Thursday, February 25, 2016

Last Run?

I was watching ESPN a while back when I heard coach Eric Mangini describe what he believed the difference between confidence and arrogance was. He said there was a line between the two where confidence was the belief that one had the skill and ability to be successful. Arrogance or cockiness was having so much belief that one lacked the self-awareness to change the things they needed to in order to be successful. I think you can have a healthy fear of something and still be confident and if you don't have a little bit of that fear, you have crossed that line and are setting yourself up for a crash. Yesterday, I was re-introduced to that line on the ski-hill and flew right over it...
It was my last run of the day. I had been chasing Cuda all over the hill all day long trying to keep up with him. I mean, he's 61 years old, right? How hard could it be? But I have to give Dave a lot of credit. He's 61, still in good shape, still rows a boat for a living and has just kicked cancer in the ass so getting beat up on the slopes by him shouldn't have been a surprise. However, ego tears apart confidence and can feed arrogance and in my case yesterday, it was like putting one of those bacon topped, maple frosting fritters in front of my face and this last run, Dave is going down.
There's an app out there that shows your runs for the day; how far you've skied and other things like average speed and slope and even top speeds and where you were when you hit those speeds. Dave showed me his stats for the day right before this last run. His top speed was 46mph. I was right on his tail but I could never pass him. I would this last run damnit.
We got off the lift and swung around to the run we had hit our highest speeds on. Dave wanted more. We skied down through the trees and around a bend and then followed the cat-track to Belmont Bowl. It's the steepest slope on the hill and it's not long or overly technical--just steep. Oh yeah, and with the recent warm weather during the day and cold at night; icy as hell.
The snow had been softening up a bit and was finally to the point where you could feel safe really pushing yourself. I had been getting my legs underneath me all day and was really feeling it. We stopped at the top of Belmont and looked down to the lodge.
"First one to turn buys the beer," Dave said and took off.
I pushed off and was right on his ass. He turned and I turned and I made it a point to get right in his ear. We were flying down the hill. I was killing it until we left the sun-exposed ridge and went into the protected shaded part of the slope inside the bowl. The snow went from that nice soft carving material to the bluish green glare of packed ice and as I tried to make a turn, my skies rattled, my downhill ski slipped out from underneath me and I spun around and slammed down on my backside--skies up in the air, head pointed downhill bouncing on the ice as I slid.
The initial fall wasn't all that bad. Minus the crashing part, I felt like I was in control. I was sliding but I wasn't tumbling or cartwheeling and I still had ahold of everything. This wasn't the yard-sale where skis are flying every which direction, articles of closing are rolling down the hill, and poles are sliding further and further away from you. I still had control of everything. The only problem was, I couldn't stop.
I kept sliding and kept thinking that at some point I would just stop. But I didn't. I just kept going and thinking, "I wonder if this is what it's like when someone goes down on a motorcycle and slides across the asphalt?"
I was afraid of trying to stop myself by rolling over or trying to get the skis underneath me because I was cruising and new I could start tumbling and that would be bad. I kept my body still and kept sliding and at some point, new I had to do something because A.) I knew there were trees coming and 2.) I started feeling my shoulder and hip that I was sliding on getting really hot.
I had to do something so I risked the tumble and swung my body around so my skis were downhill. In the process of doing so, I saw the tree-line coming quick. I was able to dig my edges in just enough to slow down and finally stop about ten feet from flying off into the timber. I wasn't in any pain and nobody saw what happened. I looked up and saw Cuda barreling down the hill. I was good.
I got up and tried to ski off and the first turn I tried to make, my left leg wouldn't work and I crashed to the icy run again. I was able to stop myself right away this time and got up again but again, my left leg wouldn't allow myself to make a turn.
I nursed my way down to the lodge. Dave was already at the lift so I waved him on and made my way to the bar. I grabbed a Lewis & Clark Prickly Pear, had a seat and took off my boots. I was done.
I'm not hurt. Maybe my ego a little bit but there's nothing wrong with my leg. I'm just bruised up along the entire side of my body I was sliding on and my hip. I don't know if something is wrong with my bindings on that left ski or if it was just that my leg was tired and wouldn't move. I didn't test it out and it might have to wait until next year if we don't get anymore snow. I do like spring skiing and when the sun is out the snow usually does soften up and it can be a lot of fun but if the weather stays like this, I think I'd rather be fishing for now.
In future, I think a healthy fear of speed and ice would be prudent.
Keep 'em where they live...

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