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Powder Hound

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Alex has been waiting for snow since the final flake melted last spring. Like a true Coloradoan, he’s been on the slopes since he was four years-old. He started on skis and did the edgie-wedgie thing with other babes in bibs while his Haute Mama braved the blue runs in a women’s ski class. At the age of seven he moved onto snowboarding and hasn’t looked back. One beautiful sunny day about four years ago, I drove up to Powderhorn with Alex and a couple of his fellow boarders. By late afternoon I was feeling good and my turns were looking even better. “Hey Al, let’s do Snow Cloud and then call it a day.” “Mom, you know it’s a black run.” Duh. I’ve skied Equalizer with the best of them. It’s a black run too. Besides - and here are the words that never should have escaped my lips – “If YOU can do it, so can I.” So down we go, Alex, his two buddies and The Mom. Let me just say that Alex has his own version of this story, but mine is true. First turn, no problem. I’m in front of them and look back. They seem to be doing OK. I negotiate the first mogul and think those ski lessons were worth every penny! I glance back at the kids and they are struggling to keep up with me, but look like they’ll make it. Second mogul coming up and I look back to check on them. Now here’s something they failed to tell us in the lessons – never, NEVER, look back over your shoulder when a big-ass mogul is in front of you. The sound I heard next is one I’ve heard a couple other times in my life. It’s enough to make you lose your lunch. The sound of cartilage twisting and snapping and tearing and popping. It’s not a pretty sound, and it has always been accompanied by a string of obscenities and considerable pain. That moment was no different. I sank at an awkward angle down into the snow and had two thoughts. “How am I going to get off this mountain? And how am I going to drive these kids home?” OK, I had a third thought too. “Geez, I hope nobody saw that.” Alex and his buds caught up to me. He seemed genuinely concerned. “Hey Mom, can we go get the ski patrol? They’ll let us ride back up on the snow cat!” “No son, I can walk down.” Delirium had already set in. I tried to stand and realized that was not gonna happen. “OK, fine go get them. But take Kyle with you in case you get hurt.” Ha! I was still the lead dog and in charge of the youngsters. Long story short, the poor guys on the ski patrol hauled my now-frozen butt all the way back down the mountain in the toboggan. They had no problem with the moguls and even laughed and joked as they gasped for breath. After a check for broken bones they set me free and I did manage to drive all the kids home safely. And yes, they loved the ride on the snow cat. The moral of the story is, when you’re in your 4th decade of life, think twice before you try to keep up with kids who are barely out of their first. You don’t heal as fast, and you fall farther. People tell me that Alex is a pretty darn good boarder. I wouldn’t know since I haven’t been on the same runs with him since that fateful day. He does runs with scary names like Death Wish and Bone Yard and Psycho Boy and Not For Yo’ Momma. He goes places that I would rather not know about. Am I concerned for his safety? You betcha. Do I trust his judgment? Umm, yeah, right up until he does something that gets him hurt or hurts someone else. So each time he gets in the lift line, I implore his guardian angels to stay with him. He’s worn out more than a few in his lifetime but they’re doing a good job keeping up with him. Let’s just hope they don’t look back over their shoulder and that they negotiate mogul fields far better than me. P.S. When the slopes open this weekend, I’ll be basking in the sun in Maui. I’ll skip the surfing.

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