ODE

SKIERS’ LOVE/HATE RE­LA­TION­SHIP WITH FROZEN PRE­CIP­I­TA­TION STARTS ON THE SLOPES AND ENDS— OF­TEN WITH A THUMP—ON THE SIDE­WALK

SKI - - CONTENTS - By Rob Story Rob Story lives in pic­turesque, al­beit some­times icy, Tel­luride, Colo., and owns an im­pres­sive col­lec­tion of Yak­trax.

Icy slopes suck; icy side­walks are even worse. One writer’s pro tip: Wear gloves.

The nadir of my re­la­tion­ship with ski-town ice oc­curred on a frigid Jan­uary night in 2016. I was limp­ing through a Tel­luride al­ley, de­bil­i­tated by a spinal surgery two weeks ear­lier. While my peers shralped the best early-sea­son snow­fall in Tel­luride’s col­lec­tive mem­ory, I shuf­fled slowly along the town’s whitened side­walks, sport­ing a cer­vi­cal col­lar. I walked with a pole, as el­derly hikers do, and strove to al­ways main­tain three points of con­tact with the sur­face be­low.

I looked pa­thetic, and things only got worse. Limp­ing through an al­ley along­side two so-called friends, I sud­denly found my­self legs-over­head. I landed on my back as the cer­vi­cal col­lar smacked against boil­er­plate. Then, thanks to my jacket’s ny­lon slick­ness, I pro­ceeded to slide help­lessly down­hill, skid­ding to a stop right be­neath an idling laun­dry truck. How my “friends” laughed and laughed.

Skiers com­prise the group most vul­ner­a­ble to the per­fidy of ice. Be­cause we suf­fer the mis­con­cep­tion that all pre­cip­i­ta­tion is be­nign, when we spot snow on the ground, we re­flex­ively re­lax. ‘Hey! There’s that downy soft pre­cip­i­ta­tion to which I’ve ded­i­cated my en­tire life! I’m all good, brother!’

No, you’re not good. You’re not good at all. You’re ap­proach­ing na­ture’s sneaki­est weapon, since those weight-spread­ing, six-foot-long planks you de­pend on as des­per­ately as a tod­dler re­lies on wa­ter wings are back at the lodge. Sure, stay­ing up­right is sim­ple when snow piles atop snow. A quar­ter-inch of cloud dan­druff atop frozen wa­ter, how­ever, rep­re­sents the most treach­er­ous sur­face in win­ter’s wily play­book.

If you’ve spent any time in the moun­tains be­tween Thanks­giv­ing and Ground­hog Day, you might un­der­stand. Streets and side­walks tucked against north-fac­ing slopes win maybe 10 min­utes of sun­shine a day. Snow that falls there never melts—it just liq­ue­fies a bit then re­freezes over and over again into an im­pen­e­tra­ble glacier.

Ev­ery time Tel­lurid­ers fail to wear shoes with the grip of 10-point cram­pons, we lurch and splay to the ex­tent that car­toon bal­loons ex­claim­ing “Oops!” form above our heads. Each win­ter, I yelp “Yikes!” so of­ten it bores me—at which point I con­sider opt­ing for “Suf­fer­ing suc­co­tash!” or “Great Cae­sar’s ghost!” even if only to amuse my­self.

When it comes to slip-slid­ing away, the In­ter­net shines. Schaden­freude-ad­dled mis­an­thropes can amuse them­selves for hours with videos of ice slap­ping vic­tims vs. tar­mac. Shop­pers can pur­chase win­ter trac­tion de­vices such as Cat Tracks. Liti­gious sorts can con­tact all man­ner of am­bu­lance chasers will­ing to sue busi­nesses and home­owner as­so­ci­a­tions.

My sorry glide be­neath the laun­dry truck oc­curred about 100 feet from where—years ear­lier—my friend Travis slammed so hard into an icy cross­walk he rup­tured his spleen and was hos­pi­tal­ized for a week. Travis hap­pens to be a su­perb snowrider who medaled twice in ice climb­ing at the Win­ter X Games in the ’90s. A con­queror of ver­ti­cal ice, he was damn near killed by the hor­i­zon­tal ver­sion.

Ac­cord­ing to the Cana­dian In­sti­tute for Health In­for­ma­tion, more than 8,864 Canucks were hos­pi­tal­ized af­ter fall­ing on ice in the 2016-’17 sea­son. It’s an as­tound­ing num­ber. It means that, in the Great White North, la glace ac­counts for a third of all ER vis­its—more than hockey, ski­ing, snow­board­ing, to­bog­gan­ing, ATVs, ice-skat­ing, and snow­mo­bil­ing com­bined.

The Tel­luride Med­i­cal Cen­ter treats more in­juries re­lated to ice than to ski­ing. Doc­tors here once is­sued a PSA that ad­mon­ished pedes­tri­ans to use gloves, due to frac­tures suf­fered by folks with their hands in their pock­ets. If you can’t break your fall, you break your face.

Best ad­ver­tise­ment for hand cov­er­ings we’ve ever heard.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.