My apologies, this is a very self-indulgent post, but some of you may find it interesting. I skied for the first time five times.
1) After skiing 3 months everyday on local cross-country snowpack in 78-79, winning Kentucky’s first and only (AFAIK) XC race, I go to the newly-opened local ski hill, Paoli Peaks. I ski on their flat “black” run (“Graber’s Express,” still there) on my 45mm XC racing skis, part of a slick $200 ensemble from Elan, dodging fallen skiers all the way. So light, 2.5 pounds on each foot including boots. It looked like a war zone, but nothing serious :) . I lamented my lack of metal edges or sidecut but had loads of fun…nobody passed me, a nice ego boost.
2) Moved to Jackson Hole in Sept ’79, did construction then got a skiing job with the mountain: base bathroom and onslope portajohn sanitation called “Bowl Patrol,” a job description that still exists. Very little snow in Dec. meant a trip to Targhee to get ready. I had good gear, but was flailing for two (blue) runs on Crazy Horse. So I think, maybe I need to go faster? Bingo, in one turn I go from barely intermediate to advanced, no worries after that. Rendezvous was my skiing world for a 100-day-long season, until bang in May, broken neck and paralysis.
3) Went to Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center in 1982, their 2nd year, skied in little bathtubs, “Arroya” and “Mountain Man.” They worked OK in soft snow. I bought one and skied locally in KY and IN, actually there were 3 local ski areas then. But the hard snow and the drag-the-short-pole-in-your-hand method of braking to turn was hell on my shoulders. To simulate this, cut your poles short so that the base of your grip rests *on* the basket, i.e. no shaft, then scrape this stub (“ski brake”) on the snow to turn. Try it on ice… In 1983 I went to Santa Cruz to see the Arroya’s designer, Peter Axelson, and said (along with many others), “this needs a ski under it!” In year he did just that and still uses that unit to this day.
4) From KY then Maine I moved to SoCal in ’87 and visited Tahoe in ’90, having just heard there was a *real* sit-ski: one ski, outrigger skis, suspension, the works. I did it a few times at Alpine Meadows and fast became an intermediate again, after a decade. But they kinda left me alone out there, taking interest in the less-disabled skiers. So that and the 8-hour drive led me to do other sports.
5) Moved to Nebraska in ’95 for work, then back to KY. Decided to look again at sit skiing in 2009 and holy shit, there’s a local adaptive program! But the main instructor sucked, the gear wasn’t set up right (the ski was mounted one *foot* too far back), back to intermediate on ice. Busted my head bad on one fall and lost a year to subdural hematoma, but skied a little each season. Finally went west to Breck in 2012, returned to Jackson in April 2013 and March 2014. Then a great*** first-year local sit skier named Odie Pierce said, “Dude! Except when riding the lift, we high-level paraplegics *must* have our seatbacks locked *forward* to ski!” That simple little nugget transformed my skiing, just like that first impulse many years ago to try more speed. The next day I was doing this
in an easy-but-slow children’s dual ski (my gear had problems), and went much faster using my mono ski the next day. After 34 years, I’m finally back to blackness and more trips west including mighty Jackson in March.
***Odie, a high-level paraplegic like me (nearly quadriplegic) from birth, skied for the first time last season. He has skied around 40 days in his life, oddly about the same on-snow sit-ski time I've had in all this time. In February, with another Steep-and-Deep Adaptive Camp participant, he skied over 40,000 vertical feet in one day at Targhee... OFF PISTE. That's 20 summit laps and 25+ miles long! They were the very first on the chair and took no breaks until down from the *very* last chair. Among other things, that means no water all day. Am I a good sitskier? After you see Odie, not just no, but **** no.
Edited by whippersnapper - 9/29/14 at 4:21am