Today was the day! I had kicked the bunny slope’s tail. I had shown the shorter, more gradual slopes of Patsy’s who was boss. I was comfortably stepping and gliding, getting on and off the lift with ease, riding normal- and goofy-footed, stopping on a dime, flipping over and popping back up from less-and-less frequent falls.
So… today was the day I was going to level up!
It was time for the big mountain – David and I hopped on the Stagecoach lift, rode up over 1000’ in elevation through the biting cold. I slid easily off the lift, skated my way over to the bench and strapped in. We stood looking out over the raw black-blue waters of Lake Tahoe for a moment, and then I scooted, scooted across the snow, to the edge of the unremarkable slope. One last quick sideways pulse of my left upper body and I was off – riding, slowing, riding, slowing – a little upward pressure on my front foot and I glided easily around the bend in the run.
And then, there it was… the inconceivable, the eventuality for which I hadn’t even thought to plan or practice. The 50 MPH wind gusts, the night before, had blown the snow off of the run as they had rounded the very same bend, leaving a patch of rock hard, slick ice, etched deep with grooves.
My disbelieving mind went into slow motion, as so often happens as disaster unfolds. I could seeeee one particular slice through the frozen ice as if I had all the time in the world to assess its every last nuance. I can remember thinking at a glacial pace, “hmmmm, that doesn’t look good. What should I do? What’s the best way to hit that? What’s the best angle? Am I going to fall? What’s the best way to fa…….” – as if I had eons to contemplate my soon-to-be predicament – and then there was no time at all. I hit the slice through the unforgiving ice at an indecisive angle – and straight down I went, stiff-armed, abruptly jarring my left shoulder upwards.
It didn’t hurt, but something felt strange – as if I’d suddenly grown a wing at the top of my shoulder, one that felt barely tethered but determined to fly. “Noooooo!!!!!! What have I done??? No, no, no!!!”
The inevitable trip to the doc-in-a-box revealed a shoulder AC separation at one connection point and strains at the other two. Fortunately, no surgery necessary! Whew! I now joined the ranks of all the other “dudes” that I suddenly saw everywhere around town, bound up in a sling, and told to under NOOO circumstances was I allowed to MOVE!!! No mean feat!
I was so disappointed in myself, so frustrated – all progress was now on indefinite hold. And worse, I suddenly had serious concerns as to whether this theory that I had developed, painstakingly over the past 4 years, was total GARBAGE…. (see “The Upside of Epic Failure” )