Sunday, March 15, 2015

SOLSC March 15 - Off the Cornice

Join me as I participate in the March Slice of Life Story Challenge. Other "Slicers" can be found among my students in the comments of my class blog. There are also several hundred teachers participating at

Uh Oh!

I was leaning way too far forward, my speed seemed to be increasing exponentially, and all of my weight was on my leg with the bad knee. As my body tried to recover, my brain implored, "Don't get hurt!"
Off balance after landing. Will Max recover or will he wreck? 

*  *  *  *  *
"Don't get hurt," was the last thing my wife said before I headed up skiing for the day. There may have been a "Have fun," and "Love you," thrown in there but it was 5:30 in the morning and she was still warm and sleepy while I was starting to sweat in my long underwear and ski pants.

I was excited! It was my first day up on the mountain this year and I would get to ski with my uncle and cousin who were finishing a week-long Colorado ski trip. The plan was to go meet up at A-Basin, ski, eat ribs cooked by my dad in the parking lot and have a fun day! The weather would be perfect for some low key skiing, even if the bright sun and bluebird skies meant sunburns and some icy snow before things got warmed up a little. 

Don't get hurt was a good thing to keep in mind. I tore the ACL in my left knee fifteen years ago and have had one other sugery on it. At this point, I have some cartilage damage and my orthopedic doctor tells me it's likely I'll need a knee replacement, eventually. I wear a brace when I do athletic things, don't jog any more and still, my knee gets tweaked every few months and hobbles me for a day or a week. Despite the fact that I ski only a couple of times a year, it's like riding a bicycle and after I warm up, I'm almost as good as I ever was. And I baby the knee a little, trying to put myself in good situations and not pushing myself by doing big jumps or lots of bumps.

The Basin was just as expected. We cruised around looking for the best snow, even hit a couple of double diamond runs, steep, bumpy and narrow. Lunch was tasty, the sun brilliant and the only three colors were white snow, green spruces, and blue sky. Now we were on the West Wall, a ridge along one side of the ski area, with a cornice along the top of it that dropped off two-to-eight feet into the steep run. I've been jumping off this cornice since I was five and have full confidence in my ability to land.

"You going to jump off Max?" my uncle asked.
"Want me to take your picture?"
I handed him my phone and showed him where I'd be jumping off.

Take 1 - I skied along the top, took a quick speed check and gave a little hop off the cornice, mugging for the camera with a smile and a tiny mule kick. I landed cleanly after dropping 6-7 feet, turned quickly to the right and skied across the hill until I slowed and came to a stop.

"Missed it!" my uncle said.
We skied to the bottom and went up for another run on the wall because the snow was so good.

Take 2 - After showing my uncle how to just hold down the button for continuous shooting, I started down again. And now you're caught up.

Uh Oh!

I was leaning way too far forward, my speed seemed to be increasing exponentially, and all of my weight was on my leg with the bad knee. As my body tried to recover, my brain implored, "Don't get hurt!" I also didn't want to wreck in front of my uncle and cousin since it could be a potential yard sale where they would have to collect and bring me poles, skis and whatever else, if I "bit it." Plus, I might get hurt.

Bending my knees, I fought to get my weight on my uphill, and right, ski. With a lower center of gravity, I was able to eat up a couple of bumps and get my skis across the hill, slowing down one hundred feet lower than the last jump. My heart was pumping and my bad left knee throbbed. Breathing heavily, I did a systems check to determine if it was injured or just a little tweaked. Definitely tweaked but not injured.

Bob came over and said, "You were a lot higher than I expected. I might have missed it again." Looking through the pics on my phone, I found one of the bottom of my skis and the next showed me off-balance, fighting to remain upright.

Some good air and a cheesy grin (out of frame) 

Take 3 - We skied down to the lift and I tested out the knee. While it was a little painful I was sure I was fine. A little ice that evening and I should be good to go. We decided to give it one more run and I really wanted a picture so I decided to jump off the cornice again. I was confident I could hop off in a controlled way to stay safe, even if my wife's words Don't get hurt were ringing in my brain.

It went off without a hitch and my uncle finally got me nicely framed cheekily smiling at the camera before I spotted my landing and made an easy turn across the hill. A day later, my knee hurts a little but it's the kind of pain that will go away over the next couple of days and is well worth the great day and this final picture!


  1. Wow! After three ttys and a sort of injury, you still made it! Thats a great pic. Max. I like how you went back in time then caught up on your story. Nice slice.

  2. So glad you had this day. Saw that one pic on FB-fabulous! You look professional!

  3. What a fun slice! Thanks for sharing. It's also humbling.

  4. classic Uncle Bob - technology fails