Crash and Burn

Andy Hays | | Featured ArticleFeatured Article
Skier's crash of the year in jackson hole

It may not have happened yet.  It might not happen for some time.  It could happen at any moment really.  It could be the first run, of the first day of the season.  Or not.  Even when it occurs you won’t know until the end of the year if it really was… the Crash of the Year.

The Crash of the Year can manifest itself in various forms.  It can be particularly violent.  It can be terribly embarrassing.  It can be really spectacular.  It will always be entertaining.  A Crash of the Year can result in injury to the body and mind.  Other times it is merely the ego that takes a bruising.  Some times you’ll end up with a black eye when your parents are in town visiting (like in the video below).

The Crash of the Year has the element of surprise on its side.  You are guaranteed that it will happen at some point of the season, you just can’t be for sure when.  Now of course, we’ve all found ourselves in the position that we at least had an inkling that it might not go smoothly.  That there might be an outside chance of a spectacularly unplanned result.  Other times though the Crash of the Year is sneaky, and completely unexpected.

Skier's crash of the year
What goes up, must eventually go splat

I looked down the chute that was my destination.  It was still untouched.  It didn’t exactly look ideal.  In fact, it really didn’t look all that great.  The wind had blown out the first 30 feet or so, the fading December sunlight glinted off the surface giving the hint that it could be pretty firm.  Well… um… I didn’t really plan on turning in the first 30 feet or so anyhow, I hiked up here to straight line this chute, no big deal.  Down below the snow looked much more forgiving.

My assessment was confirmed.  The first 30 feet was sheer ice, the rest was beautiful dry snow, not as much as I had hoped for maybe.  I broke out with a fury into the bowl below and went for one big shut down turn.  I nailed the turn, not so much with the shut down.  The three and a half inches of cold winter snow was not really providing the resistance I had planned on.  At ludicrous speed I headed directly for a huge pile of chunder.  With all of my might I managed to steer away, but I was running out of space.  I had never noticed before how quickly this bowl ran out.  Or quite how many undulations it had.  I guess it’s usually a lot more filled in.  I aired off a spine of the slope  and somehow survived, albeit in the back seat, the second however cleaned me out completely.

ski racer crash of the year
A peak at what the Crash of the Year means to a ski racer

It was late in the day and I don’t think anyone saw it.  I wish someone had seen it.  I can’t even imagine the sight it must have been in a complete explosion of equipment and rag dolling limbs.  My face easily penetrated the dusting of snow and smashed through the icy layer I had seen at the top.  I then got tossed a few more rotations for good measure.  My nose hurt.  My face hurt.  My leg hurt.  My knee hurt.  My ankle hurt.  Even my wrist was cut when after smashing through the ice.  One of my gloves was gone.  My jacket and pants were filled with snow.  By now the sun had gone away and I was cold and really sore all over.  It was early season and I skied tentatively for the rest of the year as a result.  This is a grave risk when it comes to an early season Crash of the Year.  Best to warm up before you really whack yourself.

A previous Crash of the Year involved myself rag dolling so hard that BOTH of my gloves got taken off.  A few years back [when squaw still had night skiing] [it was fun when squaw had night skiing] [seriously, squaw you should bring back night skiing] I witnessed my good friend violently explode on the flats of Mountain Run.  Almost like a long boarder catches a speed wobble, he was going real fast, and then he was somersaulting across the flat ground.  It was amazing.  Crash of the Year.

Remember, always claim your crash of the year
Remember, always claim your crash of the year

As I look forward to the upcoming season I have visions of endless powder.  Sun drenched afternoons.  Big air.  Steep lines.  More powder.  Somewhere lurking about is the big crash.  Not just a biff.  Not just a washout.  Not just a back slap.  Not just a hot tub.  Not just a flop.  It can’t be avoided.  It is an unescapable consequence of the new season.  Somewhere in the near distant future… It’s the Crash of the Year.

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2 thoughts on “Crash and Burn

  1. many of my all time favorite crashes are yours, Andy! one in the middle of fingers comes to mind, the best pin ball fall I’ve ever seen. Ya gotta go big to crash big, and you do! Andy, you rock!

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