Jay's Report - March 30, 2003

Old School, New School and Ragdolling

It was a great skiers' weekend. Mild temperatures, great snow conditions, year end barbeques abound and great entertainment courtesy the Free Ski Competition. The snow was wonderful, glorious in fact. The sun didn't show much. But that was probably a good thing because it kept the upper half of the mountain in winter condition while skiers enjoyed spring conditions on the lower half of the mountain. The snow wasn't snotty (see my last week report for definition); but rather an enjoyable blend of slurpee and super soft ice cream. I found Cedar Center Upper and Cedar Center Lower to be a most pleasing serving of top to bottom cruising turns. Ski Dive was terrific as well. There weren't many skiers on the hill on either Saturday or Sunday. This is a sure sign of the end of the ski season being near. It must be spring break in Manitoba judging by the outbreak of Manitoba license plates on the hill.

Fernie hosted the Free Ski Competition for most of the week. The event culminated on Saturday and was open to all that wanted to test their extreme skiing skills against man, women and mountain. Earlier in the week the competition was held on Knot Chutes and Polar Peak. Saturday it was held on Lizard Headwall. The feeling you get when you are looking down from the top of Lizard Headwall is the same feeling you get from looking down from the roof of a skyscraper. Even the bravest of the brave can't help but to perspire a little more, to skip a heartbeat or two and, yes, to have something trickle down your leg a bit. To get to the top, skiers are required to boot pack up. The image gave me some idea of what Hillary's Step on Everest might look like on a high traffic day. This is one steep headwall. Having boot packed to the summit, skiers then descend on individual sorties on a "line" of their personal choosing which offers thrills, chills and, at times, spills. "Ragdolling" is a term used for a spectacular spill whereby a skier falls in such a convulsing manner as to flip head over heals "OC" in a cartwheel fashion resembling the movement of a Ragdoll. The last time I ragdolled was in the 70's in Jackson Hole on Corbet's Couloir. I recall that moment being the first and last time I ever considered a sex change. As I was tumbling, a ski struck my groin with such intensity that it felt as if the operation was half complete already; so I thought for a split second that I might as well finish the job. Once you come to rest from a ragdolling episode, assuming it isn't in a coffin, you are totally disoriented. It feels like your buttocks are wrapped solidly around your cranium. Ragdolling is not a pleasant experience. You can imagine then, the hush from the spectators when a competitor starts to ragdoll down Lizard Headwall. Fortunately it only happened once that I heard about and the competitor was not seriously injured. Fernie has plenty of terrain to ragdoll in. There's Upper and Lower Saddle, Corner Pocket, Knot Chutes and Polar Peak just to mention a few. But if you want to do it right, boot pack up Lizard Headwall when it's open, which isn't very often. Hats off to the competitors of the Free Ski Competition for their courageous and entertaining display of skiing prowess! Bernie and I decided that we could have entered the competition but we didn't hear an announcement for an "over 40" category.

In watching the Free Ski Competition and in talking with certain spectators and competitors it's interesting that there is clearly an Old School/New School philosophy that has evolved. Old School skiers seem to prefer more turns, synchronized movements and flow. New School skiers are more interested in straight lining, fewer turns, speed and huge air. That attitude seems to be more like, "Why bother making two turns when one will do?" If I have a choice of making two turns instead of one, I'll usually make two. I guess I'm just Old School.

At 7PM it's plus 7 at the house.

Jay - jay@far.redtree.com

Free Skier Coming off the top of Lizard Headwall

Spectators Watching Free Ski Competition at Top of Face Lift

One Missed Turn and...

Precariously Perched

New Run - Heiko's Extreme - That's Straightlining