Right in the Middle of a Wipeout

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As a kid, I was a pretty cautious skier—always holding up the rear of my group of friends, opting for packed powder over glades and slalom runs over moguls. I was, however, a good skier. I started ski lessons at age five or six and was surprisingly dedicated to maintaining excellent form on the mountain. Despite my years of lessons, excessive caution got me into a few pretty terrible situations.

My most memorable crash was at the Cranmore Resort in North Conway, NH. I was around ten or eleven years old—already half a decade into my skiing career and tackling the hardest runs the mountain had to offer. Cranmore is a family resort, which means most of the runs are pretty tame. There is one, however, that rivals the black diamond runs at nearby Attitash and Wildcat–“Middle.”

I’d skied Middle a few times, but always in good conditions. On this particular day, the snow was hard-packed and iced over—not the best for a straight shot and steep run from the peak to the lodge. Per usual, I was holding up the rear; my friends had chosen to bomb down in segments, gaining speed for a few yards then slowing into a hockey stop. I, ever the cautious kid, was trying to “use the whole mountain” by taking shallow, conservative turns. By the time I got a quarter of the way down, my friends were already at the bottom.

At some point during the descent, I hit a particularly nasty patch of ice. This wouldn’t have been catastrophic on its own. However, I hit it while finishing a turn, caught an edge, and was sent flying full-speed down the mountain. Too icy to stop, I tried to move my ski tips to the side to slow down. This only worsened the situation as I caught another edge and began to lose balance. Here I was, a ten-year-old skier, flying straight down the toughest trail on the mountain, about to lose balance, when…

I fell. I don’t know if it was intentional or if the caught edge had done me in, but I fell hard. I lost almost every piece of equipment I was wearing—both skis, both poles, and (somehow) a glove. I tumbled and rolled right to the bottom of the slope, finally stopping just a few feet short of the wooden lodge entrance. I sat up, surveyed the situation, tested my arms and legs for broken bones (nothing broken), and, sobbing, collapsed.

Though I broke no bones on that fateful fall, I’d tumbled down at least a third of the mountain’s vertical. Unable to ski the rest of the day, my mother took me home so I could watch the bruises bloom on my arms and legs. When they did, I swear—I looked like Grimace. I still think about that fall every time I drive past Cranmore, and my family never lets me forget how ridiculous that stupid fall was.