I was eight years old again, staring down at my skis like they were the coolest things I'd ever seen. They were. But once you're an adult, you're not supposed to be so passionately materialistic, or at least you're not supposed to cop to it in public. So riding the chair at Loveland, I just stared through my goggles, maintaining what little detachment I can normally muster.
But inside I was cackling madly like some maniacal villain out of Dr. No. "They're mine! They're MINE! THEY'RE ALL MINE! HAHAHAA!
Truth is, they look pretty trick, with their elegantly rounded tip, old-school vertical sidewalls and, if you turn the ski in the light just so, a 3-D, am-I-shrooming iridescent Inuit-inspired graphic. Plus, they're 193's. Cool.
To top off my fantasy, it had snowed 18 inches overnight and Loveland had opened up a bounty of untracked hike-to terrain. "It's mine! IT'S ALL MINE! HAHAHAA!
I hiked for five minutes and then dropped into Wild Child, straight-lining the first 100 vert (these skis need speed to turn, honest!). I arced one turn, then another, and another, and then…
I hit a rock going so fast it ripped the ski off my left foot. I barreled down the fall line on my remaining board, coming to a stop after a hard left turn. I looked up and, by some miracle, saw the tail of the ski sticking out of the snow. When I finally reached the ski, my stomach dropped to my knees: There was a foot-long, inch-wide gash straight to the core.
"No! No! NOOO!
Most skiers would not be so upset. For many, a scratch on the topsheet is more traumatic. But for those of us who go out there to challenge the mountain, and who rely on our equipment to take us there and get us back, nothing is more ugly than a core shot or a blown edge. These things affect how we ski, which is far more important than how we look.
That morning, I clicked back into my skis, and despite the left foot drag, I skied until four. It was a powder day, after all. Then I drove straight home for my P-tex gun. I knew I wouldn't be satisfied until I'd treated the injury and brought my skis back to life. I also knew I would be back cackling again the next day, granite be damned.