Thursday, April 23, 2015

My Ski Season: The Best Thing Since... Sliced Bread?!

This ski season has proven to be better than anything I could ever imagine it would be. Yes, people have been whining about the lack of snow in the Sierra this year... but have those people really been out to even enjoy the snow we did get?! I'll admit, the lack of snow sucked, but what we did get made for some awesome skiing, and Mammoth Mountain did a great job making sure of that. As I write this post, I already have 33 days of skiing under the belt of my ski pants. 33 DAYS!!! That's a pretty respectable number of days for anyone, especially in a good snow year. Oh, and did I mention that's 33 days for someone who broke their back?!? Maybe all those whiners just need to shut the eff up and ski!! Just sayin'... if I can do it, there's no excuse!

Progress Beyond What I Could Ever Imagine

In my last post, it was very clear that I was thrilled with meeting my goal on the two-year mark of the accident. Well, as thrilled as I was to meet that goal, I also knew that I still had a lot of work to do. If you really know me, you know how hard I am on myself. Skiing is no exception. Yes, I was stoked to meet my goal, but I could see there was still a long way to go (I knew it, and it was reaffirmed in video and a list of things to work on). Maybe I should restate this just in case you missed it: I AM REALLY HARD ON MYSELF. 

I'm trying to remember when things clicked, but I can't really put my finger on it. It was a week or two after I met my goal, that's all I really remember... and that I could feel it. I actually felt more comfortable while skiing and wasn't really afraid to "point 'em down." It was crazy and awesome all at the same time! From that moment, the progress I was making just seemed to take off. I mean, I had made a lot of progress up until then, but this felt different. I was really starting to incorporate more flexion and extension, I was standing taller and not "back-seating it" as much, my upper body had quieted down, etc. Oh, and did I mention I started skiing Chair 3 at Mammoth (the easiest ways down are Blue-Black runs) and LOVED it?! I think Jaclyn knows the look of fear I had the first time we got on the lift, but that quickly disappeared, and we lapped Saddle Bowl many times.

The following weekend was looking like it was going to be my last weekend on the slopes for the season: there was no new snow in the forecast, and the temperatures were on the rise. I was determined to make the most of it. Friday was definitely not a stellar day for me - I was in my head too much and just couldn't stop thinking. You know it's bad when your instructor says they can tell you are thinking too much just by looking at your face. I think that day was just more of a warm-up for the rest of the weekend. Saturday and Sunday proved to be my best days on the slopes yet. I skied with Carolyn both days, and she is the one person who has consistently been able to get me out of my head while skiing. It's amazing the difference getting out of my head can make - and I'm not the only one who noticed it. Maggie had joined us for a few runs on Sunday, and she even commented that I'm skiing much more athletically and with great rhythm. Carolyn and I skied well past the end of the lesson, with permission of course, and the way I skied and how I felt meant more to me than meeting my goal on the two-year mark. It was phenomenal... and I wasn't ready for it to be over! 

Skiing with Maggie and Carolyn on my "last day" of the season.

I learned a lesson the first week in April: if I think ski season is over and I throw all of my hiking stuff in the washer, it will PUKE two feet of snow at Mammoth. It happened. 

Miraculously, my ski season didn't end when I thought it did. Two feet of fresh snow did wonders for Mammoth and for my skiing. Carolyn and I were skiing together again, so that automatically meant I'd be out of my head, right?! Not so fast. The first run had me really worried - I apparently forgot how to ski after taking one weekend off. Once I got out of my head, I was back on track and feeling really comfortable again. We spent the morning lapping Chair 12, which had re-opened, and Chair 3. It was such fun! I even skied the Face of Three for the first time which really had me stoked - and apparently everyone at DSES when they heard I did it too! I was really nervous at the top of it - it's steep and much more of a black diamond that Patrolmen's - and Carolyn can attest to this. My face said it all - a look of fear. Well, that look quickly went away after a few turns, and I thought it was a blast! We were having so much fun that we spent the afternoon free skiing together, too. Carolyn informed me that I ski much better outside of a lesson too - because I put way too much pressure on myself. It's true. I could feel how much better I was skiing. Sunday was more of the same. We spent a lot of time lapping Broadway and Saddle Bowl, and it was the most comfortable I'd ever been on both of them; apparently I was skiing a lot faster, too! Carlynn joined us for some free skiing after lunch, and it was awesome. We lapped Face of Three AND Fascination! I was lapping Black Diamonds!!! IT WAS AWESOME!!! 

The Demons Within...

While my skiing has progressed like crazy since the two-year mark, the one thing that's been extra hard to deal with is the accident itself. I thought that I had processed how my life changed in a split second on February 23rd, 2013, which now seems like a long time ago. I thought that all the writing I was doing on this blog really helped me process it and put it all behind me. One thing that I learned from after the two-year re-birthday is that wasn't true. Looking back at the one-year mark, it didn't really seem to impact me much. I mean, I remembered what happened and all that jazz, but it wasn't too out of the ordinary. Well, life since the two-year mark is anything but ordinary and I think a lot of that is because of the fact that I'm facing my demons and skiing again. 

I was flying high after skiing Patrolmen's on February 23rd, but later that week, I crashed. I don't know what it was, but I just felt really unsettled. I've chatted about what happened quite a bit over the past two years, but I've never really talked about or processed what happened. It was becoming quite clear... to me and to Maggie. I'm really not going to go into details, but she and I have talked quite a bit over the past few weeks and it's been helping little by little. I wasn't thinking that returning to skiing would dig up the demons again, I thought I had dealt with them already, but I'm so grateful to Maggie for taking the time to chat so often. 

The Season of Thanks...

Now that ski season is winding down again, or so it seems right now, I'm still blown away by the progress I've made in one season. I went from skiing the easiest run at Mammoth (it's so flat you have to push yourself with your poles sometimes) to lapping legit Black Diamond runs... and LOVING them!! It blows my mind! I never thought I'd enjoy the steep runs or be skiing as often as I am, but I'm doing it! There are so many people that have been so supportive along the way - friends, family, everyone at DSES, coworkers, complete strangers. It's been crazy. Looking back on this ski season, I can honestly say that working with Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra has been the best thing that has happened to me since breaking my back. I can't thank everyone there enough for everything and helping me get that piece of my life back that was missing. 

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