Friday I went night snowboarding at Shawnee Peak. I hadn’t been snowboarding under the lights since I was in college in Idaho in 1992. Shawnee is a small mountain with short runs, but it’s close and inexpensive.
Most of the people there–skiers and boarders–seemed to be learning. The lift lines were short; most trips up the mountain I was in the chair alone. The trails, likewise, were wide open, which made it perfect for me to practice and go fast. Too fast.
This was my fifth time on a mountain this year and my confidence was pretty high. Carving is becoming quite natural and automatic. The powder on the mountain made the ground soft and turning effortless. All of this combined to make me believe there would be few consequences from picking up a bit of speed and flying down the mountain. I was wearing my new helmet with built-in headphones, and I was enjoying the sounds of April Smith and The Great Picture Show.
I fell a few times, but nothing major. I took every opportunity to find a bump to try to get some air and stick a landing, even if very small. I was having fun. Mostly, I was enjoying going fast.
The last run of the night (the injury run is always the last, almost by necessity) was much like all the others before it. Then I made an error. I was going as fast as my board would take me: the nose of my board was pointed directly at the base of the mountain and I was leaning forward and slightly tucked. I do not recall the specific mistake which led to the fall. I do remember quite clearly pulling in my arms to protect my shoulders, elbows and wrists. Time seemed to simultaneously speed up and slow down. In a moment it was all over. I had hit my right hip and butt very hard, and twisted and rolled down the mountain. I was hurting.
As I lay on the slope I knew my injuries weren’t major. The pain was coming mostly from an area I knew was large muscles and thick bones. My shoulder hurt a little, but not enough to be a concern. My head also hurt and I was a bit dizzy, but I was wearing my new helmet. After assessing my injuries and determining they weren’t life threatening, I got up and rode to the base of the mountain, removed my snowboard, and took the agonizing and slow walk to my car.
It’s been two full days since the accident. I am still quite sore. Mostly I feel old. Twenty years ago I would have walked it off for a few minutes and rode the chair to the summit for another speedy run. Not anymore. I’ll ride again. Soon. Perhaps tomorrow. But I’ll go slower and not take such big risks.