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Vail instructors walk on water

Compiled by Allen R. Smith

In the early days of Vail, the ski school would always throw a large Christmas party at The Lodge at Vail. At the time, there were only 20 ski instructors on staff, so get-togethers were usually quite informal. However, one of the prerequisites for attending the party was to dress in one’s finest. No blue jeans allowed.As nice as we looked, after a few beers the party started to become a little raucous. There was drinking, singing and usually some ill-fated high jinx, based on challenges from one inebriated instructor to another.The Lodge had a fairly large pool that they kept covered for the winter. The cover floated on top of the water and was anchored with only 4 hooks; one in each corner. One of the instructors challenged the group, “Let’s see who can run across the pool without getting wet!” I was the only other one who thought that this was a good idea.After a sufficiently large buildup from the crowd, we sent the instigator on his way across the cover. Because he was the first one over, he made it across without getting the slightest bit wet.Following the first competitor’s run, the cover had more than an inch of water on the top of it. I knew that I would really have to scoot if I was going to make it to the other side. Following a toast to my success, I ran across the pool cover, heading for the other side. By the time that I reached the middle, I started sinking fast. I was knee-deep in water and found that I could no longer run across the cover.Like being stuck in quicksand, the more I struggled, the faster I sank. Within seconds, I was up to my neck in ice-cold water. After savoring my predicament, one of the other instructors finally tore off his necktie and threw one end to me. I grabbed the tie and he pulled me to safety.Stone cold sober by this time, I fumed at the guests, “What’s wrong with you guys? Why didn’t you help me out of the pool? I could have drowned!”The instigator came over to me and said, “Relax Karl. We knew nothing was going to happen to you.””Everyone knows that Vail ski instructors can walk on water!”- Karl Hochtl, VailVail, Colorado


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