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Skiing in a pair of cement shoes

Compiled by Allen R. Smith

Just before the Christmas holidays, I was assigned to a week-long booking with a middle-aged man and a young woman. One of my fellow instructors informed me that they were very wealthy, living in Colombia and came from a “questionably legal” source of income.Our first morning, I was introduced to a friendly gentleman with slicked back hair, who was accompanied by a quiet, slender woman dressed all in white. I made the assumption that he was the husband and she was his wife.Completely covered by a hat and a neck gator, the only features I could make out were her stunning blue eyes. I introduced myself but she refused to acknowledge me and looked the other way.Anxious to start their day, Mr. Slick impatiently scooted toward the lift giving me little opportunity to determine their skiing ability. Judging from the direction we were headed, I assumed that we were making a beeline to their favorite black diamond run. I continued asking questions of the lovely Ms. White, but she said nothing. After several more futile attempts at idle conversation, I gave up saying anything to either of them and rode up the lift in silence. As we neared the top of the lift, I was instructed by Mr. Slick to lead the way. I stopped at the top of a steep pitch a few hundred yards from the top of the chair, thinking this would be a good place to get organized, discuss tactics and prepare for our first run. Mr. Slick wanted nothing to do with the verbal introduction and pushed off, leaving me behind with the lovely Ms. White. Following his lead, the lovely Ms. White buzzed past me in a “killer wedge,” something she had seen in a Warren Miller movie. Hitting the first bump, she flipped end over end and starting sliding down the hill on her back, faster than most people ski it. I froze for a minute, and then took off after her limp, 90-pound body.In hot pursuit, I dodged airborne skis, poles, a hat and even a pair of goggles before grabbing her by the back of the collar. We miraculously screeched to a stop before hitting a stand of lodgepole pines.I asked if she was all right. Apparently, the fall “broke the ice,” because she smiled, said thank you, that she was fine, but she needed to get to a phone and call her husband.Confused, I asked, “Your husband?” She explained that Mr. Slick was not her husband, but one of the “employees” of her husband’s “organization,” hired to protect her and keep her safe on her holiday ski trip. Her husband wanted to know if anything happened while on the trip. I asked her, “Have you ever skied a black run before?” She answered, “No, I have never skied anywhere before.”Without thinking, I exclaimed, “Anyone that leads a beginning skier down a black diamond run on their first day should be tossed off a pier with cement shoes!”The face of the lovely Ms. White turned stone cold. Her eyes constricted and her eyelids dropped down, framing a look that could kill. As I slowly escorted her down the mountain, I could see that she was formulating a sinister plan. One that began with a telephone call the moment we walked into the restaurant for lunch.Seated at one of the tables, a visibly agitated Mr. Slick apologized profusely for his choice of terrain and asked if the lovely Ms. White was all right. He knew that he had blown it, putting the lovely Ms. White in danger. I said that she was fine and in fact, was downstairs calling her husband. His face turned white as a sheet. He jumped up from the table and rushed downstairs to the telephones.Ms. White returned for her next lesson the following day, but I never saw Mr. Slick again. Although, every time I see a pier, I think of him.- Chris Anthony, VailVail, Colorado


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