Crash and Burn!

Not really me!

Last summer Nick was the Team Captain of a American Cancer Society Relay For Life team in Arlington. Bend also has an annual Relay For Life event and Nick has started building his team of Bend High School athletes to contribute and participate in the relay this July.

Today we ran the pre-event “Hope on the Slopes” up at Mt. Bachelor. He roped five fellow X-C and Nordic Ski Team members along, plus me. I wrote the names of the 3 closest-to-me Cancer Survivors/Victims on my bib: My mom, Carol Goolsbee (Breast Cancer Survivor), my Grandfather Charles C Goolsbee (died of Lung Cancer), and my great friend and long-time colleague Patrick J. Clark (died of Esophageal cancer in 2006.)

Prizes are awarded for most funds raised, most lifts skied, and (the whole reason I was there) most vertical feet skied. Anyone who has skied with me can vouch for the fact that I tend to ski fast. I love making long, loping hard-edged turns. I seriously trashed my knee playing hockey in my 20’s so I stay away from the crazy slopes of my youth, and now get my thrills from speed. I’m not an insane speed-freak, as I’m always in control, and don’t do high-speed fly-bys of slower skiers on the slopes. BUT, give me a fast groomer and open slopes and I can burn it up.

Today however – I just crashed and burned. Conditions were not good. In fact they were downright awful. High winds. Poor visibility. High winds. Temps in the low 20s. High winds. About 7″ of new snow and more coming down every minute. Did I mention it was REALLY windy?

My assignment for Nick’s team was to get as much vertical feet as possible. My plan was to just stick to the Pine Marten Express and bomb down the run “Thunderbird” which follows the fall line and lift line right down the middle of Mt. Bachelor. Up and Down as often as I could. After an hour of this I had accumulated 6000′ vertical feet of downhill skiing, which meant I was on track for ~36,000 vertical just on my own (assuming an hour break for lunch.)

I was going about 45 MPH* just under the lift about 2/3rds the way down the hill on my 6th run when something happened to me that hasn’t happened in the last several seasons of skiing… I fell.

My left ski caught an edge somewhere under the powder and shot out to the left. My ski came off instantly and I somersaulted violently down the hill. Hard. So hard I lost my poles. I also lost my helmet & goggles. I had all the wind knocked out of me, my coat filled with snow, and was dazed and confused for quite a while.

The folks on the lift above me would have called it a “yard sale” as equipment was strewn all over the slope.

My right ski stayed attached. After regaining my senses I rotated the right ski so it would be on the downhill side and got on my feet. Two skiers stopped and asked me if I was OK, and one of them kindly retrieved my ski and one pole which was quite a way up the hill. I grabbed my helmet, goggles, and other pole which was just a few steps above me. I thanked my good samaritans and put myself back together again and skied down to the lift. At the top something didn’t feel right. I was nauseated and uncomfortable, so took an easier run down, stopping often to rest. At the bottom I took off my skis and walked – and found out what was wrong. I’d pulled my right calf muscle so bad I could barely walk. Limping into the lodge, I decided my day was done. Sorry Nick!

I wish the conditions had been better, as I know I could have racked up 40,000—50,000 vertical feet with blue skies and groomers. =\

Maybe next year.

Despite my early exit, Nick and his team came in 2nd place in total vertical feet skied, and 1st in Most Lifts skied. Congrats Nick!

If you would like to contribute to Nick’s Relay For Life team, and help in supporting Cancer research, click here.

* I have a cool iPhone app which uses GPS and ski area data to track your skiing. This is how I know exactly how much I’d skied and how fast I was going when I crashed.

7 thoughts on “Crash and Burn!”

  1. Sheesh, sounds like a bad crash. Sorry to hear it. How does one “lose” a helmet? Aren’t they strapped on?

  2. Dang – I guess I spread the crashing disease for us old-timers this year… 🙂

    Glad to hear it was just a muscle pull, though, and not anything worse.

  3. Dan, the helmet was strapped on but the impact somehow dislodged the strap off my chin.

    David, two days later my muscle pull is OK but my neck hurts every time I move it! I rode in a friends car last night up to SF and back and found I had to lay my head on the headrest the whole time as even minor changes in speed caused my neck muscles to scream at me.

    Getting old sucks.

  4. A friend of mine at work, about 6 weeks ago, fell down whilst participating in a Senior’s DH contest at Winter Park: Mike’s in EXCELLENT health, runs miles EVERY day, has skiied for 40+ years.

    He fell down, smacked his helmeted head upon the icy snow and…that caused a stroke, and as a result is out of skiing this year, perhaps for good. He spent about a month at Craig, learning to do all the basic stuff again.

    Calf muscles..they heal..;)

  5. Just noticed the NOLS reference, re: Patrick Clark: Are you a NOLS graduate and did you know Paul Petzoldt?

    I met him once..what a guy!

  6. No, I never went to NOLS (as anything other than a job interviewee in the early 90s) and never met Petzoldt. I met PJC through a Network Manager’s user group in the early 90s. He was NOLS’ IT guy for many years, as well as being an instructor there. He lived in Woodinville, WA and “commuted” to Lander. He & I tried to hire each other more than once for various gigs, as we seemed to work really well together. He was a great guy and I miss him terribly. Despite being one of the healthiest humans you could imagine he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and it killed him quite rapidly – a bizarrely random thing really.

  7. No too bizarre a thing: I had a friend, Mark Uglesich, who was an Adonis: Never smoked or drank a day in his life, was a championship skier (essentially Bob Lange’s R&D “department” through the 70s), a guy who thought nothing of riding his Bottecchia bike from Denver to the top of Mt. Evans and back, IN A DAY.

    He got throat cancer, fought it hard for a year, but died in 2006. We took his ashes to a ski run I BET you’ve skied on, Golden Peak. His professional career started there and it was his last request to me. I still can’t belive he’s gone: I would have lost my Jaguar to him, had we ever bet who was going to shuffle off this mortal coil first. Shook me to the core of my being…

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