Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ski Whitefish Video!

Finally, Timewaster Studios has come through with another amazingly-awesomely-mega-super-fantastic video.  ah...yes, I'm somewhat biased about Timewaster Studio projects being awesome and all. 

I was only slightly bummed that I was sitting on the couch with a shattered leg and unable to actually get footage of the guys myself.  (Not that I would have been any better at praying to get a good shot as I hurtled down the slopes than the rest of the crew...but it would have been more fun for me.)  Yeah, I'm selfish I guess.

Never fear though my loyal readers and fans of Timewaster Studio projects!  I had my friends go out and ski with cameras strapped to them in my stead, and they filmed everything they could until the cold zapped the batteries.

Admittedly, it took me a while to give a rip about editing the video what with the accident and all, but there was some great stuff on there when I got around to editing!  Several hours worth of stuff actually.  As is the norm for most of my vacations, we had the GoPro's running constantly and the footage adds up.

Well, it's spring now so I'm positive it's the ideal time to get a bunch of hits on a winter ski trip video!

Enough with the rambling intro to this video.  I'm sure the gang has been looking forward to it, or they have all forgotten about it due to the length of time that has lapsed.  I just hope they didn't fall asleep reading the opening remarks here.

There...I'm done yammering...for now...

Enjoy everyone, and thanks to my good friends for the support!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Whitefish Montana - Post 2

The group of us had a great day on the slopes.  Snow fell off and on throughout the day and there was also some sun that made the powder snow sparkle on the tree lined slopes.  The trees themselves were brightened as the light hit the pillows of snow piled on the branches.  As I had heard about Montana, "If you don't like the weather, wait a few minutes."  It changed constantly from blowing snow and zero visibility to blinding sun and blue skies. 

As the second half of the day progressed, the group of us would separate and re-join for a few hours as we all skied and boarded what we could. 

I could have used the spiritual help 20 minutes after taking this picture...

On the second to last run Paul and I stopped by to visit Big Mountain Jesus.  A statue of Christ that was built to honor members of the U.S. Military 10th Mountain Division, and it has stood there for the past 50 years. As a side note, this memorial has been subject to some legal debate on whether or not to allow it to remain.  My opinion is that the local government should have the power to allow or reject the display based on local majority opinion even if it is on "Federal Land".  It's not like a 6 foot tall statue on a ski resort mountainside is all that obtrusive and offensive.  If you don't like it, either don't look at it or you are free to not ski that run.

Paul, Nathan and I took the last lift up to the top of the mountain as the lifts closed.  The clouds had socked in the summit and the wind was whipping snow off the peak.  It was a really inhospitable looking place, but our coats and gear just made it fun to look at.  It's strange to be standing in a place like that, and to be perfectly encased in clothes that protect you so that you are comfortable even when the world outside would try to kill you in a short period without them.  We skirted the peak and looked over the deadly looking drop-offs that were marked as black diamond trails.  I really wonder if dropping into one of those trails would have been any worse than what proceeded to happen.

(Important tangent for all you readers: this next part of the trip sucks way worse than the eating heaps and heaps of humble pie as mentioned in the previous post, so if you have to choose...)

Down a trail from the summit,
Friends Nearby, 
Wind Rushing,
White Snow Made into Clouds,
Steep Rolling Trail,
Oh, NO!!! Off Balance,
Save it! Save It!
A Red Flash.

Cold snow on my face...

Please, Oh Please, Don't Let It Be Broken...

And that, my friends, is about as choppy and rapid-fire as the last moments of that run feel when I recall them.  (and it's painfully obvious from that artful bit of writing that I'm not an English Major either, but I never wanted to have a job that required me to ask "Do you want fries with that?") 

Paul was first there and Nathan shortly afterwards to help as he had to come back up the slope a bit to reach me. 

I knew it was broken.  The leg moved in a way it shouldn't when I shifted it.  The concern on both their faces was evident.  Paul stayed with me and Nathan rocketed down the slopes to tell the Ski Patrol, and from that point began the one of the most limiting and agonizing injuries I have ever had.  Agonizing not so much related to the pain, but more related to my need to move and the need to be independent.  I am trapped for a time in a body that won't let me do what I want to do. 

The Erector Set

I sat in the snow for about 20 minutes with Paul watching up the slope to warn anyone coming down that we were in the way.  The Ski Patrol arrived (without the trumpet fanfare I had imagined for some reason) and they were skilled and really wonderful people.  We actually had a couple of laughs as they splinted me and loaded me in the sled. We were so far out on the mountain that they couldn't get a snowmobile up to me.  They helped me slide into some form of sled and strapped me in.  I was covered in a vinyl tarp to keep snow from flying in my face as they towed me.  We were flying down the mountain from what I could tell, and the sled would pitch violently from side to side as the terrain changed.  That rolled me several times onto the broken leg.  I could hear the guy say, "Sorry man." when it happened.  There wasn't much to do aside from just deal with it.

When we arrived at a ski lift somewhere along the trail, (I don't know which since I was totally disoriented by the sled ride) they attached the sled to a chair and sent us up the lift to where a snowmobile could reach me and tow me to the clinic. I don't ever want to have to make that trip again. Having a broken leg and getting tossed around in a coffin like sled was the stuff that nightmares are made of.

Nathan got this picture before we decided to pull off the ski boot.  Looking back on it, I should have paid for the boot right then and there and had someone destroy it cutting it off my leg rather than what we did.  It took two people to stretch the boot open as much as possible and then we all pulled. 

Take my word for it.  Don't ever do that

Nathan hung with me when I made decision to pull the boot off my broken leg in the clinic. The medic's comment about "You Bama boys are tough." when it was over did make me feel a bit better. I'm sure he has had the opportunity to see the worst in people when they are in pain.
Feeling better with my brand new full leg cast...and loads of pain medication...

The things I have learned and will now pass on to you so you don't have to do this stuff for yourselves: 

Seriously people, please learn this stuff on your own from here on out.  I'm done being the example.

If you are skiing and find yourself saying, "Hey, I'm tired, but I have one more run in me." At that moment you are supposed to just stop and come back tomorrow.  Always leave wanting more.  I believe that this rule may apply to many other sports that risk injury.

Unfortunately, I learned this lesson at the end of the first day of the trip, and after a lovely night in the hospital, I was back in the Lodgepole house where we were staying.

I want to take the time to give my absolute appreciation to all the guys on the trip (Paul, Nathan, John, Way, Carper, and Andy)  You guys are true friends and were wonderful to have around helping out after my accident.  I can't say enough good things.  It really meant a lot to have your company, daily ski stories, and assistance while I was there.  When I get out of this cast and can move again, I'm going to throw a massive party.  Carper...Uh...plane tickets?  I may have to delay catching up with you until I can make it out to Colorado.  It will happen though.

I also have to thank my wife and friends at the office for helping me out now that I have gone on for 2 months without writing about this incident.  I owe my wife a trip to Hawaii or something since she has been driving me everywhere for the past 8 weeks...if I can ever save up enough after paying for the erector set leg.
Way and John on the lift...Twins?  Nah...

I will have the video up in the next post, and I think it came together pretty well.

Thanks again everyone.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Snow in Whitefish (This was written a long time ago now)

I am an active person to say the least.  I am apparently also a fragile person (skeletally).  Which is a seriously messed up combination when I think about it.  I mean, how screwed up is it to have the desire to do the sports I do and then have a skeleton that shatters like so much glass when I make a mistake?

I went on my first serious snow ski trip with a group of guys as I noted in a few of my previous posts.  It was stellar.  The flight out, the beauty of the mountain.  The vast amounts of snow.  Trees coated with white powder so thick that they didn't even look real.  It was everything I had imagined.  But...there were a couple of points that didn't quite go as well as I had hoped.

Point #1: Humble Pie:

I don't like humble pie.  It tastes like a big pile of steaming....well you get the idea.  I went to Montana with aspirations of being able to pick up snowboarding like I have many other activities.  Pretty quickly and easily.  I mean, all those guys riding on the snowboard videos make it look easy!  I didn't have the right mindset, and the mountain knew it.  Nathan was very patient and stayed with me on what had to be the steepest "bunny slope" that could be imagined.  Not that it mattered.  His instruction was good.  My execution was pitiful.  I rode the lift up, and then fell.  (Not right under the lift like I had worried, but finding myself not being able to stop I had to do something...)  I then put the boots in place on the board and promptly fell over.  I also found that when I put the snowboard in the direction I wanted to go it went -- and by "went" I mean accelerating to 400 mph with only meager inklings of control.  *crash* 

Out of my element. 

I was seriously frustrated on the first run.  The second run was better although I nearly hit the lift tower on my descent.  That run showed promise, but as soon as I threw the board into a toe side turn I found myself face up with my ears ringing.  All the while I was thinking, "I could do back flips on a wake board, why is this so difficult?"

The third run had me gasping like a person that hasn't ever worked out in his/her life, but I could stop myself and turn for the most part.  Oh, and crash.  I had that crashing part of the lesson NAILED!!  Yeah baby!  Nathan didn't even have to teach me anything.  I was good at it like I was born to do it.  sigh...

We then took the lift to the top of the mountain.  There was no way I going to give into the fact I had only 3 short runs on a snowboard under my belt and should have given in and just taken the day on the bunny slope.  If I was going to embarrass myself and spend time beating my body into snowbanks, I wanted to have a long run of it. 

My vision was sparkling with the lack of oxygen and the panic of realizing that I had no business going up to the top.  The summit was socked in with clouds and blowing snow.  Visibility of maybe 20 yards at best.  Nathan and I managed to get lost even at the slow pace we were keeping.  He seemed to make his turns so effortlessly, and I was flailing around with my heart maxed out at 185bpm and sweating up a storm.  It turns out my first run down the mountain was on an intermediate blue trail that included sheer looking drop offs and loads of trees and narrow ski paths.  Wild times.

I crashed hard toward the bottom (for the bajillionth time) and bruised my knee.  I was done with the snowboard for the day on the 4th run.  Of course, I have some of my horrible performance on video, but the one part that I am really proud of I don't.  In the last segment of the run, we found the terrain park and some pure powder snow.  I actually hopped up on one of the wooden box slider features and rode it across and followed that up with 3-4 great sweeping turns on the board as I came to the end of the run.  It really felt good, and for 30 seconds, it looked like I knew what I was doing on a snowboard.  There is actually something to snowboarding that could be a blast if I practiced a little more.

At that point, I had eaten enough humble pie though for the day.  I traded in my snowboard for skis so I could ride the whole mountain with the rest of the gang that we had out there.  I planned on swapping back to the board in the morning and spending more time on the bunny slope.  Everyone else in the group was skiing and had been all over the mountain and had great stories of all the places I hadn't been yet.

 Off we went.

The blue trails were amazing and the black diamond trails weren't trails.  These so-called black diamonds were just sheer cliffs inviting a swift and sudden death.  Around us were vast scenes of Flathead valley and Whitefish Lake thousands of feet below, and the sun would glint off the lake and illuminate the clouds that clung to the mountain.  Even on the intermediate blue trails, allegedly gently sloping runs had a tendency to just disappear in front of you.   After a moment, you would realize that the trail didn't end, it just got that steep.  I skied pretty well and felt confident doing it.  I determined it was a great idea to split the day between the board and skis. 

Whitefish lake below on an intermediate slope...

I have written and re-written this post several times now.  Not that it would make any difference to someone reading my stream of consciousness gibberish.  My attempts have gone from Negative to Positive to Pitiful, so I have decided to bail and give you a partial story.  You know... a cliff hanger...where the hero gets away, and the girl, and wins, and all that bull...

Ah, the bitterness...  Time to stop writing again...  It's taken me over a month to get this much together...  I hope you enjoy this blog...

The video is coming soon.  It also took me a month to even think about watching the stuff.  The Timewaster Studios project is close to complete, and it's a positive and fun piece.  I promise to get it up soon.

I'll leave you with the start of the last run of the day.  We had skied all over the mountain and decided make a run as the lifts were closing. 

cue the ominous music...