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.

Car Photo of the Day: Just for Bill “WRD” Dickson.

Saw this car, thought of Bill

My good friend and longtime colleague Bill Dickson has a weakness for Scandinavian cars. Every time I see a vintage Northern European two-stroker, odd V-four, or similar – I think of Bill. This machine was spotted on a recent biz trip to the Seattle area, on I-5 near “the brewery”. Here you go Bill! This Saab’s for you.

Killing Time

I’ve never felt, much less understood the concept of, boredom. My eyes & brain never fail to keep me entertained. Yesterday I flew from RDM to DIA for a quick trip to visit my parents (more on that soon) and my flight left just before noon. Sue dropped me off several hours earlier because she had work to do, and could not manage to drop me off closer to my flight time. I checked my bag, read the newspaper… and then just left the airport with my iPod, my camera, and just went for a walk. The Redmond airport is east of the town of Redmond and pretty much cut-off from it by a set of railroad tracks. The tracks only have crossings at the north & south side of town, so the area around the airport is quite isolated. The landscape is typically central Oregon, with gnarled Junipers and spots of Cheatgrass amid the dry sandy soil. I walked a mile or so and then turned around to start heading back when I noted a storm squall bearing down on me. I made it maybe one-third of the way back to the shelter of the airport when it arrived with mixed rain and snow. My coat was in my checked bag, and all I had on for warmth was a lightweight pile vest. I sought the shelter of a Juniper tree and waited out the storm. The tree kept the wind and most of the precipitation off of me as I stood under it for the better part of an hour. I wasn’t bored. I was maybe 50 meters away from something I planned on photographing (some old piles of melting snow) and thought about how I would try and shoot these in a way that played tricks with scale. Are the images of Alaskan glaciers, or small piles of snow? After a while I started seeing small beauty in the tree that was giving me shelter from the storm.I had my 20mm f/1.7 lens on the G1, and fired off a few shots of the tree…

The Juniper tree that provided me shelter from the storm.

The Juniper tree that provided me shelter from the storm.

The Juniper tree that provided me shelter from the storm.

The melting snow that originally caught my eye as we drove by, and what I went on this walk to photograph.

The storm abated and I was able to walk to the melting snow piles, and then finally amble back to the airport… with a couple of hours to spare before my flight. So if you ever find yourself bored, just open your eyes and look around – there is plenty of beauty, at every scale from the microscopic to the universal to behold.

Nick Update.

I’m really proud of my son Nick.

We moved last summer from near Arlington, WA to just outside Bend, OR. This happened between his Sophomore and Junior years at High School. Moving when you are a kid is tough, and moving as a teenager is even tougher. My parents moved when I was a teenager and I was morose for the next several years. Not Nick. Despite leaving the place he grew up, a place where he had accumulated quite a nice group of friends, he has hit the ground running here in central Oregon. He ran Cross-Country in the fall, and at the urging of several of his teammates, decided to give Nordic skiing a try. The very first time he ever put on XC skis was on November 20, 2010. Three months later, last weekend he competed at the Oregon State High School Championships… and placed 26th in the state!

Here’s a few photos of him from the meet:


And a photo of the whole Bend High School Nordic Ski Team:

The 2010-2011 Bend Senior High School Nordic Ski Team. Can you spot Nick?

Here’s a clue for the sight-impaired. 😉