Even though my time skiing and ice-climbing in Colorado had been tiring, Scott and I decided to head up to Jay Peak, VT the Saturday and Sunday following my return because snow conditions were looking promising: a few inches of snow throughout Saturday and some more accumulation on Sunday, and mild(er) temperatures (caveat: for New England skiing standards. On one chair ride on Saturday, when temps were still a good 10-12 degF or so, Scott and another guy were “complaining” about how they were getting so warm – #eastcoastskierproblems). Despite a 3.30am wakeup on Saturday morning after a few hours of sleep and a four hour drive up to the resort, we managed to hold it together during the day on Saturday.
I feel like I am in the odd position of having done all my skiing before my big accident in the West (and abroad), but much of my very short three-tracking experience post-accident has been in New England. Therefore, I feel like I occupy this no-man’s land of not being used to/not having a reference point for East Coast conditions but also not being used to skiing in deeper snow with one ski/leg. I do not think I will ever like East Coast skiing. As Scott puts it, when he goes out and skis in Western areas, he thinks that conditions are so amazing he doesn’t know what he did to deserve such awesomeness; whereas, I think that such conditions are the norm. When there is fresh snow on icy crust in New England, East Coast skiers think these are the best conditions ever. I merely think I am in purgatory as opposed to hell. I have never been a glades/tree skier. I mean, why on earth would I ski in between trees when I had wide open, steep bowls out West??
But, I still find myself holding myself to incredibly high standards. Just because I have this disability and ski on one ski doesn’t mean that I should struggle in tougher, less familiar conditions, right? :(
Scott and I did a lot of advanced runs off the Jet Triple Chair*. We went down a bumps run which was icy, sparsely covered with lots of exposed rock, and had me cursing as to why I was putting up with this bullshit. It wasn’t pretty. Here is a video of me emerging from that shit-show of a run, and doing some turns underneath the lift. It’s a black-diamond run; it is hard to make out the bumps and the variable conditions (ice, dust on crust, etc), which made it more challenging.
As I watched this video, I noticed people on the lift turning their heads to watch me. My first reaction is to grimace, and think, Man, they must be watching me because I look “weird” and because I am moving so ungracefully. But when I allow myself to be a bit kinder to myself, I think, Oh, maybe they are looking at me because I’m going down a less than easy run on one leg?
A few inches of snow had accumulated by Sunday morning, so we got on first tram and I decided to try my wider Volkl Auras. Things did not go well. My leg was not as fresh, and every movement felt so onerous and painful. Scott says that when I was moving, I actually looked good. But it did not feel that way. As the morning progressed, I felt increasingly dejected, thinking, this is as good as I will ever get (which is pretty fuckin’ crappy). For some reason, with every single bump, every time I pressured my right shin, I felt like crying. I later found out that I had an edema on that right shin from cranking so hard on my ski boot buckles and having that one shin bear my entire body weight, as opposed to splitting the load between two shins. But, it didn’t occur to me that I had a slight injury. All that I was thinking was, WTF Wendy, this…you…are fuckin’ pathetic. I was on the verge of tears and just called it quits by 11.30am or so because what was the point of skiing if I was hurting and just not having fun.
I continued to beat down on myself the rest of the day on Sunday and into Monday. I felt like I had ruined a great weekend with Scott, and that I just plain SUCKED at skiing and would never ski the stuff I used to ski ever again. The thing is, even if I don’t, what is wrong with that?? The answer is, absolutely nothing. It’s just skiing. But reflecting on my disproportionate reaction just made me feel even shittier and start judging myself about my lack of perspective and inability to better control my reactions/emotions.
Incidentally, I am feeling better today. I am still looking forward to skiing in Alyeska, AK in another few weeks. I am trying to approach skiing in Alaska as a learning experience, rather than something to get down on myself on, even if I suck ass. And, also, an opportunity to meet and hang out with some cool people. There are worse things I suppose.
*Scott told me on Monday that he had hoped to get me on the Jet Triple Chair by next season; so I am one season, at least, ahead of schedule. This offered me little consolation. It reminds me of this guy I know who wanted to hit the slopes with me and wrote “We can stick to blue/green runs if you like.” I suppose one could defend him and say that I’ve advanced pretty darn quickly for someone skiing on one leg. But, still, I flipped him a big, figurative bird. He can look at my behind as I zoom past him.