Merrick Pastore

My Fall

We are in Snowbird, on our second day of skiing in Utah.  It is the early morning, the skies seem as if a cloud blanket is draped over them, conveying a sense of dreariness over the whole mountain, and we were on only our second run.  When we all turned onto a black diamond, I am not fazed by it. “I hike up mountains and ski down them all the time, this is just as easy as a bunny hill” I think to myself.  I start off well, my legs moving in unison with one another as if I am being controlled by a puppeteer perched above the dark clouds.  As I get going faster, and faster, with the wind blowing into my uncovered mouth and chin, I enter a zone in which I hear nothing but the steady rhythmic sound of my legs turning sharply from side to side.  Soon, I feel like I am weightless, trees flying by me on my left and right, as I seamlessly pass other skiers cleanly as if they weren’t there at all.  With the visibility very poor from the mass of black clouds above me, I can only see about 10 feet in front of me, and because of this poor visibility, I do not see the steep lip awaiting me in the middle of the trail.  The lip itself alone is tough to see, and is made nearly invisible by the weather conditions, with a drop-off that can compare with a small cliff, seemingly asking for skiers to launch off of it carelessly  and tumble into the foggy oblivion that awaits below.  Skiing down at almost breakneck speed, the lip comes quickly to my sight, and I try to stop myself as snow flies up into my face and goggles from the sudden attempt to stop. 

This does almost nothing, and I fall over the lip, onto the steep merciless slope below.

As I fall over the lip, I utter a small merciful cry before I hit the ground, with one ski launching into the air as if from a snowy volcano, snow erupting all around it.  As the ski falls off, I tumble down the hill, yelling almost all of the way, with no response except for the snow seemingly being shoveled into my face.  I struggle to turn myself so my lone ski is leading me, and I can feel myself slowing down, as I desperately try to dig my fingers into the snow above me.  Finally, I can feel myself slowing dramatically as the slope straightens out, finally having mercy on my weary and numb body. 

After coming to a complete stop, I lie there for about a minute, my labored breaths making a small fog around my mouth as I try to wipe snow from my frozen and numb face.  I strain myself to look up, and realize that I had just slid about 100 yards, the length of a professional football field.  As I sit there contemplating it, I breathe a sigh of relief as a man who had been in my ski group begins his descent down, my snowy and ravaged ski in his left hand. 

As he yells to me, “Are you ok?! Man, that was one of the coolest falls I’ve ever seen! I was worried I would have to call Ski Patrol!” I can only lie there and realize how lucky I am not only to survive a fall of that caliber, but also to have someone in back of me who could bring my ski and help me up.  I shake off the snow from my slightly bruised but overall fine body, leaning on him heavily to put on my stray ski.  After both skis are on, I just look off into the now-clearing distance, slightly rattled up, but ready to again enter the zone of skiing bliss.  I push off, and immediately get back into a rhythm; one, two turn, one, two turn. 


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