Most ski accidents happen at the end of the day when people are tired and sloppy. To avoid the tired and the sloppy, I've become one of those overly cautious people who skips the last run of the day to get off the slope before the assaults start.
At 3:00 today, I started heading for the lodge. A guy up ahead was lying in the snow unable to get to his feet. Good Samaritan that I am, I helped him up. "Thanks man, I'm just so wasted, I been lying there for twenty minutes. "Happy St.Patty's Day," he says.
Crap, St. Patrick's Day -- people will be drunk, in addition to tired and sloppy.
Five minutes later, as I'm racing to the lodge to avoid the drunks, I'm blindsided and launched into the snow. I was only twenty feet from the lodge. So close...
Normally, in a fall like this, I give myself a quick scan for broken bones and damage to internal organs. But this time, I looked over at my assailant: It was a snowboarder. It was a snowboarder with baggy pants and a soul patch. And a St. Patty's Day ribbon on his helmet.
I opened my mouth to speak and instead of asking if he's OK, I said the following:
"You fucking ASSHOLE!"
"You FUCKING asshole!"
"You are SUCH a fucking asshole."
Then I swung my ski pole at him. Then I swung it again.
I have to confess that I hate snowboarders. In New England, they often ski/ride out of control. They also face sideways as they ride, like a surfer, which means they have a blind spot. They are also young and get all the cute snowboarder women. I am neither young, nor do I get any cute snowboarder women.
So, back to Big Sky. After I stopped cursing and stop trying to sever his carotid artery with my ski pole, his two friends pulled up. They were also unshaven snowboarders who no doubt get all the snowboarder women.
"Hey man, that was really uncalled for," one of them said, in some kind of twangy accent.
"That was really over the top, swinging your pole like that," the other one said in a twangier accent.
Then I was on my feet. "Your fucking friend hit me in the back."
"No, I saw it, you cut in front of him," a friend said.
At this point the assailant was still on the ground and the two friends were standing but hadn't moved towards me. As a skier I am armed with two ski poles. A snowboarder has no weapons.
Time for another confession: When it comes to fighting, I am a pussy. I am tall and skinny, the kind of physique designed more for running and hiding, than for fighting. I respect my limitations.
"The downhill skier always has the right of way," I said. (Which is true in New England. I don't know how they do it out here in Montana.)
"You cut him off," one of the friends said. Then I notice him taking a closer look at me and shaking his head.
"You're a grown man," he said. "You should know better than to curse like that and swing a ski pole. That's just wrong."
At that point, my temper had subsided. The assailant was still on the ground. His friends were probably not going to attack me.
I started to feel embarrassed.
I started to worry about generating bad ski karma that could lead to a real ski accident.
Then I recalled that in Montana it is legal to carry a weapon.
It also became apparent that none of these guys was drunk
I turned to the guy on the ground. "Are you OK?"
He nodded yes.
"I'm really embarrassed," I said. "I shouldn't have swung my pole at him. I'm sorry. Are you sure you're OK?"
Now I am off to happy hour. Hopefully, I won't run into those three guys. Just in case, I'll wear my running shoes.
For more stories on bad behavior on skis, read about a recent trip to British Columbia, where pot smoking is legal.
Day One: Slippery Cab Drivers
Day Two: Who Said Canadians are Nice?
Day Three: Scoring Weed, Dead Skiers