Literally. I came flying down a (steep ass) ski slope and plummetted chin-first into the rock hard snow.
I’m not gonna lie, it was pretty scary at the time.
It’s not every day you take a fall in the middle of a snow field and come back around wondering if you still have all your teeth.
“Did I break anything?” I wondered. “Am I alive?”
But looking back now, it’s kind of a funny story with somewhat of a happy ending.
Last Friday I had the day off, so my buddy Renee and I decided to get our first run in the snow for the season. I hadn’t skiied in probably over ten years and Renee hadn’t boarded in a little while, so we were both still learning.
After a bit of a slow start to the day, we went up to the top of the gondola at Sunshine Village.
When you arrive at the top of the gondola, you are greeted with a selection of chairlifts which whisk you away to a ski hill of your choice – each with a different level of difficulty.
Next to the lift which transports riders up to Strawberry, a hill that has been described as the “easiest and best to start with”, is a very gentle practice hill with a “magic carpet”.
In case you’re as unfamiliar as I was, the “magic carpet” is like a conveyor belt which you stand on to elevate to the top of a pint-sized ski slope to practice coming down.
The ski school and instructors use this area to prepare guests with the basics before they are levelled up and guided down Strawberry.
I used this hill to avoid paying for an entire lesson and see if I could get the hang of it myself. Rookie error number 1.
After about five runs down the small hill, Renee and I retreated for a beer and a burger.
We came out, gave it another few goes and were faced with the dilemma of deciding how we’d finish up the afternoon.
It was almost time for me to return my rental gear and we had two options – give the kiddy hill a few more goes and save Strawberry for another day, or say “fuck it” and head up Strawberry today.
I think you can figure which stupid idea my lunch time beer pushed me to suggest.
After I struggled to get on the damn seat to begin with, up we went on the chairlift, giddy as hell.
I have a video of me jokingly narrating the ride up, shouting comments like “WHAT HAVE WE DONE” and “OH SHIT, OH SHI-“.
Little did I know what was actually ahead of me.
We got to the top. The scenery was endlessly beautiful.
It was like looking out onto a neverending desert, only the hills were covered with snow instead of sand. I couldn’t believe what was in front of me.
If only I could have got back on the lift to come back down after taking in this glorious sight.
Apparently that’s not an option. But I soon figured out that walking, skiing or boarding were not my only choices to get back down to the base of the hill safely.
Let me tell you I tried to get down on skis. I really did.
I took the “green run” which is the easiest kind of run you can do down a snow-covered mountain. I followed a group of learners who were in a lesson to see if I could pick up a few last-minute tips.
But I felt bad having not paid for the advice, so I scooted around them and tried to make my way down the hill using my own devices.
How bad could it be?
Pretty fucking bad, actually.
I started gentle, and quickly accellerated into full-speed ahead. I mean, I literally felt like I was going at the speed of an olympian down this god damn hill.
“Ok,” I thought. “I can either panic right now, or I can rock this and hope for the best.”
I guess it’s good that I didn’t really panic until the last millisecond when I came out of my skis and felt my jaw smack into the ground.
There I was, in the middle of a snow-desert, faced with the embarrassing reality that I’d bit off way more strawbs than I could chew.
I looked around. My skis were strewn in the snow a few meters behind me. My staff pass had come unclipped and wasn’t too far from my footwear.
Nevertheless, I picked myself up off the cold floor. I probably would have stayed there if it wasn’t starting to soak my clothes.
I hobbled over to my skis and tried to put them back on to see if it would be any easier now that I’d tumbled down the worst part of the hill.
They wouldn’t click back into my boots.
What could I do? I didn’t want to call my boss because I knew I wouldn’t hear the end of it. With limited wifi, I couldn’t get a hold of Renee too easily (though I did eventually) because she was probably still riding down the hill on her board.
I spotted the ski instructor who I’d originally tried to sponge tips from and approached him.
“Uhh.. hey. I’m so sorry, but is there any chance you could call ski patrol to come pick me up? I think I overestimated myself and probably shouldn’t have come up here yet.”
And so kindly, he did.
But that’s not the final part of my happy ending.
My ride back down was a freakin’ snow-mobile. A god damn fast one at that.
The driver didn’t tell me where to hold on at first and so as I cursed to myself trying to figure out what to grab on to, I had visions of myself flying off and tumbling through the snow again.
But eventually I found the handles and relaxed slightly (but not too much. It was still freakin’ fast. Like damn.)
We got down to the bottom where Renee was waiting, and the driver turned around to hand me my skis.
He must’ve caught a glimpse of my staff ID.
“Oh, you work here,” he said.
“Yeah,” I cowered.
“That’s gonna get around.”
So I’ll be getting lessons before I head up there again any time soon. Word of advice: they are definitely worth it.