I’m typing this rather slowly, with one hand.
My left arm is in a cast-like thing from my hand to just above my elbow, stabilizing my fractured wrist and locking my arm at a 90-degree angle. It’s more annoying than painful at this point, two days after a snowboarder lost control and took me out from behind. On the bright side, I got a bottle of what the doctor and nurses called “party pills,” and a prescription for more.
River Run is notorious at Keystone for being practically unavoidable, very steep and frequently icy. After a morning of patiently teaching a friend how to snowboard, I was getting in the first run of the day where I could cut loose. I bombed down and just as I was nearing the base, I heard the guy shouting. He must have been riding too close and I’m guessing he wiped out on the ice. It happened in a split second and I felt a pop in my wrist. After a flip through the air, he and I both slid for maybe 25 yards.
He asked repeatedly if I was OK and I felt fine. By the time I got back to the top of the mountain, my wrist was hurting. When I got back to the bottom again, it was swollen and the pain was beginning to make me nauseous.
Flash back to early November. Back to Keystone and back to the bottom of River Run. I got my first nasty injury of the season when I lost my edge on some ice and came down hard on my right knee. More than a month later, the spot is still bruised. This particular bruise emerged from the point of contact, after two days of limping, weeks of complete numbness, massive swelling and spectacularly colorful bruising around it.
Each time I injured myself this season, I’ve been terrified at the prospect of season-ending damage. Snowboarding is half the reason I’m in Colorado and it’s one of the things I love most. But as I sat in the Keystone Medical Center, I got some perspective. The guy next to me was covered in blood, waiting to get stitches in his face. It sounded like he’d attempted something crazy and was unconscious after the fall. My treatment was delayed when they rushed a ski patrol staffer in, while he moaned that he couldn’t feel his arm. It turned out to be a separated collar bone.
We are all insane.
What makes us want to shoot down mountains while strapped onto boards? We launch off cliffs, drop off rocks and weave through trees. Colorado is packed with people whose brains are more likely to say, “do it, I dare you,” than, “careful, you could die.” The ability to make risk/reward calculations is warped by adrenaline addiction, ego and false feelings of invincibility. Thrill seeking trumps survival instincts.
Maybe that’s a little dramatic, but as I poke out letters on my keyboard in a “party pill” haze, I have to at least briefly question why I’m itching to get back on my board more than I’m itching under this stupid splint. It’s love and insanity, and it’s perfectly common.
Long live Colorado crazies. (As if we can guarantee that.)