A Day on Skis



Background
I grew up skiing, I started in between my mother's legs as she would lead us down the mountain. I am not sure how she tolerated a four, six and eight year old on skis. But more power to her and I am grateful for it!

Since I grew up on the East Coast we would take family vacations to ski mostly in Canada or Colorado. That is where I learned, but it was only once a year. I was able to pick up the sport quickly being a decent athlete, I was riding black diamonds in no time (no one said with the greatest form).

Photo taken at Mount Snow in Vermont, 1997
Back-my mother, left-my sister Rachel, middle-me, right-my sister Alex

I got bored on skis, not that I ever hit expert level, but just wanted to try snowboarding. Ever since high school I have been an avid snowboarder and quickly became better. Mostly because I go to college in Colorado and I have had much more exposure to the mountain than before. And also partially because I am snowboarding with friends and not my family (presumably slower).

Since getting off skis at age fifteen, I have skied around five times within my four years of college. However, twice I have skied alone (including today) and three times with friends. And when I have skied they were determined as low-key days where we just skied blues and nothing crazy.

A Day on Skis
I decided to ski today because I am skiing alone and I am a slower skier than snowboarder so when I am alone I hold no one back.

I do not set an alarm because I want the mountain sun to wake me up and around 9 A.M. it does just that. I smile as I am content waking up in Vail and ready for a day on the mountain.

I tousle the idea back and forth of maybe snowboarding but in the end I decide to ski. I want to be a better skier. I want to be able to ski and snowboard at the same level so today I will get some use out of my dusty skis!

I take my time as I dress, eat breakfast and check my email. I am skipping a full day of classes - not the most studious decision but I have not missed one class and do not plan on missing others. And I have fully prepared to miss this day -- so justified, in my mind.

I arrive at Lionshead at the bottom of Vail mountain around 10 A.M. I take the gondola up. Three young guys are in my gondola and we start chatting. They are funny and nice but not that cute.

We make it to the top and I get situated with my music and hair situation. I am wearing my hair down so trying to zip up my jacket and not get my frizzy hair zippered is a challenge.

I have no idea where to go or where I am going. 1. I unfortunately have no sense of direction. 2. I don't usually ski/snowboard Vail and when I did I was in ski school or I am with my friends who know the mountain.

I take a few greens and blues, nice and easy trails. I then hop over to the intermediate/expert area with blues and blacks. I am not keen on the moguls and also having chairlifts above my head so they can ridicule my poor form, so I do my best to ski away from the lifts.

It is almost 1 P.M. and I decide to head back over to the Lionshead area so I can take a few more runs over there and then be right back where I started.

I only plan to do a half day because I have a butt-load of work to do.

I am officially warmed up and feeling confident, maybe too confident as I decided to go on a steep black diamond. I start to scale the left side of the mountain filled with moguls.

I start talking to myself saying, "I can do these moguls with speed and control. Maybe I am not so slow and maybe I have better form than I think. Let's see how fast I can do this."

I pick up my speed, the mountain starts to steepen quickly and the snow gets thinner and more icy.

I am feeling good. Then out of no where I loose control, just like that.

I can't even fully explain what happened because it happened so fast.

My ski gets caught and the force of my speed flips my body forward as my pole plants into the ground and as I flip forward at fast speed my stomach is punctured by the pole.

As I am flying forward preparing to crash I just feel like someone has punched me so hard in my stomach that my spline has ruptured.

I land several feet down the mountain away from my poles, but my skis stay binded to my boots. I am curled up like a little ball gasping for air. Trying to speak but nothing is coming out. I loose sight and my ears begin to ring.

I try to breathe but I could barely gasp for air as I start to make weird noises. I almost think at one moment that it was not me making those "in pain" noises.

I think to myself that I need help. I gain blurry vision until it comes back to normal, I see no one, nothing. I was like shit I am done. This is it. I am alone.

Finally able to catch more oxygen I lay there and collect my thoughts. Who am I to think I need someone to help me? Gosh darn it, I have been on the mountain hundreds of times. I am not a beginner nor am I a woos. And if I actually got a stretcher... Do I realize the price of that?!

As ringing noise continues to scream in my ears I pull out my phone. It gets all snowy but I don't care -- my life is on the line. (Drama queen)

I think who do I call? It was either between my mother or my best friend Kiki. What is Kiki going to do? Although her dad is a doctor, it's not like he could come save me. And plus, I am obviously breathing I do not need help and she would just worry for me. I call my mother.

It rings. No answer.

I think, how terrible would that be if she missed my call and then I was done? That would be awful. I call her again. She answers!

Hallelujah.

I can barely get words I am out of breathe and still trying to breath. I tell her I have had the biggest ski crash I have ever had and I can't move.

She helps me. And this is just one inkling of a reason why I love her... she never panics. She just tells me to breathe, get down the mountain and call it a day.

I feel like other moms would have a panic attack and make things work. I hang up the phone and get myself together.

I lay there and realize how cold my butt is getting because I have been lying here for an undetermined amount of time.

I look up the mountain and my poles are far up and it is steep. I am in too much pain to take off my skies.

I slowly but surely scoot up side ways as I press my right ski into the snow to lift me an inch higher. This took a while, but I finally get one pole. I have a few more yards to go to get the other but it is not as bad because I use my other pole to get it down once I get in reach.

Again, I lay there and feel the pain in my side but realize that my head is perfectly intact and so are my skis so it was just a hit to the stomach and I was essentially knocked out, as the saying goes, literally "the wind knocked out of me" is what occurred.

Still there are no skiers in this time span that come down except one ski patrol. I wonder if someone saw my crash and thought I was dead so they decided to call someone or if he coincidently was skiing down the same trail.

He asks me if I am okay and all that jazz. I tell him I am just fine, the pole just hit me funny and is taking me awhile to get up but that I am good.

He skis away. I wait until he is out of sight and slowly begin to get up.

My hair is now a rats nest and I currently regret wearing it down. But in this moment my main goal to get the heck down from this mountain and sit in a warm chair.

I finally get down, into the shuttle and make it back to my place.

This was, a day on skis.






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