fast and I hit pretty hard.

So, today I'm sore, but I don't think I'm injured. But, I may take a break from high speed sideslipping for a while.

This morning, I fought a bunch of new snow to get to the gym early. The lights were off and the doors were locked. Maybe they'll be open tonight. If not, I'll do a nighttime snowshoe run in the new snow. Then, I'll be asleep by 9:00, before running 20 tomorrow. I can't remember the last time I stayed up until midnight on New Year's Eve.

No comments: