Crashing is an inevitable part of skiing. For most people most of the time though the only thing hurt is pride. Crashes can be (or look) quite minor or they can be (or look) very nasty. I found an interesting article by Charles Robinson on ski crashing at Yahoo:
Not only do champions crash, they spent years learning how to crash – a set of ground rules to draw upon in the split second when an inevitable fall is coming. It’s a sort of emergency guide to engaging catastrophe, then figuring out how to control the ensuing chaos.
I have yet to see any sort of ski instruction or guidance on what to do in the event of a crash, what I do see is usually found on sites dedicated to ski medicine and the advice is not to try to get back up until you are completely still.
My quest is slightly different than all of that. I am interested in the following quandary: If the choice is between certain and serious (possibly life threatening) injury from running into someone or something versus the lower risk of injury from taking a digger into the snow: what is the proper way to take that digger? I have not seen any discussion or advice on that.
Back to Charles’ article.
But Maier’s pinwheel in Nagano is more than just a miraculous clip on YouTube. It’s actually a prime example that illustrates how luck and some manipulation can make all the difference in a fall. Because while all crashes aren’t controllable, elite skiers do have a highly tuned ability to sort out variables inside the millisecond when they lose control.
“It all goes in slow motion,” said T.J. Lanning, a U.S. Skier whose run to Vancouver was halted by a fall on the World Cup circuit that dislocated his knee and fractured a vertebrae. “A crash I had in Kitzbuhel [Austria], where I injured my knee, when I watch it on video, it happened in just a few seconds. But when it was occurring, I had time to realize, ‘OK, I just blew out my knee, now here comes the net – what can I do to not make this worse?’ You’re in the moment and the adrenaline is pumping. You’re not really thinking about crashing. You’re thinking about, ‘How can I save this?’”
The problem I have with this article is its stress on world cup skiers and the general insinuation that dealing with crashes is an ability or skill only world cup athletes possess.
When I get into trouble at speed, I experience many of the things noted above. Time slows down and I am much more aware of what I need to accomplish. If I go down then I hope for a binding release, absent that, I am waiting for the right time to get on my side and feet in the air so the skis are off of the snow.