A double ejection or more hot air from the west coast?
I was riding chair 6 this weekend which passes over the terrain park in Vail. This is a great place to watch people of all levels huck themselves off huge jumps, attempt all sorts of different and challenging rail and box combos and, of course, flail in the half pipe. As I was sitting there watching the carnage and athletic grace happening under the chair I noticed a skier charging a straight line at one of the biggest jumps in the park. He tucked into the approach ramp and launched bigger than I have seen anyone go in the park this year. No tricks, grabs or fancy stuff, just an old school straight air. He didn’t flap his arms or “roll up the windows” as it is often called, which tells me he was comfortable with that type of speed and height. The instant his ski’s hit the snow he “double ejected” and turned what was the biggest air of the season into one of the nastiest face plants I have ever seen. I had the same feeling I got when I was a kid watching the famous ski racing crash in the intro to ABC’s Wide World of Sports. It was that nauseating I can’t stop looking but I’m going to throw up feeling. It makes you giggle, an odd human trait I must admit. “The agony of defeat” read the voice over on the famous intro. “Oh my god, that guy ate it HARD,” I said, pointing toward the wrecked skier.
The only reason this guy crashed was because he lost his ski’s on impact. He had the landing dialed, I have no doubt about it. The “great torque, stress or pressure along an unnatural axis” which causes the skier to eject from his skis turned this guys face into hamburger helper and left him with a serious headache and hopefully no other serious injuries. Had he been on a board he would have stuck the landing and set himself up for a graceful and stylish entry into the rail section of the park. Was this in fact “a moment of great peril”? Not until the poor two-footer lost his skis.
Good news however, fear not oh noble skier for you have the confidence to “get naked” on the mountain. Good thing the chair kept moving. As a snowboarder, I’m far too repressed to comfortably witness his “freedom of motion”.
A skier friend of mine was skiing one of the steepest faces on Beaver Creek when he lost his ski. He slid fifty feet downhill, took the other ski off to ease the climb back up the steep pitch, huffing and puffing and “sweating like a pig” he finally reached his ski. He was then forced to “trust his body to get down the hill on its own power” and unable to self arrest, slid another fifty feet past the ski he abandoned to retrieve his original lost ski and was forced to climb another fifty feet in deep snow to collect the other piece of his snow riding puzzle. Forty minutes later, his glasses fogged up, his goggles fogged up, bleeding from a marmot bite, he was over it. It ruined the whole day. Many skiers I have spoken with share similar experiences, a large number of which admit to ejecting in bumps and falling when their ability level could have easily guided them from “peril” had they not been victimized by a sudden and painful divorce of their planks.
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