The saga continues! I'm still alive and living in the van in Winter Park.Severely Long Thread Warning
I've spent the last couple of days just free-skiing and enjoying the freedom of being able to turn whenever the hell I want to, which has been great.
I've struggled the last couple days with thoughts of quitting racing, it hasn't been going well and hasn't been fun at all. I ski so that I can smile, since this adventure began I have only smiled when I have been free-skiing.
When I was injured and laid in hospital for 7 months staring at a ceiling, wondering how I was going to be able to get back in the hills again I learned about sitskiing and booked my first trip to Sweden before I was even discharged. For me skiing has always been about the freedom of being in the mountains and all about having fun.
Being in a wheelchair, the freedom of being able to carve down a slope at speed and go pretty much anywhere I want is a HUGE relief from the normal annoyances of trying to maneuver a wheelchair around and being fairly confined to flat sidewalks and such.
Two months after I left hospital I headed off to Sweden for a weeks skiing, I wasnt ready physically, after so long lying in a hospital bed, but I loved being back in the mountains. I bought a sitski and arranged to go to Canada for a season to really learn how to ski sitting down.
I kinda fell into ski racing as I was skiing with an ex paralympian ski coach and I saw racing as a natural progression. I also found that because I was a bit stupid and slightly reckless that I was pretty good at it, I enjoyed it but in reality I think I just enjoyed the fact that I was on the slopes everyday. I would go through the gates and then sneak off for a couple runs by myslef before having to go back to the course for the serious stuff.
I finished the Canadian season and headed down under for the Australian and New Zealand season because I wanted as much time on snow as possible, and I wanted to be the best I could be.
Returning to Canada for the next season (06/07) everything went wrong and I only got to ski maybe a week the whole season, desipte being 5 minutes from the hill and having no other commitments.
The thing with being paralysed is that the muscles arent used so they waste away to nothing (atrophy), so I dont have much cushioning on my butt anymore. Thats a problem when you have to sit down to ski. The biggest fear in my life is a pressure sore on my butt, I saw guys in hospital that were back in because of big open wounds of dead tissue, meaning they had to spend years lying on their stomachs to try and let everything heal. A lot of the time they dont ever heal and people can even die from them. (If you have a strong stomach, Google 'pressure sore'. Seriously, only if you have a strong stomach!)
I had a spot on my butt and there was no way I was going to ski and risk it developing into something more acute. I spent weeks and weeks trying to perfect the cushioning inside the sitski, I tried everything. The sitski is basically by boot, it's how I control the ski so it needs to fit like a boot too. trying to balance the tight fitting with enough cushioning to protect my ass was a nightmare and I never seemed to get it right. Each time I went up the hill to try things out I would either slop around inside the seat because there was too much soft foam and padding, or I would come away with a small spot on my butt because of too little padding and have to spend a week not skiing to make sure it didn't develop into a pressure sore.
And so my season was wasted.
In early april I found a company who could make me a custom fitted insert for the sitski, so I headed down to denver and spent a week being fitted and measured. During this process we discovered that each time I was turning and trying to gradually increase the edge angle, the sudden pop I would feel which nearly always made me wipe out was actually my left hip dislocating. (I broke my hips and pelvis when I broke my back, they didnt have too much time to put me back together and they knew I wasnt going to be running around anymore).
We worked on the seat and it's not perfect but it is a close as I think we could of got. I can ski without too much fear of a pressure sore, and I can control the ski without my hip dislocating or me sloping around in the bucket too much. But is was pretty much the end of the season and I had just a couple weeks left to free ski up in Banff.
That brings everyone pretty much up to the start of this thread, my 2007/2008 season and trying to make up for last seasons disaster. I was supposed to of entered all these NorAms last season and be looking towards making enough points mid season this season to qualify for the World Cup.
I decided to set out in the van to take in all the races this season.
Right now I have entered one event and crashed out of both races. I was naive enough to think that I would be able to get back in the gates at the same standard I left, despite not skiing for almost a year, and not training on gates at all.
Last season killed my chances, I thought I would be able to recover and just throw a load of skiing at it at again and make up for things.
The skill fade has been immense. Even though I know I can just keep at it and get that standard back again, I dont want to. I dont like being disappointed at the bottom of each run, I dont like beginning to hate skiing because I'm not at the standard I should be at and I dont like the fact that skiing has lost its sense of fun and freedom.
I fell into ski racing and thought it might be fun for a couple years, my girlfriend is wonderful enough to accept me disappearing away for months at a time, but I dont want to be away for this long every year for the next 5 years or so. Which is the timeframe it would take to be at a World Cup podium level.
I see no point in aiming to be mediocre and average, and especially no point in making myself miserable just so that I can be mediocre and average. And unless I really dedicated my entire life for the next 5 years to training and racing, at the detriment of every other aspect of my life, I would only be mediocre.
So, I have pulled out of the races next week and am going Cat-Skiing instead. Bring back the smiles!!!
I might drop back into a race course in a couple weeks and see how it goes, but for now I really dont care about it at all, I'm just free skiing and getting that sense of complete freedom back again. Skiing is fun again.
I'm still continuing with the whole van adventure, but it's now all about the fun and freedom again. I'm going to stay in Winter Park for the rest of the year and do a couple Cat-Skiing trips on the side. Then after new years I think I might just drive around and ski at as many hills as I can.
I'll definitely post a TR of the Cat-Skiing with pics and hopefully a load of video too. I'll try and post an update on the state of the van too, it's going fine still, but velcro doesn't stick forever.
There is no way I am reading back through all that crap to proof read it and check for mistakes