Buzz Cohn loves to ski and wrote the following:
My 45-year passion for skiing continues with at least annual trips out West—the last being to Copper Mountain in February 2009. In the 1980’s I attended a ski racing camp which sparked my interest in NASTAR racing & culminated in my receiving gold medals at 3 major resorts at the age of 52. [NASTAR (NAtional STAndard Race) racing is a program where recreational skiers of all ages and abilities can test their skills on courses set up at resorts.]
Ira asked me to write about some ski racing adventures. Since it’s more entertaining to hear about someone’s foibles than triumphs, I’ll relate three experiences under the categories of: My most embarrassing moment, The dumbest thing I ever did & Best unintentional put-down.
Most Embarrassing Moment: I was at the starting gate at the top of a NASTAR course. Wanting to achieve the shortest possible time, I decided to do what the “real racers” do in leaning forward, with my shins & feet most posterior so that they would be the last part of my body to trip the wand. The wand in turn would start the clock. An additional maneuver you’ve seen the pros use is to jump out of the gate to start acceleration. In performing the jump-start, I did it so forcibly that my boots came out of the ski bindings. I landed several feet from the starting gate, flat on my face in the snow with my skis still remaining in place behind the wand.
There were 15 to 20 racers in line behind me who were polite enough not to cheer or laugh. I quickly reconstituted my equipment & reduced self esteem, re-entered the starting position & began the descent through the course – this time being more than happy to sacrifice the 1-1.5 seconds a more aggressive start might have gained me.
Dumbest Thing I Ever Did: I was in Taos, NM during midweek & the only racer at the top of the NASTAR course. It was laid out in such a way that I could not see the course from the lift, nor the whole course from the top. I disobeyed the tenet of taking a slow, non-timed run beside the course to check it out. Every course I had been on before or since (& what you see on TV) levels off after the finish line or even goes uphill a little.
As I was feeling especially aggressive, I did a regular timed run initially, at full speed. After passing the last gate before the finish line, you usually go into a tuck to decrease wind resistance & gain additional speed. Just after I zoomed past the finish line, the hill dropped off sharply instead of leveling out. I went out of control & ended up in the woods – fortunately uninjured.
The only thing dumber than not checking out a ski-racing course before running it, is laying one out with a sharp drop off after the finish line.
Best Unintentional Put-down: When I was in my mid 40’s, I was turning in my skis to the rental shop after spending several days at Heavenly Valley at Lake Tahoe. The attendant, about 15 years old, asked if I had had a good time skiing. I answered affirmatively. He then said, completely sincerely & respectfully, “ I think it’s really nice that someone your age is still interested in the sport.”
Needless to say, I’m fond of quoting that teenage philosopher concerning certain non-outdoor recreational activities.
Buzz Cohn (See Buzz’s determined smile up close in the Other People’s Photos section at the top of the Home Page)