In a normal skiing experience, a man of my limited skill level shouldn’t be this high off the snow. And, the bottom of his skis probably shouldn’t be facing the sky. Likely he shouldn’t be tumbling, poles sort of flailing, ski helmet more or less even with his ski boots.
So, I recently was flying a foot or two over a bed of fresh white powder at a Colorado ski resort.
In a normal skiing experience, a man of my limited skill level shouldn’t be this high off the snow. And the bottom of his skis probably shouldn’t be facing the sky. Likely, he shouldn’t be tumbling, poles sort of flailing, ski helmet more or less even with his ski boots.
I remember it occurring to me at some point during my enthusiastic descent that this probably wasn’t going to feel good when I hit anything besides the thin mountain air.
I thought briefly — is there any other way in that situation? — of taking up tennis if I made it all the way to summer.
Actually, it’s quite interesting the number of hasty and incomplete thoughts that can pass through a man’s mind in a moment of distress.
Selfishly, none of my family members made the cut, but I did wonder how many of the friends with whom I was skiing would laugh and make such inconsiderate but entirely understandable comments as, “Nice butt plant,” or, “Wow, a 1 1/3 revolution backflip ... just two-thirds short ...”
I also worried that, should my skis come off, if I ever would find them again in the fluffy snow, or if sometime in spring seasonal archeologists would discover them and make some vain attempt at searching for evidence — ski jacket, gloves, a note scribbled on a ski lift ticket that says, “When melted, please return to ...” — of the guy who was attached to them.
And I gave some thought to how much it might hurt when I was done thinking.
NOT SO BAD
But, as it turns out, I landed on my back with a light thump instead of a heavy thud. Powder, it seems, has a cushioning consistency. Under normal circumstances, it hurts your pride but does little damage to life and limb.
So, I skied for three more days and fell a couple of more times, just because I no longer had a fear of it. I was more or less getting used to the feel of cold powder melting down my neck. And I found myself, while waiting to land, no longer being absorbed in idle thought. I just enjoyed the flight until I touched down, safely and almost silently. I really wouldn’t be limping and grimacing at all today if I hadn’t returned to the East.
This winter season, there is no powdered snow. Due to a lack of snow, ice instead is topped by a grainy groomed surface. There is no forgiveness to a surface of ice. I’ve found that you should perhaps give some thought to all that before you’re in the air.
The last self-centered thought that passed through my mind before I bounced was, “Will I sound as though I’m a better skier if I lie and say I got hurt out West?”