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Monday, March 07, 2005

A Dangerous Sport

Another person has died on the slopes (reported by the Detroit News this morning):
Indiana man dies while snowboarding at Crystal Mountain

THOMPSONVILLE, Mich. (AP) -- A 21-year-old snowboarder died after he lost control while attempting a jump at Crystal Mountain resort and hit the ground, the Benzie County sheriff's department says.

Joas L. Miller of Shipshewana, Ind., was pronounced dead at the scene about 6:30 p.m. Saturday, the sheriff's department said. The death remained under investigation Sunday by the medical examiner and other authorities.

"The ski patrol went up there and tried to revive him but he didn't respond," said resort president and general manager Jim MacInnes. "It's just a sad thing for a young man. Our heart goes out to his family." (link)
If you watch the news on television each evening, you'd think we had a major problem with handgun safety. With SUV's. With table salt. But none of those compare to winter skiing.

Paula and I lived for a number of years near Mount Brighton, Michigan, a weekend ski facility. By the standards set out in Aspen or Steamboat or Vail, Mt. Brighton is a bump in the road; a tiny set of hills upon which "snow" (ice) is manufactured for us "weekend warriors."

What separates Mt. Brighton from Aspen besides the vista and the degree of diffculty of the skiing is the relative experience - or lack thereof - of the skiers. Most of those who travelled to Mt. Brighton were the kind of people - like me - who took the time on just a few occasions a year to strap on the skis and hurtle down the slope - for 45 seconds.

I have often said that the most fun I had at Mt. Brighton was waiting in the lift line at the bottom of the hill, watching totally inexperienced skiers - completely out of control - come crashing into an unsuspecting group of fun-seekers down below. Or watching people with virtually no experience speeding down the hill without any understanding of how to apply the brakes. I can remember one pitiful snowbunny (I remember she was wearing the most elegant lavender ski suit) crash headfirst into a hill at the bottom of a run and bury her entire head in the snow. She was last seen being being pulled up the hill on a stretcher by the rescue squad's snowmobile.

I know this is not funny. And that somebody should pass a law banning skiing. And that I should be ashamed of myself for finding morbid pleasure in the pain and suffering of others. But (God strike me down for saying this) I enjoyed the spectacle.

Shoot, I would have paid money just to sit at the base of Mt. Brighton and watch the avalanche of humanity come hurtling, screaming, crying, pleading toward me.

That and a case of Bud would have made for a great day on Mt. Brighton.