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Return of the Quasar (Day 4)

Updated on April 25, 2020
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Today - for the first time in 5 years - I attempt the ROPE TOW (I didn't have the courage to try in 2010).

To read the previous hub, Day 3, please visit this link:

THE TOW.  I face it again, for the first time in 5 years.
THE TOW. I face it again, for the first time in 5 years.

Friday, August 8, 2014

"Vincent joined another class," Coach Jason told us, when we met at Timberline Lodge preparing for another day on the slopes. "He wanted to learn 180 degree jumps. Today, we're going to work on riding the rope tow."

I cringed, remembering how I'd floundered all over the place trying the thing in 2009. Riding a rope tow is much more difficult than it looks; it's actually easier to hike! I’d given a lot of thought regarding technique, coming to the conclusion I should lift my front foot to prevent catching my toe edge, but I didn't have the fortitude to try it in 2010. Now, after all this time, I finally had another opportunity.

Emily, John and I rode to the top of Palmer with Jason. Skipping the warm-up run, we entered the Park and headed towards the tow, to beat the crowd of kids. "Yoleen and Emily will be facing the rope, because you two ride regular," Jason informed us. "John will be facing away, since his stance is goofy. Unfortunately, John, that puts you at a disadvantage since it's harder that way." I remembered in 2009, I'd had to face away from the rope; maybe that was the problem. Perhaps I'll finally get it this time.

"Should we ride with our front leg pulled up?" I asked.

"That's not necessary, though you need to lean a little towards your back leg,” he answered. "This is how you do it. You get up close to the rope, hold your back hand like this," he held it palm outward with his thumb and fingers pointing downward, "and when a handle approaches you, push off and catch it with your hand.". He demonstrated with ease. "I'll have them slow it down for you to try."

I let Emily and John go first. John did really well, in spite of his disadvantage. Emily rode several yards on her second try. Then came my turn. Nervously I approached the rope, which seemed to move swiftly as a stream. "You have to get on the track underneath the rope tow," Jason explained. I scooted in right where I could be whacked by a handle. "Now hold out your hand and push off." I held it out, gave a. little push, caught the handle - and buckled over. "You have to push harder than that. Come back and try again," he said.

By then a line had formed. My anxiety growing by the minute, I waited my turn and tried again. On my 3rd try, I actually rode 20 yards - a record for me!

Rope tow for lower, larger half pipe
Rope tow for lower, larger half pipe
Riding the lower, larger half pipe
Riding the lower, larger half pipe
Giant pillow for high jumps
Giant pillow for high jumps
Side view of giant pillow
Side view of giant pillow

Already worn out from the previous 2 days, I decided not to push myself any further. I've found when I'm really fatigued, my fears either fade or become more pronounced; in this case, the latter was happening. While Jason had been working with me on the rope tow, John and Emily had gone to the lower jump. Now, we went down there to join them for lunch.

Afterwards, we were free to do what we wanted. Yesterday I had planned to catch air today; now the thought terrified me. I decided to ride over the jump 3 times, then call it a day. On my third run, I actually caught an inch of air without even trying!

On the way down the hill, I came to a giant pillow that had been installed at the edge of the Park. Shredders could fly off a jump and land on it. This was certainly a great way to train for going off the Giant Hip! I watched while Meese and several others did it. I had fantasized about cross training to the point where I could go off the hip at the end of a session, but I didn’t feel ready to even do this! But it was something to strive for, for next time.

Back at camp, I decided to take a nap. Afternoon activity consisted of a wax clinic for the adults; they teach you how to tune your board. I wasn’t interested, since living in Hawaii, I snowboarded so seldom I didn’t need the information. I checked out the street course skate park – reluctantly, because I was so tired. I figured this would be a good time for me to practice, because I’d made plans to take part in the skate contest, doing a goofy hula on my ripstick to a sappy Hawaiian song, “Please Don’t Go”. I was relieved to find it full of boys zipping around, making practicing out of the question, plus it was too hot to do much. I went back to my room, stretched, then took the much-needed nap.

I awoke in time for dinner. We ate at Ice Axe Brewpub, which is right in town. Afterwards was the Staff Sale, where counselors and coaches sell the excess from the goods given them by sponsoring snowboard companies. I spent that time downloading pictures on my computer from my camera and writing in my journal, so I missed that as well.

When I arrived at the Street Course, the park was empty and the weather had cooled. I decided this was a good time to practice skateboarding. Chains had been placed around the park, so using my regular board wasn’t feasible. I got my ripstick since it would be easier to navigate around the chains.

I faced an unpleasant surprise. I couldn’t bring myself to push off on the ripstick. I went to one end of the park to hold on to a rail, so I could roll down the slight embankment; even this, I found too unnerving to do.

Only a few little kids were hanging around, so I went inside the Lodge to look for an adult to hold me while I rolled around the Park. “Is the head skateboard coach here? I asked. It turned out he wasn’t, and all the other male staff members were busy with the campers staying at the Lodge. One woman counselor offered to help me. However, since I was much bigger than she was, I only rolled down the Park once. Not much of a practice session. It looked as if I wasn’t going to be in the skate contest this time – shucks!

Mega-moon over the Street Course Skate Park
Mega-moon over the Street Course Skate Park
Girls' Night
Girls' Night

It was 8pm. I knew they were soon going to have Roxy Night, which is girls gathering around the fire pit to make s’mores and tell stories. This is something specially for girls, who may feel overwhelmed at snowboard camp which is 75% male. The woman who helped me informed me they no longer call it Roxy Night, since Roxy had stopped sponsoring High Cascade; it was now called Girls’ Night instead. They don’t have an equivalent for adults; that’s why I was crashing the youth program.

While waiting, I hung out with one of the guy campers. We talked about snowboarding, skateboarding, and a bunch of stuff. We watched while the full moon came up; it was a mega moon, one of the biggest of the century. Some male counselors came and stoked the fire, bringing ingredients for the s’mores. Around 9pm, the girls started filing in. “Quick – start speaking in falsetto!” I said to the guy. He laughed.

The girls didn’t mind that he hung out. We started telling a number of stories. I told them my favorite snowboard joke:

“Shaun White went snowboarding in the back country all by himself, because he needed time alone to think. While he was there, a blizzard blew in, trapping him for several days. As a result, he suffered frostbite on his fingers and toes. Since he hadn’t bothered to buy medical insurance, he was really worried, wondering if he’d have to sell all his properties to pay the bill.

“After the blizzard ended, he was rescued and brought back to civilization. A doctor examined him, then left the room for a few minutes. He returned and said, ‘Well, I have good news and bad news. Which one do you want to hear first?’

“ ‘I can pretty much guess the bad news, so I’ll go with that one,’ Shaun White answered.

“ ‘The bad news is that I’m afraid we’ll have to amputate your fingers and toes,’ said the doctor.

“ ‘Ok, I figured that. But what could possibly be the good news?’

“ ‘The good news is, you don’t have to worry about your medical bill.’

“Shaun White was puzzled. ‘Really? Why?’

“ ‘You have a bunch of crazed fans in the waiting room wanting to auction them off.’ “

For some reason, that didn’t’ go over too well.

Another girl told a long, drawn out story about two horses that kept racing each other, until one spoke to the other, and a man said, “Oh, a talking horse!” Several other cracked up. I think maybe they weren’t ready for adult level jokes yet. Either that, or perhaps they thought mine was grose, or more suitable for guys?

After hanging out for an hour, we all went to bed.

To read the next hub, Day 5, please visit this link:

© 2015 Yoleen Lucas


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