St. Patrick’s Day
The two ski buddies met at the bottom of the Ridge Rocket high-speed quad. Barrman and Cookster smiled beneath their masks as they pushed through the gates for another ski day.
It wasn’t just any ski day it was a day to celebrate. Cookster was on his one-hundredth day and it was one day over a year since the mountain closed because of the pandemic.
It was also St. Patrick’s Day. It was going to be a good day! Or so the two snow-riders thought as the chair whisked them to the heavens. Blue sky enveloped the world around them and the freshly groomed slopes called to them.
“Let’s head for Paradise before they close it for racing.” Cookster pointed to the race team as they went by the chair.
“Sounds like a plan,” Barrman chuckled to himself, this was a beauty day. And no one was there yet.
With anticipation and excitement, the friends pushed off from the top of the chair and headed to Paradise.
The energy built and Barrman tested his brand-new skis. This was the first time he had bought new skis and they felt a bit strange under his feet.
They felt fast.
The sign pointed to Paradise and the two buddies carved the newly groomed snow. Cookster in wide fast sweeping turns and Barrman in his usual old school quick turns. Cookster slowed and checked with the guy setting up the racecourse. Barrman turned right and opened up his turns a bit more. He carved left and suddenly.
Cookster was right there.
The two skiers collided with such force Cookster left his feet and spun into a tree. Barrman hollered in pain and fear. He felt like he had just been run over by a truck. Except the truck was his buddy.
The fifty-year-old skier lay there and collected his thoughts and processed his pain. His knees were ok, his back was still sore, but that’s nothing new.
It was his head that pounded worst. Slowly he gathered himself and looked around. Where was Cookster? Was he ok?
“Dude! Are you alright?” Barrman turned himself around and sat up. He saw his buddy and a couple of other skiers at the edge of the run. Groggily he tried to rise.
He sat back down and realized he would need another minute.
“Are you ok?” Voices penetrated the fog and Barrman tried again to stand.
“I think so, kinda…” Barrman looked over again at Cookster who was standing up putting on his wayward ski. “You ok man?”
“No,” was all he said.
“Let’s get to the chair and assess the situation.” Cookster looked over, “you ok to make it down?”
Barrman pushed hard one more time and managed to stand on his new skis. This was not the way this day was supposed to go. “I think so…”
He turned his boards downward and started to turn again toward the bottom of the run. The rattled skier tried to process what happened, and how. It was a perfect storm of bad timing. Cookster zigged, he zagged and boom they collided with a force that sent them both for a terrible spin.
At least nothing was broken.
After skiing thousands of runs with so many people, he guessed it was inevitable that there could be a collision between friends. He hoped never to repeat that one.
Cookster stood at the line waiting for Barrman. “Day one hundred was not supposed to start that way.” He turned and pushed himself toward the chair.
Barrman quietly cruised up beside him. “Let’s not do that again.”
The two skiers rode the Ridge Chair back into the alpine, more aware and warier for their experience. Tentatively they both tested their weary bodies and found themselves wanting for more turns on snow.
The men-children continued with their adventure of the day, even going to Gem Lake and back. Despite the aches and pains, the riders pushed on. Cookster declared he was going to get in 25 runs to celebrate day 100. Barrman headed in to get his kid out on the slopes.
Barrman managed to connect with his beautiful daughter on the spring softening snow. The duo went to the Gem and back and even skied the steep trees on the Falcon chair. It was an afternoon that topped off the joy of the day.
The ski buddies and their wives met up at The Globe for a celebratory beer and double shot of Jameson Irish Whiskey. It was St. Paddy’s day after all.
The music moved the friends with new connections in their mountain paradise. The bands played to the muted excitement of the crowd. The singer with the band Under The Rocks summed up the feelings of the people swaying to the music.
“I wish you could dance!” The bearded banjo player looked through the plexiglass at the people sitting in their chairs. An audience separated yet united in the music flowing through the air.
It was a St. Patrick’s day like no other. Cookster and Barrman would not forget their collision in Paradise. The band would not forget the day they played behind glass walls to the people of Big White. The people would not forget a day to come together and celebrate in separation.
Hopefully, this will be the last time any of that happens. Hopefully, the next St. Patrick’s day will be a celebration of togetherness, a celebration of hugs, singing, and dancing. Hopefully…