Thursday, February 20, 2014

Climbing a waterfall

I used to be a skier.
But I was never one like the crazy guys we're currently watching at the Sochi Olympics.
I sometimes came swiftly down the hill without mishap and once or twice I actually enjoyed it, thought I was getting the hang of this death-defying sport.
I'd get the music of Yanni going in my head and come around the corner like I was unafraid.
But not like my husband who's happiest when he is blazing down a steep run or my daughters who can break the hill's speed limit with big grins on their faces.
Where they are turning and catching air, I come along more carefully, relying heavily on the snowplow and the sitdown. I took "never ski out of control" very seriously.
Thus I'll never win a race or go for an aerial on purpose. I'll never be a star.
And, I wonder about the ones who fall and suffer injuries — torn ACL, herniated disc, broken bone, concussion, how do they find the courage to get up and ski madly again?
I once missed an important turn on the hill and ended up trying to ski down something called "The Waterfall" and I was sure I was going to die.
I couldn't go down because it was all ice and certain disaster.
I couldn't go up because it was impossible.
Nobody knew where I'd gone so no one was coming to rescue me.
So I ended up hacking my way back to where I'd gone off the hill, using my ski poles to brace myself and sort of tossing my skis ahead of me for purchase as I went.
It was hard work and slow going.
Another time, I panicked at the top of a hill and tried to take off my skis so I could safely walk down. Instead, I rolled, skidded and squealed for what felt like my last miles.
I realized it was foolhardy to continue.
In fact, after one of my skis snagged a twig on the trail between lift lines and tossed me and my knee painfully to the ground, I gave my skis away.
I didn't ever want to go through the physical therapy and pain required to get to where I could fully bend my knee again.
So I now watch the skiers and snowboarders flying through the sky and down the hill with clattering skis with true respect and wonder.
How do they do what they do?
Where do they find the time in flight to do multiple flips and turns and then ski backwards to the finish point?
I'm truly amazed, impressed and wowed.
And it scares me to death.

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