the crash...

This lifestyle is a constant balancing of the probabilities of the risk/reward function. We have to make decisions on acceptable risk throughout our day, every day. Avalanches, rocks, speed, snow condition, line, trajectory, and on and on. Also, no one factor exists in the definite at the time the decisions have to be made. Balancing odds at 2 to 1, 10 to 1, or 100 to 1. There is always that 1. This crash that has broken me off for a good spell was on a cliff that ranks into the routine for me. A 35 foot lincoln loop like this one is part of my everyday as a pro skier. Miscalculations in trajectory, rock exposure, snow pack depth, trick choice, and probably other unforeseen factors tipped the balance of the situation for me in this decision. Steve Lloyd was the photographer that I was with and he has let me use the photo sequence of the crash to tell the story.

^Here I am coming into my last turn before the take off.

^Laying in that last edge before flinging myself over into the lincoln loop rotation over the cliff.

^At the start of the rotation I am looking towards my landing zone, and I am still confident that my landing will be smooth and deep.

^So I go into the blind part of the rotation, and as you can tell my body positioning is still relatively tight and confident.

^At this point I am turning my head around continuing to lead the rotation, and starting to look for the landing. Still confident and relatively tight.

^Now I have my head around enough to start to realize the trajectory of my flight is slightly off to the left and I am heading towards a rock spine that was on the skier's left side of my landing zone. I still appear to be in the clear, but closer then I wanted to be. You can notice my legs start to open up some as I question myself.

^Now I am really starting to realize that it is going to be much closer then I really wanted, and I am opening up more and beginning to brace for what might be coming.

^At this point I am totally opening up and even moving my left hand down into a position to try to possibly brace myself against the rock that is going to be really close to where I am about to land.

^In this frame I am actually figuring out that I am not going to hit the rock that I could see to my left, and I had a clean snow landing coming under my feet. I am tightening up and beginning to get the landing gear back underneath me.

^My confidence is restoring and I am touching down for what I thought was going to be just another close call landing, and I needed to try to stick it enough to at least ski away from it. Then chalk it up for another "almost moment".

^This is the point of realization that all is not okay, and I am actually hitting a rock deeper under the snow with my left buttcheek. If you look closely at my skis you can tell that my left ski is up higher then my right ski because the left ski tail is up on the rock that my butt is now hitting. The rock bounced me out of the bomb hole into a couple cartwheels. I knew right away that I was pretty busted up when I stood up out of my fall. A quick and dirty assessment of myself and I made a snap judgement call to avoid a helicopter rescue and ski the mellow skin path route back down to the road. This route from Cardiff Peak is relatively mellow and all downhill from my crash site. So I yelled up to Steve and said," I am broken, and I know I am breaking the rules, but I am getting out of here now before I start to stiffen up." I gave Carsten Oliver my pack and headed down. I got all the way to the road relatively quickly and easily. However, when I got to the line of cars along the road I could not get in between them. I had Carsten and Eliele help me with my skis, and they shouldered me through the tight space between the cars. Then they laid me down in the snowbank. At this point we called the ambulance for a ride to the hospital, and a wild scene of what seemed like 30 doctors and nurses running around me poking and pinching me all over while shouting instructions. After the dust settled I found myself in a hospital bed with a large stiff brace around my torso, and a real pain in my ass. Final prognosis was three fractures in my pelvis, and a compression spinal fracture of my L4 vertebrae. Luckily the spinal fracture was such that my disc blew out in three pieces in opposite directions like an exploded peace sign centered on my spinal chord. As a result there was no displacing movement in my spine and therefore no spinal chord damage.

^Determined to remain positive I slapped a big FlyLow sticker on my brace and prepared myself for the long but possible journey to recovery. I believe in the power of positive energy on the human existence, and I was determined to get my mind right to be able to set myself up for a quick and quality rehabilitation. This crash did not take my legs or my life and I should be thankful for that, and as a result pursue the rest of my life with corresponding zest and appreciation. I am blessed, but I know it and I live my life in tribute to all the powers that have delivered me to my charmed existence.