Free Fallin’…

free-fall-1

I can do this, I tell myself.

I’m standing on top of Free Fall, the steepest run on the mountain.  

And I’m a bit nervous.   Which dosen’t happen too often.

Not that I mean to sound arrogant, but I’m a pretty decent skier.  I’ve been doing this sport for over 40 years.   I can ski down almost anything.  

Sure, there’s stuff I find difficult…but there’s not too much out there that actually makes me nervous.

But Free Fall does.   

But I don’t feel bad.     Even some ski instructors will admit the same.   

It’s not a very long trail.  Perhaps only a few hundred vertical feet.  But what it lacks in size, it makes up for in steepness.   In places, it’s a 45 degree slope.  

That itself would make it a respectable expert run.  But as an added bonus, there are trees randomly dispersed on the hill.    And the snow is ungroomed and unpredictable.   Not to mention a few branches are sticking out here and there, to make things more interesting.

free-fall-3

free-fall-2

 

Looking down, I remind myself that if I fall, it might be all the way to the bottom.   Unless I play human pinball, and wrap myself around a tree.

It doesn’t matter that I’ve done this run many countless times before.   Each time feels like the first.     I stand there with a sinking feeling in my stomach.

I can do this, I repeat.   

Shoulders facing downhill, I hop slightly, and pivot my skis in mid-air, and take the plunge.

Dammit!   The skis sink too deeply, unexpectedly.  There’s been too much sun on the slope,  and the snow surface is rotten.   I catch an edge, try to compensate with my second turn, and suddenly lose my balance.

The next thing I know,  one of my skis pops off, and I’m sliding down the hill,  arse-backwards.

As I fall, I mutter something along the lines of “fiddle-dee-dee“, suddenly aware that I’ve  torn knee ligaments before on the ski slopes. 

Luckily, my boots dig in the snow and I manager to stop my plummet.   It’s just a minor spill.    My wayward ski is 50 feet below me, and I have to swallow my dignitiy and slide down on my butt to go get it.

free-fall-4

 I see Friar’s Mom, not too far down. (For once, she’s not zooming way ahead of me).

Time to re-group.  I traverse, find a good patch of snow, and start turning again.

My instinct of self-preservation tells me to lean back into the hill,  and twist my body away from the steep slope.

But remembering ski lessons from years past, I know that’s just WRONG.    Contrary to what my gut tells me,  I take a leap of faith, face my shoulders forward, and lean forward DOWN the slope,  with my skis perpendicular to my body.

Holy crap!….Here goes.

 It works.  I carve one short turn, followed by another. 

There’s an exhilarating rhythm to this…a series of controlled falls, one after another:  extending, feeling weightless, pivoting the skis,  and compressing.    Extension, weightlessness, compression.  Again and again…if you do it right, there’s NO better feeling in the whole world. 

YAHOOOOO…!!  I cry out.    All fear is gone…now it’s just plain fun.    I’m not even aware of how steep everything is….my adrenaline is flowing…each turn causes a mini avalanche of snow and ice,which I overtake,  my rate of descent is so fast.     This is the feeling I’ve been looking for…these brief few seconds of exhilaration.

All too soon, I’m at the bottom.  I look up to see what I’ve just skied down.    

 free-fall-5

I’ve conquered Free Fall yet one more time.   (Well, sort of).     Let’s call it a draw.

At the very least,  I managed to get to the bottom without wrecking myself.

I catch up with Friar’s Mom.  

She rolls her eyes.   This isn’t her favorite run.   Next time, she suggests, why don’t we do an easier double-black diamond mogul run instead?

I agree.   But I still want to do Free Fall again.

Just maybe not today.

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16 Comments on “Free Fallin’…”

  1. Kelly Says:

    Friar,

    WOW. The second photo is sooo scary looking.

    Glad you made it out with your knee intact. It must be a good feeling, conquering something that’s taken you out before. Crazy, but good.

    Regards,

    Kelly

    P.S. The sky in the last photo is amazing. Nature is sometimes so beautiful it’s not believable, and you captured it in that one.


  2. “Holy Crap”

    Truer words never spoken…;-)

    And ahhhhh. Nice run. Counter intuitive to lean so far forward… probably like learning to hike out over the water, lean back over it, instead of staying tucked into the boat, really cuts through the waves when the wind is up.

  3. Friar Says:

    @Kelly
    I didn’t take my knee out on this specific run…but I DID take it out on this exact mountain.

    Friar’s Mom doesn’t like this run. She did it to humor me. Next time, I need to find someone else to go with me.

    @Janice
    Yeah, leaning forward pointing your shoulders downhill makes the skiing so much easier. (But it’s one of those counter-intuitive things that beginners have a hard time accepting). Probably like sailing.

    I haven’t had a “Holy Crap” moment today. But I’ve had a few “fiddle-dee-dees” and “fudges”. Especailly when I catch an edge when I don’t want to.


  4. “Free Fall.” I love the name! Who gets the fun job of naming ski runs? If the powers that be are reading this, please hire me next time. I won’t let you down. (Get it? “Down”? As in “down” the mountain? …)

  5. Brett Legree Says:

    Good thing the mountain wasn’t called “Ball Buster”…

  6. Eyeteaguy Says:

    See, I was right. Every other post is funny.

    I’ll pretent I didn’t read this one and you can pretent I didn’t comment.

    I’m going to hit my back button now and look at the penis icicle. (penisicle?)

    Eyeteaguy

    P.S. Doing the opposite of what your gut tells you is officially called “fighting you survival reactions”. The same goes for motorcycle racing. If you are sliding, accelerate, if you are not going to make the turn, turn more etc. Glad to see the priciple applies everywhere. I just think we were not meant to go so fast…. so that is why we do.

  7. XUP Says:

    Fiddle-dee-dee? Ya, that’s what I’d be saying, too.

  8. Friar Says:

    @Rebecca

    “Won’t let you down”. (Groan).

    Oh, naming trails is all very political, apparently. They’ve actually had some runs named after prominent skiers, and then later changed the name, when that person fell out of favor with the ski hill.

    @Brett
    Yeah…”Free Fall” is such a FRIENDLY sounding name. It should be “Nut Cracker” or “Ball Buster” or something.

    @Eyeteaguy
    I think the problem here, is I’m on vacation. And when I’m on vacation, I’m HAPPY, so there’s not as much to rant about.

    Wait till next week, when I get back to work, and the Friar will be his old crusty self.

    PS. Normally, I wouldn’t touch my blog during vacation. Except the ski hills close at 4:00. So even if I drink lots of beer later, there’s still plenty of time to write.

    @XUP
    I’m not sure what I said. You can ask Friar’s Mom…she got to hear it first-hand. 🙂

  9. Kelly Says:

    Friar,

    Thank goodness the hills close at 4, then. It’s been a most enjoyable vacation for your readers!

    Until later,

    Kelly

  10. Eyeteaguy Says:

    If you are HAPPY then I will deal with a 50% funny rate. Consider it my sacrifice to you.

    Keep in mind that if I had to sacrifice for Brett it would be small and furry. PETA hates when Brett does something nice for me. They start closing Zoo’s early and hiding the traps.

    Eyeteaguy

  11. Friar Says:

    @Eyeteaguy

    Why don’t you sacrifice veggies instead of critters? (I hate veggies anyway….get rid of ’em!) 😉

  12. Friar Says:

    @Kelly
    But maybe I haven’t been as “funny” these past 10 days. Is that what my readers needed a break from? 😉


  13. Multifaceted… Do not think for a minute that is not a good thing.;-)

  14. Friar Says:

    @Janice

    Depends which facets you have! 🙂

  15. Duane Says:

    You know, no matter how you try to take a picture of a ski slope it never really shows the true pitch. I am guessing this is out West due to the fact that there is no death cookies.

  16. Friar Says:

    @Duane

    Yep…this was out West. With actual SNOW. (And not the KKKkkkkk-kkkkkkk scrape of skis on ice, going down the hill).

    I tried to capture the steepness of the slope…but you’re right. The photos just don’t show it. Suffice to say, this one was a bit scary.


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