And just like that, my season at Whitetail is through.
This weekend, I’m attending a women’s ski-and-toboggan clinic at Sno Mountain in Scranton, Penn. A few days later, we’ll be boarding a plane for a long-awaited ski vacation to the Alps and Dolomites. By the time we return, Whitetail will likely be long closed for the season. It’s all exciting stuff, but man, was it sad leaving Whitetail on Monday afternoon with the knowledge that we won’t be back until next season!
There were a lot of emotions swirling around as I packed up the car with the ski gear, snacks, bedding and other essentials I’ve amassed throughout the season. The chief emotion was disbelief—with the long trips between Whitetail, Virginia Beach and D.C. and the actual brevity of this winter (seven weeks for me—maybe nine weeks for the mountain?), the season went by in a blink.
Another emotion: Pride. As we pulled out of the parking lot, my chest swelled with the pride that follows the accomplishment of a long-term, challenging goal. It wasn’t the attainment of the red coat that made me feel all warm and fuzzy, but the fact that I nailed a process-based goal I set for myself back in physical therapy, when I channeled Tim Tebow through this quote from his UF days: “I promise you one thing: A lot of good will come out of this. You have never seen any player in the entire country play as hard as I will play the rest of the season.” As I watched Whitetail fade into the distance in my rearview mirror, I realized that I lived up to the Tebow promise and then some: A lot of good came out of this (this=my ACL tear). You have never seen any ski patroller try as hard as I tried this season.
But most of all, I felt a rush of gratitude thinking of all the people who helped me get here. Anytime you set out to accomplish a goal that feels out of your reach, you need someone who believes in you before you believe in yourself. Even in my roughest days of training, I had a whole cadre of cheerleaders—Steve, my friends, my classmates, the S&T instructors—reminding me that they believed I could get there. And I did.
Some other things that happened over the weekend:
I gave Steve a few sled rides to practice my toboggan skills. It was a really pleasing sense of role reversal, since he spent last season towing my gimpy butt around in a sled. He took a few pictures from the passenger’s seat.
I celebrated with my class. On Sunday afternoon, we gathered to take a new class picture—you know, one in which I’m not weeping silently in the back row, or wearing a knee immobilizer.
After posing for a few photos, a few of my classmates took off to go work a shift on top of the beginners’ ski lift, Easy Rider, while the rest of us hung out on top of the mountain. Not more than a minute later, we heard one of our classmates’ voices on the radio, calling in a 10-50, or injury. Now, I’d been hoping for my first “transport” all day, so when we heard the call, I grabbed a sled and headed that way—with the rest of my class in tow. Since Steve still had our camera around his neck from the class photos, he actually took a bunch of photos while the seven of us worked to accomplish what’s essentially a one- or two-person job. I’ll spare the patient—a sweet, good sport of a woman who’d twisted her knee—the embarrassment of having her photo on this blog. But suffice it to say that there’s a photo of us in which we’re all grinning like idiots—including the patient.
The presence of all my classmates made the incident feel like one of our practice scenarios. Of course, it wasn’t, and the patient’s gratitude (like I said, she was a really good sport) drove home the very reason I spent so long training—so that when I actually transported a patient in a sled, it felt like second nature. Which is a pretty good way to end a season, if you ask me.