January 3, 2015

Triple Threat Day on the Slopes

Although I got my splint/wrap off on Tuesday, my arm hasn’t been completely up to snuff yet. I still can’t bend it more than about 90 degrees, and I can’t lift anything heavier than my purse (although that’s huge improvement over when I could barely lift my cell phone)… but I can go skiing!

I asked the doctor about restrictions on activity, and he basically said that I could try anything that didn’t hurt, although he wouldn’t recommend heavy weight lifting. So then I asked the classic Coloradan question: when can I go skiing? He was a little worried about how I would use the poles, but told me I would be fine to ski as long as I wasn’t using the technique where you plant your pole in the ground and then whip your body around the pole to turn (like on a slalom or mogul course). Fortunately, I’m not advanced enough to normally use that technique, so I could easily reassure him I wouldn’t do that! In general, I tried to make sure I wasn’t really using my poles except to hold them out for balance, and the amazing thing was, it worked – I had a great time getting back into the skiing scene!

Keystone Summit
All smiles at the summit of Keystone! Foreshadowing: Keystone really does not seem to like me.

As with my last trip to Keystone, back in 2010, my day sadly wasn’t without missteps. I honestly can’t remember the last time I had a fall while skiing, but today, I fell three times! (To be clear, I had specifically asked my doctor about falling and he said that wouldn’t hurt anything; he basically just didn’t want me getting into a car accident. Bummer, guess I’ll have to change my plans to try to avoid those!) I’m not seriously hurt, but I am pretty bruised and sore, and I now don’t have a single extremity that is completely pain-free. Oops 🙁

My first fall of the day was entirely my fault – I was trying to coast enough from the lift to get across the summit to the opposite trail without having to push off my poles much, and when I tried to slip through a narrow gap in the crowds standing around, I crossed my skis and down I went. Not a big deal, especially since I wasn’t going fast, but highly embarrassing! (And I also learned that getting up from a fall is really difficult when I couldn’t use my left hand to press down in order to get up.)

My next incident wasn’t a fall, but a near-fall. While skiing, a snowboarder came up behind me and slammed into me. Surprisingly, I kept my balance, but I was pretty pissed – that’s dangerous to not be in control of your riding/skiing! To his credit, the boarder did apologize – and since I wasn’t hurt, I just said “it’s okay” and skied away quickly (to an area far, far away from him). On the plus side, I was proud that I was able to keep my balance and just ski away!

My next incident also involved a snowboarder. We shared a lift ride with a (really nice) guy from Peru, and I chatted with him about my trips to his beautiful country. However, just as we were getting off the lift, his dangling snowboard got tangled up with my skis, causing them to cross. I tried to save myself, but down I went – right in the unloading zone at the top of the lift! The lift worker quickly came over and hauled me to my feet so that I didn’t cause a pileup, and once again, I was highly embarrassed. However, this fall also hurt my right side and arm, which are now kind of bruised and sore. Yuck.

But the final incident, again with a snowboarder, made me call it quits for the day. My friends and I were standing by the lift entrance (so, totally flat ground) debating whether to do one more run or go home, since the conditions were now getting kind of windy and poor. As I stood there, a snowboarder was hurrying to get into the lift line, and like the guy on the lift, was dragging her loose board behind her… but she was completely oblivious and not watching where it was going. She came up behind me and then turned to enter the line for the lift… but her board sideswiped me and knocked my feet out from under me. My legs splayed out to either side so I was in a straddle split when I fell, but with my knees pointing inward – and the weight of the skis was pulling down hard on my kneecaps. (So basically, a similar situation to when I jacked up my knee a few years ago at Keystone – except with both knees simultaneously!) I immediately burst into tears from the pressure on my knees and begged my friends for help; fortunately, my friend Matt understood exactly what I needed and was able to pop my skis off within 5 seconds – and just getting rid of the extra weight on my skis made my knees feel much better. However, I decided that was it for me for the day – my left arm had already been hurting from my surgery before I got there, and now I had hurt each one of my other extremities! With no more extremities left to injure, I headed for the base lodge to have a beer and wait for my friends to finish up.

Keystone - Ice Sculpture
And snagged a picture with one of the cool ice sculptures on the way to the bar. I do like the Keystone base area!

In the end, I’m fine – I know the soreness on all my body parts will go away in a day or so (okay, maybe not the pain in my zombie arm). I’m really grateful that I didn’t really get hurt… but I have to admit, I am feeling pretty anti-snowboarder right now. I am totally generalizing here, but I have always thought that snowboarders can be rather inconsiderate – stopping right at the top of a trailhead to fasten their board (one trail at Keystone today had a line of boarders sitting side by side all the way across the top so there was no way for anyone else to start down until one of the boarders finally finished getting their boots strapped in and left, opening a gap in the line), plopping down for rest breaks right in the middle of a trail… and now, knocking me down by carelessly dragging a board behind them without regard for what it might hit. Of course I’m sure that all of you lovely readers who happen to be snowboarders are not this clueless, but it makes me wish that Colorado had a skiers-only resort like Utah does in Deer Valley. Yes, these were isolated incidents, but I think I would feel safer in that environment.

I know that there are plenty of rude skiers out there too – and chances are that I’ve inadvertently been one of them at times! However, I feel like something about snowboarding encourages a rebellious, reckless, devil-may-care subculture, and it results in some of the above behaviors that are not very nice (and even downright dangerous) for others on the mountain. Am I crazy? Is this just a case of me being a grumpy old lady who remembers back when the only snowboarders were rude idiot teenagers, and I’m now indiscriminately applying that stereotype to everyone else? (You remember those days… back when we used to walk uphill to the mountain both ways in the snow. Get off my lawn!) Of course, feel free to disagree and bash my very broad generalization in the comments. I fully admit that I am mostly just pissed off at and venting about those specific snowboarders who took me down!

P.S. Here’s a cool article on the snowboarding vs skiing debate as a dying feud. Some great points, and apparently my philosophy fits squarely into the “get off my lawn” older demographic, and I am a two-plank elitist. Oops.


6 thoughts on “Triple Threat Day on the Slopes”

  1. Before I moved out to CO there were very defined lines between snowboarders and skiers. It actually took a while for me to come to terms with the fact everyone rode together out here, no matter what mode of transportation you chose. Then, this past summer, someone explained it to me…

    There are three types of people that hit the mountains — skiers, snowboarders and riders.

    Skiers and snowboarders are the people that fit into their respective stereotypes for various reasons. Riders are out there to enjoy the mountain, have fun and make the most of their day, no matter what they are actually riding on.

    That’s a concept I can get behind — I’ve ridden with complete asshats on both skis and snowboards. I’ve had skiers treat me like crap because I’m on a snowboard and I’ve been ashamed of the way other snowboarders have acted because of the association they have with me. But the riders? That’s something I understand! Those are the people I can spend an entire day with and truly enjoy my time on the mountain.

    tl;dr — don’t write of snowboarders because of the equipment strapped to their feet, we’re not all jerk faces! 🙂

    1. Well said, Heidi! I agree, in snowboarding and skiing (as in life) there are always jerkfaces and awesome people and everything in between. I just try to be one of the good ones.

      Hope your injuries heal quickly!

    2. I love your comment, and you are TOTALLY right that there are plenty of skiers as well who are asshats – and I don’t mean to imply that all skiers are saints. I have a lot of friends who board and you’re right that they fit much more into the “rider” category (as do my friends who ski – hopefully anyone that I’m friends with wouldn’t fit into the asshat category whether they are on skis or a snowboard!). I guess what I am wondering is – why does it seem like so much more of the jerk population at the mountain seems to be on snowboards vs on skis? Even though there are DEFINITELY lots of people on both snowboards and skis who are not jerks.

      PS – even though I missed you yesterday, I’d love to ride with you in the mountains sometime, no matter what equipment you’re on 😉

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