by Beth Boswell Jacks
We were in Colorado, see -- four couples of us -- on an annual snow skiing trip. Picture the setting. Gorgeous, sunshiny days; soaring mountains; fluffy snow; warm fires in the fireplace; lots of laughter and camaraderie.
But, hold on. To tell this story right, let's go all the way back to last year's skiing trip. Same four couples.
January, 2004: We went out to eat one night, accompanied by our pal Jacqueline (a hometown gal who relocated to the Snowmass/Aspen area years ago) and her longtime friend Kjell (pronounced shell), who is originally from Norway and came to Colorado in the 60s as a whiz bang ski instructor.
Really, whiz bang can't touch him. True to his Viking heritage, he is Nordic, good-looking, macho, and an expert on the slopes.
But the men in our party (Robert, Paul, Hugh, and hubby G-Man) are also terrific skiers, or so they say.
The cockiest of the crew, however, is Robert. I must add that Robert has every right to his claims to skiing fame because he is cute as a bug and can scoot all over the mountain like a fly on a watermelon.
But as that particular dinner evening last winter progressed, Robert's boasting grew bigger and bolder, stories of his skiing exploits became wilder and more incredible, until Kjell finally smirked and said, "Tomorrow you ski with me!"
Hugh had better sense; he declined the invitation. The other three accepted.
They were muttering about moguls big as Volkswagens, lost skis, cliffs, rocks, uphill hikes in deep powder, and prayers that went: "Mammma, save me!"
Kjell had been especially hard on Robert, who vowed he would never speak to the man again even if the whole future of the world depended on it.
Fast forward now to Winter, 2005. We arrived in Snowmass shortly before noon, then headed to the Stewpot in the village. During lunch we discussed the 2004 skiing debacle.
Robert emphasized once again he was having no more of Kjell. Not ever.
Snowmass Mountain is a big place. Thousands of acres of skiing trails. Thousands of people slip and slide down the slopes. Hundreds visit the shops and eating spots in the village.
But, finishing our meal, we gathered outside the restaurant and immediately heard, "Well, hello there, Booooozer!"
Yep. It was Kjell.
Robert flipped around and headed in the opposite direction, but we dragged him back and, to his credit, he was polite to Kjell and we had a good but brief visit.
I'd like to report they were on a black slope like The Edge or Elevator Shaft, but the truth is, they were on a bunny slope called (ready for this?) Sunnyside.
Slick stuff is not good for a skier, expert or otherwise. Robert hit the ice, executed a semi-athletic spin, and ended up, legs splayed, skiing backwards with his nose carving a trough in the snow.
Eventually stopping the awkward descent, he lay writhing in pain. Turned out he had a severe leg injury and needed a stretcher to get down the mountain. The Ski Patrol guy arrived, and just as Robert was about to be loaded (heh heh), up skied . . . Kjell.
Thousands of skiers. Hundreds of trails. But here loomed Robert's nemesis.
"Be kind," Hugh told Kjell.
"I am not getting on that stretcher till he leaves," pouted Robert, grimacing and clutching his leg.
The moral of this story?
Editor of USADEEPSOUTH, Beth Boswell Jacks is the author of 3 books (Grit, Guts, and Baseball and Snippets I and II) and is also a weekly columnist for a number of Southern newspapers. Readers and editors may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Read about Beth's SNIPPETS books -- two collections of her columns.
To ski or not to ski -- that is the question!
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