Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Warm-Up

My snowboard Luna is currently enjoying her third season of life in my possession. Already she has been with me to Mt Tremblant, Zermatt, Breuil-Cervinia, Geneva (just tagging along), Blue Mountain, and yesterday to Swain in NY. For those who are counting, that's 4 countries including two in Europe and two in North America, two different provinces and soon to be two different states. The only places I've ridden without her would be Big White and Panorama in BC because I was still renting at that point. Karen's horses have passports. Why not my snowboard?

This weekend Luna and I went to NY to do some trial snowboarding in the States. The day started rather inauspiciously when I only got about 4 hours of sleep for various reasons. Then when we got to the hill after breakfast, it was about -8C but quite windy. Not exactly balmy conditions but I told myself I'd survived night snowboarding at Blue when it was -15C before wind chill. Since my body regularly has difficulty thermoregulating itself, I know how to dress for cold and this I did.

After getting the rentals and lesson set up for the other friends, I headed up to the top of the "mountain" to try a few runs with my friend Sean. Our first choice was a black diamond run (black diamond is most difficult at this place) that, strangely enough, ended in the green beginner section. Uh, okay. I'm not sure who designed that one but it seemed strange to me to have a very challenging steep run where one would probably pick up a fair amount of speed end up in a slow flatter area where you have to dodge a variety of struggling and fallen snowboarders and skiiers but whatever.

On our next ascent, we decided we'd try an area to the right that was more sheltered in the trees since we were slowly freezing to death on the glacier slow chair lift. We should have known trouble was brewing. A long flat section preceeded the start of the run. As we shuffled our way across this area, it quickly became evident that we were riding in less than ideal conditions. Both Luna and Sean's board were well waxed and tuned but the snow was akin to trying to traverse peanut butter. Luna adhered fairly well to the snow instead of gliding over it and Sean's board didn't fair much better. Normally I can shuffle Luna for a bit, gain some momentum then put my back foot up on her stomp pad and ride her a ways to get across flat sections more quickly and with less effort. This was not the case.

Finally we got to the start of the run. I strapped my back foot into my binding and headed off. Still a fairly flattish section (a plague to snowboarders or at least to me) and I was a bit worried to see numerous dirt sections. For the record, dirt and snowboarders don't mix well. These I avoided and soon picked up some more speed as the hill started to slope more. Around a tight corner, past more dirt and don't hit those icy patches! While trying to check behind me to ensure I hadn't lost Sean, I was keeping an eye ahead of me for peril and the trail. Suddenly a skiier ahead of me turned off to the left while another went straight to where I could see this run meeting another. Which way to go?

I started checking over to my left to figure out if this was a branch in the trail when the next thing I knew I was violently hurled to the ground and rolling over. OW!!! When I came to a stop, my knees, left wrist and left armpit were in serious pain and I started to cry. Yes, I cry. It really really hurt! Fortunately I knew nothing was broken. With Aspen less than two weeks away, that was my first concern. But bloody hell! Sean stopped to check on me and told me I'd hit an icy section and I must have caught my front edge. Judging by my colourful knees (see above photos) and inability to move my left arm much, I categorize my injuries as follows: bilateral knee contusions, sprained left armpit (my definition) which is probably just muscle strains in my chest and upper arm. This morning I discovered I also injured my right trapezius muscle again so my neck and upper back hurt right now, most likely from my head snapping forward when I fell. Luna's damage: zero

When I was finally able to stop crying and drag myself upright, I slowly made my way to the bottom of the hill where I quickly put myself on the DL and wrote myself a prescription to go get a hot chocolate with a side of Advil. I learned a long time ago that I should always have Advil at hand when I snowboard for days like this or the time I landed a jump on my nose by accident. Sean decided to help Scott learn to snowboard while Brett was still at his ski lesson so I took my time. Unfortunately for all of us, most of the "mountain" was very hard packed snow and numerous sections of ice along with the 20-25km/h winds which made for less than ideal conditions. We had planned to go tubing in the afternoon but after a few more runs by each of us, we packed it in, said our goodbyes and went home. I sure hope my experience in Aspen is much better!

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