Saturday, March 25, 2017

Bell-Shaped Curve of Emotion

The NCAA Championships were suddenly over, and they ended on a low note this year.

These photos kind of capture the emotion of the day. Scraping around in the bushes.

But on our way back home, we had time to stop for a couple hours' worth of sightseeing in Boston. 

As for me, after our Boston stop, I made another stop. This time in Colorado for a week's worth of alpine skiing in the Rocky Mountain sunshine. First stop was Steamboat Springs.

Everything was going great, and memories of a rough week at NCAA's were fading and being replaced by sunshine and great snow.

I was minding my own business, knifing giant slalom turns through sun-softened spring snow, when I hit a rock submerged under a couple inches of slushy snow. I was getting insane angles like Ligety, and the ski was fully loaded, mid-turn. There was a crunch the moment my outside ski arced directly into a hidden rock, as my femur punched down through the meniscus and broke off the top of my tibia.  I knew the prognosis was going to be bad even before I fell. Strangely enough, it didn't hurt at all. The knee simply didn't work any more.

This guy, Pete, offered to give me a ride down in his sled. I'd never been in one before so I said "sure". 

As fun as it was to get a ride in the sled, I was pretty bummed because I knew the next six days of ski vacation were out the window, as well as the entire Alaska spring skiing season.

You don't have to look too closely to see that the tibial plateau is broken, and the femur had to bust through the meniscus to get to the tibia. 

I had another first on this trip: my first overnight stay in a hospital. 

About three hours after the accident, the local bigwig orthopedic surgeon (an official US Ski Team doctor) dropped by and told me that I needed surgery and if he was going to do it we needed to do it immediately because he was leaving town early the next morning to float the Grand Canyon. The timing couldn't have worked out any better for me. No waiting time. (And apparently they've invented some kind of synthetic bone graft material, so they didn't even have to harvest a piece of bone out of my hip for the graft.)

Here's his handiwork:

And then he stapled me back up. I guess stitches are no longer in vogue.
To me, this knee does not look normal. I suppose it will work itself out.
So in the end, I hope some good can come of this. I've been spending more and more time working with the alpine team in recent years, and I am really enjoying being involved with that side of the sport. But sometimes I wonder if my lack of knee surgeries hurts my credibility with the alpiners. Like, if I've never even had one torn ACL or one broken leg, I haven't gone through initiation yet and I'm not really legit in their eyes. If that's the case, I'm hoping this experience will change all that.  Now I've got my first-ever ski injury in the books, even if it took me 48 years' worth of skiing to achieve this milestone.

As interesting as this adventure has been, I guess I won't be too disappointed if it takes another 48 years before my next broken leg.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Just a Bunch of Pictures

A lot has happened since my last letter. I'll attempt to let this plethora of photos explain it all.

Typical team meeting, gathered 'round the pick 'em up truck

We're deep into the klister here in New Hampshire.

The backdrop for our racing trails this week.

Another team meeting

Zack under full power in training

Andrew and Skippy


This is where we prepare the skis

There's always an NCAA championship banquet. This is the 2017 edition. Mount Washington Hotel. Site of the 1944 Bretton Woods Monetary Conference. 

Sparky and Anna assigned me to the start for the Giant Slalom. Here's the race hill.  I know you think I inadvertently tilted the camera sideways when I took this picture. But I didn't. It's the world that's tilted sideways. The race hill and I are not.

It was blustery in the start.  Here's Anna and Sparky. Sparky's the one wearing the slime line gloves.

Alix, Kat, Hughey, Dom

Dominic Unterberger

Kat. This is the last run of her final giant slalom. The last one.

Skippy, Andrew, Sara.   Post race.



Zacke. Near the finish.  And Andrew

Zacke, Butter, Hailey

Skippy and Nitro
Today was one of those days...

Every afternoon there's a rematch. It's a brutal thing to witness.

Toomas.  Recuperation and contemplation.

Sunday, March 5, 2017


Meanwhile back in Anchorage, the UAA Ski Team was all over the local news this week. Isn't that Galen Johnston wrecking at the start and bringing down half the field with him? Isn't that Brandon Brewster jump-skating on the Hillside Trails?  You be the judge.
Click on the photo for the link to the news clip

Great Googly Moogly

We're going to be skiing at Jackson all week. We'll be on a five kilometer race course, going round and round. In our quest to arrive at the start line with not only fresh bodies but fresh minds, we went to Great Glen today to get our daily dose of fresh air at the base of Mount Washington.


Skippy, Butter and Hailey



We've skied thru many tunnels already this week.

Mount Washington. Highest mountain in the Northeast. 6,288 feet above sea level. Once upon a time long ago, the wind blew 231 miles per hour on the summit.

Back from ski training means back to the grind with homework.

Saturday, March 4, 2017


Well, I guess this is New Hampshire...
Here's Zack waxing his skis in front of our abode. Notice anything amiss in this photo?

That's right.  Flat tire on the truck.  Sara must have run  over something when we went past that nail factory last night on our drive up from Boston.

We went classic skiing today.

Rewaxing. It was, as is common in these parts, "frozen granular" conditions. 
We stopped in at the Cocoa Shack. Those are not our snowshoes. Zacke thinks that red, white and blue flag is the New Hampshire state flag.

Discussing strategy

There was enough hot cocoa to go around.


This tunnel will not be part of our race course.

Nor will this covered bridge.