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Black Diamond Triumph February 16, 2009

Posted by markgeil in Family.

We went skiing this weekend. None of the girls had been before, but they all learned quickly and after a few hours had mastered the chair lift, the “green circle” beginner slope, and the snowplow. Later, Sarah and Hannah had moved up to the intermediate “blue square” slopes. By about 9:00 that night, when the sun had set and the slushy snow had started to freeze over, Sarah and Hannah decided their day would not be complete unless they at least attempted a “black diamond” slope. So, up we went, all the way to the top of the mountain, to stand at the edge of the “Upper Omigosh”. The thing with downhill skiing is, you can’t really “attempt” a trail and then change your mind halfway down. And halfway down was when Hannah wanted to change her mind.

Her motivation was timeless: she refused to let a certain boy best her. Owen had skied a black diamond; therefore, she must. On the steep hill, skis scraping on the ice, in the nastiest of conditions, that motivation faded. The snowplow just wasn’t doing it, she kept falling, and her big sister was already halfway down the slope. She even declared, “This was not worth it!” But when you’re stuck on the middle of a hill, and you can’t really climb back up, you just have to keep going. So she did.

We got her skis back on after another fall, and just as she popped up an equally novice snowboarder almost crashed into us, essentially giving her a sizeable push down the hill. She scraped over the ice in her snowplow, rapidly picking up speed, and somehow failing to turn. Here’s the thing: any skier knows that turning slows you down and going straight speeds you up. Hannah was going decidedly straight.

Here’s the other thing: when you’re only a few hours from Atlanta, you can’t count on a lot of snow. The slope we were on had a decent base of mostly machine-made snow, but everywhere else was barren forest. So, the edges of the slopes were sheer 80-inch drop-offs, straight into the barren, rocky, forest. With lots of rocks. And trees. That’s what Hannah was skiing toward. Faster, and faster, and faster.

I yelled, “HANNAH! TURN! NOW!” as I skied toward her as fast as I could. With no more than two feet to spare, she did not turn, but instead fell into the ice hard enough to stop herself before she fell over the edge. Whew. I caught up to her, gave her a little lecture about the edges and their impending doom, and she gamely got back up and managed a few icy snowplow turns between crashes, eventually making it all the way down.

She was still not sure if it was all worth it until the following happened. Amy was calling a friend, catching up on the weekend. Classmate boy who motivated the near-death experience happened to be in the friend’s garage. Friend stepped out and said, “Hey Owen, guess what? Hannah Geil did a black diamond run.” Owen paused, looked down a little, and said in disgust, “Dangit.” That made it all worth it.



1. Sarah Geil - February 17, 2009

Quick correction! We let Sarah do the begginers course once, and then immediatly sent her FALLING on the intermediate, no wonder I have the name Wipeout! No really: thanks so much for taking us, I had such an amazing time! I will remeber it always! Love, Wipeout! (I am glad Hannah’s still alive and that I had already skiied past you for the little lecture!)

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