Tales from the Lift Line IV: Velocity


By Mary-Colleen Jenkins

“I just knocked down a little kid,” laughed the snowboarder to his friends when he slid to a stop. They had come, one-by-one, across the single green run at Alpental to the parking lot. On weekends this run is riddled with tiny skiers in red bibs learning to ski in pizza wedges, little arms waving by their sides. The movements of these little skiers are about as easy to predict as a herd of cats.

“Yeah, it was legitimate, but this old lady totally started yelling at me! I said I was sorry! But knocking him down was totally legitimate.”

A legitimate knock-down of a kid on a green run?

I watched them head off for another run, and remembered a spring day at Crystal Mountain.

Riding the lift, we had heard the tell-tale thwack-thwack of a helicopter coming up behind us. It passed overhead and then slowly hovered over what is typically a well-traveled section of the mountain, a section we’d planned to ski first.

A helicopter on the mountain is a bad sign. Someone has been hurt severely enough to require emergency evacuation. A patroller told us what he knew: a snowboarder had slammed into a kid and then disappeared through the trees.

When I overheard “Mr. Legitimate” and his friends, I thought, “Man, you’re lucky I wasn’t the old lady yelling at you.”

My sometimes-mortified family will tell you I don’t hesitate to make my opinions known on the mountain if I see an egregious lack of concern with safety.

On another spring day last year, I watched in horror as a snowboarder, easily four times the size of my child, missed slamming into her by mere inches. He was hot-shotting for his friends, heading down to the lift line at warp speed, jumping the orange banner stretched across the bottom. The orange banner that screams in large black letters: SLOW.

Heart pounding, I raced over to where she had stopped. The boarder was long gone. But I did remember exactly what he looked like.

I’d seen him all day, showing off for his friends. He was also outfitted to stand out in the crowd: shorts, Hawaiian shirt, and a distinctive hat, no helmet

I went directly to ski patrol and reported what had happened. I watched with satisfaction as the whole group of goof-balls were stopped, lectured, and given a strong warning.

Part of me wanted their lift tickets pulled, but that’s why ski patrol is in charge of discipline on the mountain, not me. It’s probably better to hear it from a professional patroller.

Don’t get me wrong, though. If I need to yell, I will. But I’ll try to make an effort to go to the ski patrol first.

But no guarantees.

Winter weekends call Mary-Colleen out to the snow, but during the week she can be found warm and dry and working with words. Jenkins is a freelance editor, teaches an editing class at UW, and is the writer of two blogs, Too Fond of Books (toofondofbooks-sea.blogspot.com) and Along the Branches (www.alongthebranches.wordpress.com). You can find her on Twitter at @EmceeReads.

Other “Tales from the Lift Line”. . .

>> I. The Beginning

>> II. When Seeing is Believing

>> III. Expeditionary Forces

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