Category Archives: Snow

Concussions and Comrades.

Head InjuryMy most epic of bungles always seem to be born of these moments of perceived desperation. Or, well, maybe desperation isn’t the right word, but… Moments that urgently need to be seized.

I haven’t surfed in a few weeks, so I’ll push myself twice as hard today. (Or, nearly drown.) The end [of summer] is nigh; That rope swing is THE key to rounding out the season. (Or, to breaking my fingers.)

You know, I hadn’t heard many stories about the perils of rope swings until I began sporting a massive splint on my middle finger while struggling to pull espresso. Then, commiserators appeared with peculiar frequency. “Ah, I once shattered both patellas on a rope swing,” they’d say, as if relieved to finally admit that they harboured hard feelings toward a favorite symbol of youth’s wild abandon.

Skiing, on the other hand, is a pastime fraught with tales of terrific crashes and nature’s fury and the consequences of “one, small misstep.”

Personally, I’d experienced a few mediocre falls on skis. That time I got more air than I could handle and skittered down the Dumont Cup course in spectacular fashion. On my back. That time I forward rolled down Airglow on a powder day. Thankfully, I think my years of gymnastics had finely tuned my chin-tucking instincts and I’d never really bonked my noggin.

Last Saturday, I was in prime carpe diem mode (spring is imminent) when suddenly, I was face down on White Heat. Stupid mistake. I am the queen of clumsy. But I was also in this headspace where it didn’t matter that my legs were tired; I needed to keep skiing. Soon, the snow would be slushy and corny, and then it would be gone.

Long story short, I am writing this between long blinks and purposeful stares at anything that isn’t emitting blue light, or any light, which hurts my brain. My instincts failed me this time.

Concussions are weird. This is my first (of which I’m aware) and hopefully, my last. I am really, really grateful that I always wear a helmet and that this particular folly resulted in a “Grade 1” concussion and nothing more. Despite my renewed appreciation for audiobooks, I have to say, these things still suck.

It’s easy to slip into a boo-hoo-I’m-all-by-myself mindset when doctors are saying things like, “Can someone drive you?” and “It’s better if someone’s there while you’re sleeping.” And the responses are “No,” and “Who?” respectively. I will not be complaining today, however.

Last Saturday night, I declined my friends’ offer to sleep in their guest room; I kind of just wanted to be home. But admittedly, I’d heard way too many “don’t go to sleep with a concussion” warnings not to be wary of shuteye. So, um, what I’m about to disclose may make me sound paranoid, but I asked my West Coast friend to call and wake me up before she went to sleep (2 a.m. my time). And another friend to call me when she woke up to go to work (at 6). They both did. And a couple of people texted me in the morning. I didn’t feel alone. And I realized that in my experience, most situations in which you initially feel completely alone turn out to be the ones that make you feel least alone. Think about it.

P.S. I hear a side effect of concussions is saccharine prose.

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Five Questions with Colin Boyd and Jackie Paaso

the first chair

You might think that something with “free” in the name seems out of place in our Competition Issue, but in the case of the Freeride World Tour, you’d be sorely mistaken. The FWT is one of the most intense competition circuits—and competitors ride some of the most extreme faces—on the planet: Chamonix, Revelstoke, Verbier… the list goes on.

Jackie Paaso, 31, who finished third overall last year and just won her favorite event at Chamonix, started skiing at age 4. At Sunday River. Colin Boyd, 27, managed to qualify for the FWT this year with no sponsors to speak of and banked a solid eighth-place finish at his first event. Both are graduates of Gould Academy and the Sunday River School of Awesome, which totally exists, so we asked them to tell us a bit about life on Tour and, well, life in general. They happily obliged (as…

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Tough Mountain Challenge Does. It. Better.

the first chair

I have never participated in a Tough Mudder. But I’ve kind of always been drawn to them. Blame it on some weird, G. I. Jane-style aspirations leftover from when I was a little tomboy, I guess.

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Simon Dumont. Go Bigger: Go Home.

the first chair

What does a guy whose nickname is the “Godfather” of freestyle skiing aspire to? Bigger and better, of course. Simon Dumont has arguably done more for halfpipe skiing than any other, and he’s got 10 X Games medals and an AFP world title to prove it. While Dumont mostly splits his time between Colorado and Florida, home will always be Maine. Six years ago, Dumont created The Dumont Cup at his home mountain, Sunday River, which also happens to be where he set the world quarterpipe height record—just sayin’. After a knee injury in late January, he’s on the mend at Olympic facilities in Park City, Utah. Come March, though, he’s returning to Sunday River for his annual event, and he’s bringing grand designs of designing the grandest terrain park in the East and, just maybe, in North America.

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Learning Curve: The Road Less Traveled.

Wizard's Gulch

Full disclosure: I have been skiing for a long, long time. Well, I’m 28 and I’ve been skiing since I was 3. Okay, here comes the disclosure part. I’m still not that good at it. I mean, I suppose “good” is all relative, but I can’t ski the way a lot of my friends do, flying between moguls or dropping cliffs with seemingly small effort.

I grew up skiing the East Coast, exclusively, where groomers rule and rules abound. My parents also happen to be strictly on-pisters. Last year, I skied New Zealand, which is what I like to call a lawless land.

Deterrents. Cardrona.
Deterrents. Cardrona.

While it may not truly be “lawless,” New Zealanders are definitely a lot more blasé about what actually constitute boundaries and who may ski within (or outside of) them. Continue reading

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A Tale of Two Climbs.

The thing about tequila is… just kidding.  Unlike this story, today’s tale of misadventure has nothing to do with tequila. It has to do with lots and lots of vodka and one damning, ill-conceived shot of some horrendous cinnamon liqueur. (It was free.) And also, some unfortunate weather.

I woke up on Saturday morning and asked myself, “Where am I?” And then I looked down at my watch, which read 10:30, and asked, “Is that a.m. or p.m.?” Friday night was a doozy. I think…

Here’s the back story: Red Bull’s Frozen Rush, a truck race that took place on ski slopes, has been the center of our universe for a while. It didn’t just go off without a hitch on Friday. It was a great success. So, we celebrated.

Saturday morning didn’t go quite as smoothly. As laid on the floor, gingerly sipping ginger beer and forcing down some DiGiorno, I heard from various sources how terrible the roads were. Sheets of ice = general consensus. It was 12:45 before I deigned to attempt a homeward journey. I successfully (if slowly) navigated 90% of the trip, which was great, because I didn’t have my license on me. But then, I got less than halfway up my mountain-climbing road before my car, Ethel, would go no further. The road hadn’t been sanded at all and the car just couldn’t gain any traction. I bumped the first of many snow banks and somehow turned my car halfway around before it began sliding, sideways, down the hill. I’m not sure if it was the powerful over hang or extraordinary mental fortitude, but I remained calm. I was able to get the car facing the right direction, which gave me false hope. From that point on, I had absolutely zero control over the vehicle. I slid into a snow bank, crawled out of the rut, slid straight into another one, five feet down the road. Rinse and repeat.

As much as it pained me, I decided I had to leave Ethel. The question at this point was whether to hike up to my house or down to someone else’s and call for a ride. Down was a lot shorter. But my phone was dead, so I’d have to knock on a stranger danger’s door and request to use his or her phone, reeking of poor decisions. I opted for the climb.  Continue reading

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