Thursday, January 10, 2008

Does this make me extreme?

I managed to break a ski today. I don't think I was being stupid or going too fast. The conditions weren't brilliant, but we take what the Snow Gods dish out. I'd been planning to go to Alpine Meadows since I've got a ton of Sugar Bowl days and wanted to see something different, but it was raining when I left the cabin and since it's pretty high already here I figured I'd better go someplace really high. So I went to Mt. Rose, which I'm quite fond of for the Chutes runs there, which are exactly what they sound like. I didn't break my ski on one of those.

It was very windy at Rose, with the frontside runs being pretty much scraped out and a lot of exposed rock, mank, and weird mini-cornices everywhere that had more exposure. A lot of the ungroomed snow also had a fairly heavy quality; I later heard that it had drizzled a little bit in the morning before I got there. Between taking a while to leave the house, buying gas, and deciding to go to Rose, which is further away than Alpine, I didn't get there until 10:30.

Anyway, the best conditions were in the Chutes for a while, but the better ones got skied off and scraped out around 2:30 or 3 o'clock and I decided that there was too much exposed rock for me and started lapping the backside runs instead. Which are significantly easier.

It took me about one run on something groomed to decide that I wanted to drop in from between a couple big rocks and do the crud line under the lift. So I did. Sections of it were really bad, but sections of it skied really nicely too. I was having some trouble keeping the skis on the ground when I did it, so I thought I should try to link a bunch of short-radius turns rather than doing the bigger turns I generally prefer. I went over to the groomer on the next run and linked a bunch of short-radius turns, then went back and did the under-lift line again, although with an easier entry. It didn't take very long before I was doing my usual longer-radius turns again, going from perpendicular to the fall line to perpendicular to the fall line and transitioning slowly because the chatter was making it hard to do a clean turn any tighter. It was on one of these turns that I had a close encounter of the arboreal variety.

I'm not sure if I fell and then hit the tree or hit the tree and then fell. I think I probably got sucked into the treewell, then fell and hit the tree at about the same time. In any case, I caught it with the front half of my right ski and snapped it right above the binding, then stacked onto my skis. Those of my fans who like me intelligent and with full motor control will be glad to know that my head never came close to hitting anything. The binding released as it was supposed to and there was no pain, although I would have been happier if it had saved the ski too. After I got up and assessed the situation, I discovered that it's much harder to step back into a binding when it's attached to a broken ski.

At this point, a number of thoughts came to the surface of my mind.
"I'm not a person who breaks skis."
"I didn't hit that hard - it shouldn't have been enough to break a ski."
"I edged and waxed these last night."
"I wonder if I get enough street cred for this to look for a replacement on TGR?"
"I refuse to take a ride down with Ski Patrol in the sled."
"I'm not that good at carving on one ski, but I guess now is the time to learn."

Ultimately, I didn't do the one ski carving thing - I can handle putting all my weight on my uphill ski when I'm doing something that's not that steep and is smooth, but I was still in the middle of the tree run I'd been doing. I traversed to a smoother part, which wasn't that difficult, then took my first turn on the new setup. I caught broken ski at the fold and wiped out. After that I decided that the new game was going to be "keep the break out of the snow." I considered not putting my foot back in it and carrying it down on my shoulder, but decided that having poles where I was would be more helpful than removing the broken ski and only having the single unbroken ski to control my descent. So I did one turn centered and parallel, then leaned way back and did another one all the way on the tail of the broken ski. I pretty much alternated those for about two thirds of the vertical in the back bowl at that resort, and by the end I was even linking my turns.

There's another parking lot at the back side at Rose, and a shuttle is available for people who, for whatever reason, can't ski back to the main parking lot. I decided that I was proud enough of myself for skiing most of Rose's vertical on one and five eighths of a ski once, and didn't need to do it again. So I had the lift op call for the shuttle, and went into the lodge for a pit stop and a hot chocolate. The front side was bad enough on two skis.

That pair of skis is now back at Porter's Sports, where I bought them. They're going to contact K2 about a warranty replacement tomorrow when the manager they need is present and K2 should be available to contact, but they weren't very optimistic. I hope that K2 decides to replace them, and if they do I'll be happy enough to keep skiing Public Enemies, but I don't think I'll buy another pair if they don't. They were a great ski for me when I bought them, but I'm skiing more centered and more aggressively than I was at the time and I think it's time for something more. And better technique as well.

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