It has been almost 16 years now since the February afternoon when I hit a patch of ice on the early portion of the Avenger trail on the Bear Peak side of Attitash. My skis let go of the surface, and I flew into the boundary of the woods, landing in a twisted pile with my helmet just scraping the root of a tree.
The first thing I heard were the voices of concerned peers, coming from the Flying Bear Quad chairlift just above me.
The second thing I noticed was the searing pain shooting through my left knee.
Two days later I visited my doctor, who told me I had, indeed, torn my ACL and sprained my MCL. I wouldn’t be skiing for a while, he said. That’s fine, I naively responded, as long as I would be OK for my trip to Lake Tahoe coming up in a few weeks.
He was nice enough to stifle his laughter.
Uh, no, he said, like done until next season.
I still went to Tahoe. Except, one of the highlights ended up being sitting in the Kirkwood lodge in the midst of a constant whiteout, reading a Bob Marley biography with my leg perched up on a chair. This, all while my friends made periodic visits, covered head-to-toe in powder, to try and convince me that I wasn’t really missing that much. Wink. Nod.
I recall this account due to what occurred the following year. I’m not sure I’ve ever logged more days on the mountain than I did during the 2006-07 season, buoyed by my rehabilitation, and wanting to cherish every moment — the same ones I had lost the previous season — that I possibly could. I’ve never taken skiing for granted, but in the wake of my injury, nor had I possibly ever appreciated it more either.
Which brings us to this season.
Sure, we were able to ski and ride last winter through pandemic restrictions, but it never really felt like we were getting the whole experience. The limitations stripped away the communal feeling of enjoying winter sports. Like professional sports teams playing in front of barren stadiums; they were still playing the games, but the experience of watching just felt empty.
It’s why I have the feeling that many of us will embrace this season as one of renewal. With fewer restrictions in place, we’re bound for a deeper appreciation of all the aspects of skiing and riding that we didn’t think we’d miss.
Last year, there were plenty of questions regarding how the season was going to go. This year, we’re back to the only one that really matters.
When is it going to snow?
Eric Wilbur can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org