Monday, January 23, 2006

A first ski injury! Woohoo!

Yes, I did in fact get (slightly) injured yesterday, but we had a fantastic day nonetheless.

Started off the day early with a 5AM wakeup to get ready for the 6AM pickup. Quickly threw my stuff together and headed out the door to Motoki's ski-ready vehicle. We then headed over to pick up Kobayashi-san and then swung by Alex's place. When we got there and he wasn't outside, my mind flashed back to the last time we went skiing.... but thankfully he was in fact just about ready and made it to the car at 6:23, only 3 minutes later than scheduled... good job kid!

So we headed out on the highway to get to Inawashiro, the skies were relatively clear and so the drive went well. After stopping by a rental shop where Yoshi got a great deal on rental equipment, we got to ALTS, and from the parking lot, we could see it was a pretty big place. It's got a few different flanks coming from 2 mountains, so it's pretty widely spaced out with 2 covered quads and a gondolla with about 8 other lifts running around the mountain.

When we got to the top, it was still a bit cloudy but the view was spectacular nonetheless. This is what I was sorry to miss when we went to Hunter Mountain and it snowed all day. In fact ALTS isn't even that high, with the lifts starting at a very low elevation, unlike Hunter who operates from 1200-1800 meters.

One of the most striking features of the view from up here was this huge shining lake off to the left of the resort, depending on the sun's position it was sometimes blinding white, sometimes blue, always purty.

Here is smiling Master Yoshi, doing great considering it's only his 3rd time boarding. I will admit that some day in the future, I will consider trying it out. Maybe around the time that my 4th pair of skis needs replacing and I'm bored skiing whatever hills are around where I happen to be living at the time. But for now, (with apologies to all boarder friends of mine) I am still a skier and must abide by the laws which state that "Boarders suck" for having to crisscross left to right on the hills.

This cloud-shrouded peak is serviced by the gondolla which runs about half way up. Unfortunately the runs coming off it were not that great the one time we went down there and we decided not to bother going back. With the covered lifts, there was no reason to take the gondolla other than to ski to the middle part of the hill, which we didn't get to this time around.

The scenery alone was worth the trip... even if the skiing was shitty here, which it isn't, I would consider coming on up once in a while anyways.

Here is Kurokawa-san and I, thanks a bunch for a great day of skiing Motoki... here's hoping there will be plenty more in the future!

As the sky gradually cleared out, we could see further and further until this lovely grouping of hills appeared.

Alex giving horns in support of the champion University of Texas Longhorns, the college football team depicted on his hat.

Gotta love the mountains.

We discovered a lovely snow park to the far left of the resort and Alex tried his hand at a jump or two, looking pretty damn good doing it too.

From the far left lift, we had a great view of the far right peak which seemed to always have a cloud hanging around the top of it.

Of course dear Alex spent the day listening to some tuneage on his Ipod, and making strange faces once in a while as he sang along...

So that was the day in pictures, at around 1:00, we stopped for lunch and then headed back out and skied a bit more before what I will refer to as the "incident" occurred. We had just left Motoki and Yoshi at the top of the hills puting on their bindings and were going down the hill at our regular speed. I was maybe three yard behind Alex, and at the bottom of a slope, while turning right and before entering a second slope, a snowboarder with a white jacket cut across my path and we smacked pretty damn hard. I was going down the hill, he was boarding perpendicular to it. I just about avoided him but didn't quite make it and my front right shoulder hit his back left shoulder and we went flying. It took me a few moments to get my bearings and catch my breath, I remember the fall and the following tumbles vividly with my head telling me that each impact had in fact not broken anything. I took stock for a bit to make sure nothing hurt too bad and sat up. Looking back, there were a few people on the ground, all but one of which were getting up and dusting off. When I initially tried to stand up, things went white and I got dizzy so I sat back down again. I am certain I didn't hit my head, so it was probably adrenaline or shock. A few minutes later I tried again and still got dizzy so I sat back down. By this time, the ski patrol had arrived and was checking out a guy in a green jacket whom I had not seen up until this point and who was complaining of pretty bad leg pain. The patroller checked me out, I told him my shoulder was sore but was otherwise ok and I was then able to stand up. As the discussions began as to what happened, it was clear no one had any idea what happened except for me and the boarder I hit. What happened after that was just a cloud of snow and flying ski equipment. At one point, I distinctly remember someone saying that the injured guy was coming down behind us and ran into the accident himself, which would make sense since he was higher on the slope than myself and about at the same place as white jacket boarder dude.

So the patrol did their thing, brought in a stretcher for the guy and I was able to ski down the hill with them to the rescue center. I was again checked out by a patroller and a nurse, given some cold packs for my shoulder, filled out a report and headed out the door. The guy I hit was also released, but the unknown guy was shipped off in an ambulance with a knee injury. Too bad. Great big thanks to Motoki, Yoshi and Alex for providing translation services during the accident and it's aftermath. And a message to all boarders out there, if you HAVE to choose someone who's path to cross, make sure it's not the biggest and fastest skier on the hill... cause you'll get hurt. All in all, I think we both ended up with the same injury, just to opposite shoulders. Yesterday my arm felt weak but I could move it... I now have limited upwards mobility, but can carry things fine and if I grunt my way through the pain, I can get my arm to go in any direction. I'm sure I'll be fine, but I may wait a few weeks before another ski trip, just on the odd chance of aggravating it any more than I need to.

So we headed back home, hit Utsunomiya around 8:30 and I pretty much just dumped my crap on the floor, took a shower and went to bed. I slept for about 10 hours, though I was waking up every once in a while with some pain, but this morning I felt decidedly better.

Headed in to the office and met our newly arrived sensei, Matt. Seems like a great guy, I'm sure he'll fit right in with the whole crew out here. Following the meet and greet, I headed out to Nagasaks to pick up some supplies for tonight's birthday feast. I am relatively pleased with the results of my first cream-based pasta sauce, but I will likely add cheese to the mix next time around to give it some extra zip. Wine helped this time around, and it was quite good but it could have been better. Either way, the meal was appreciated, we capped it off with Alex's (step?) mom's bread cinnamon roll thing and it was quite tasty.

So now it's time for bed... next week should be great with having Matt around and showing him the ropes. We'll be sad to see Alex go on Wednesday but he's said he'll come back up here for skiing. He currently has no assignment so will be working out of Tokyo for the next little while. Next Saturday is the Welcome party for Matt, no plans for Sunday\Monday. If the arm is feeling up to it, I may head out skiing again on Monday, we shall see.

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