Thursday, January 4, 2018

Holiday Season is SKI SEASON!

After the couple weeks off from school, Raquel has become a solid blue square skier.  We can't quite manage the black diamonds yet.  There are some outriggers for her ski that have yet to be delivered, but this extra device will prevent her from falling over during turns, which with EB could be a big potential for disaster every 2 seconds. I'm honestly a little worried about starting that based on how fun and fast we've become as a team.  It would definitely mean many years back to the bunny hill and teaching her all the basics of a new style of skiing for us both.

I can hear that little voice in my ear yelling  'patience Ryan!'.

So far this season we've tried our best to live on the hill as much as we can.  It has been great as we've stayed away from injury and over working her to the point where she complains 'Not again'. There are only two blisters that I can attribute to skiing related, but in places I am sure were not from crashing or the constant vibration and friction due to bumps and jumps that find their way into our path. It's clearly an issue with getting in and out of the chair and not having a quick release mechanism for the handle bar for her hands.

We have done it all so far, as we've skied powder, raced and played about the mountain with her sister, friends and mom!

It's truly been an amazing start to the season and worth the wait.

There have been a few moments where eyebrows have been raised at the run choices and styles of skiing Raquel and I have gone after.

One was an incident on a icy and foggy race course.  Friends have shown us video of the top and bottom of that run, but thankfully there is no evidence of our crash.

It ended up being a harmless sideways slide on the hard snow across the course.  Luckily toward the side of the course the kid we were racing was not.  I had my tip trapped in her bi-ski somehow and with the speed and typical obstacles present on race courses we had two choices,

One - turn back down hill before the gate and hope the ski comes free, although bailout would mean we'd be gaining speed where we shouldn't with almost no guarantee we'd be doing a safer tract.

or Two - keep the present line and lay down the sit-ski attempting a controlled crash and hope for the best!

So, I laid it down, problem was we'd lost too much of our angle while trying to get my ski out from under her skis and were headed directly at the gate.   I did everything to throw my feet below us to deflect the gate. Apparently we stayed on the right side of it not DQ(ing) ourselves from the race, because once we stopped on the far side of the course with our tips pushing at the B-net (safety net), I heard someone yell 'get up and go'.

However, at that moment I was more worried about Raquel's mood or possible injury.  It was unclear where her arms were during the crash.  It's actually a conversation we have every other run and prior to the start of this race.  I ask what do you do when we crash?  She answers.  How do you hold your arms? She shows me.

I crawled quickly up to her as she lay motionless and quiet asking if she was alright.

Clearly, she heard the same person yell 'GO!' and ignored my question and instead said 'Lets go!'.

So, without delay we got up and we finished the race.  The run from there on, was very exciting for us both, as we could see the kid in next lane as he had just overtaken us.  We worked very hard to catch up and pass him in the final couple gates. Raquel leaned sideways and lunged forward in her chair at each gate to help pivot and glide the bi-ski through the course.

Raquel mentioned many times after the race her excitement of winning the duel and the work it took to catch him!

Raquel was also quite lucky the Race Committee didn't penalize her for the extra 220 lbs. of inertia pushing her down the hill and finished with a respectable 6th in U8.

The other issue was totally avoidable.

Well, I guess to some, Raquel's crash above on an icy race course with only 7ish days of total bi-ski experience would have also been avoidable.  Should her father used the commonly held judgement of his peers and not race....

We had a powder day and as they say here in BC, 'no friends on powder days'.  Which basically means no rest until every bit of smooth clean snow is tracked and bumpy.  We had 4 dreamy runs where we could find a clean tracks from top to bottom.  Raquel and sled handled shockingly well and it was like driving a train down the hill.
After the second run she complained of all the snow flying up into her face, it was annoying and painful.  Geeze, who likes choking on powder on days like that?


It took a few moments to understand her predicament, but then realized her feet made a ramp for the snow flying up over the front of her sled right into her face.  When a upright skier goes through the deep it usually hits their chest first and we only deal with secondary powder puffs.  Raquel basically had her head in the end funnel of a snowblower.  We did a little corrective gear modification and back to it as fast as possible. The hoards were coming and soon the powder stashes suitable for the sit ski would be all gone.

When having too much fun, my tendency for safety eventually goes fully out the window.  With each run the mountain became more and more tracked. We literally had no choice but to keep moving further to the sides of the runs looking for those last sweet silky smooth powder puffs and the wonderful face-shots at every turn.

Eventually all good things come to an end.  Going for that last turn we found ourselves on the wrong side of a bamboo pole with a caution sign stuck to the top of it.  It wasn't until we got past the sign that I realized what we were to be cautious about.  At first glance it appeared there was only the snow cannon below to worry about, but as we swooped down for one more turn at the edge of the trees a 3' ditch wall hemmed us in toward the cannon.  I did everything in my power to get her to the top of the ditch and pick the smoothest line, but as momentum started to work against us once Raquel cleared the top I have a momentary image of seeing her and her machine completely airborne with snow chunks blasting off in every direction and her slowly twisting sideways in air we had lost all our forward momentum.  I wasn't even close to getting to the top and with this style of sit skiing I must be tethered to her handle so that in case of crash we don't get too far from one another.  Problem at this point was she was going to land at top of bank and I was going to land at the bottom backwards and upside down and there really wasn't much slack in the line to make up that distance.


My arms basically laid her sled flat in air and we came to a quiet and soft plunk in the deep snow.   Lucky for my aging body contorting in soft snow isn't like contorting on a yoga mat.  All I could see from the ditch was snow piled up all around her body and face.  I had a few moments of panic as I struggled to get my hands free and undue my bindings as it was virtually impossible to get my skis free of the snow to twist around.  As the seconds ticked by and Raquel not hearing or answering my questions of her wellness, I could see our spotter ski up with a big smile on his face.  He gently reached down to Raquel and pushed all the snow down and away from her face.  Raquel wasn't like with the race and requesting for us to get up and go!  She continued to say nothing and just laid motionless strapped into her chair.

Eventually I got up and set her up yet she still refused to speak.  We finished the short distance to the chair pushed through the line and up the chairlift.
It wasn't until we were half way up before she made her first words, I was very uneasy if she was angry, scared or something else, but her eyes were alight with adventure and joy.

She did however make it clear with a cautionary note, not to ski into ditches or go over jumps for the rest of the day.

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