Sunday, 10 September 2017

First Challenge, First Chair

Hello there sunshine and welcome back! Ok ok, let me yell at myself for you... "Welcome back!? I didn't go anywhere! Where have YOU been??? You think it's ok to just leave for months after introducing your new adventure? What kind of blogger are you anyways? You're fired! After you catch up on all the adventures you neglected to tell us about..." Sound about right? Well let me fix the situation... and then maybe you'll un-fire me... de-fire me... take-back-firing-me... You get what I'm saying...

Let's go all the way back to December 2016... even though we're almost at December 2017... December 4th my alarm rudely woke me up at 5:00 in the morning. I rolled over, looked at my clock, shivered, pulled my blankets over my head, and tried to remind myself why I willingly chose to wake myself up that early. (Admittedly, when I first woke up I did all of those things plus throw up...) I had a dislocated rib and was just starting to come down with the stomach flu. So why was I awake in the wee hours of the morning when I was vomiting and had a dislocated rib? Because first chair of the season waits for no man, woman, child, or grumpy/sick/hurting Grace. Scott and I had been planning first chair to be our first adventure for months. Scott had camped in front of Timber chair in freezing temperatures, along with the necessary but not comfortable bed partner of my sit ski, so I could be a trail blazer. And I wouldn't be the Grace that I am if I let a little puke and pain stop me from conquering a new challenge! Puke be damned, my reputation was on the line!

I forced myself to get up, told my mom that I was sorry I was making her get up this early, spent the next hour getting into my under layers (not kidding, that's how long it takes), managed to get down half a piece of toast, threw it up before leaving, grabbed my outerwear, and said a last minute prayer that I wouldn't be sick again while loading the chair. My overactive imagination did what it always does in high-pressure situations... I could picture the newspaper headlines... "First Disabled Girl to Puke on First Chair". Ok Grace, deep breaths... In through the nose... Out through the mouth... I hate admitting that Scott's breathing exercises, which he nags me to do pretty much every time we're together, do actually work... We pulled up to the parking lot near the Timber chair, and the first person I saw was Scott, followed by at least 100 other people in line. Scott was all smiles and energy, which is surprising considering that he slept outside in December, until he saw my face. "How are you?" he said, "Besides green?" At that point I was just trying not to lose my mind... Ok ok, trying not to lose the rest of my mind...

I spent the next half an hour getting my outerwear on and trying not to sound like a basket case for the newspaper reporter. The next thing I knew, Scott was setting me into my sit ski, clipping me in, and whisking me over to the chairlift. I joined Ryan and G-Money, the other two incredible individuals who camped at the hill the night before. This would be the sixteenth first chair for G-Money, and I felt truly honoured to be sharing it with him. As I looked down the line of 100 eager faces waiting for the chairlift to open, I couldn't help feeling overwhelmed and grateful. That moment was the beginning of a new season for each of those individuals. A season full of new memories, adventures, discoveries. The energy of that moment was almost tangible. And there I was, a disabled skier, about to experience a skier's "right of passage". I wasn't disabled in that moment. I was a skier... which means more to me than words can describe. But at the same time, I was disabled, and I was being a trail blazer. It thrilled me that I could make this statement for the adaptive community. Impossible can be just an attitude, not a reality, not a definition, not a label, and never final. I was so proud that I could have that experience if only to show that anything is possible.

"You see this ticket?" said Sir Scott. "It's going on your sit ski, and it's not going to get covered or come off unless it's another first chair ticket." As the time grew nearer to load the first chair, the energy of the crowd stepped up a notch. The cheers, the hoots and hollers, the laughter, it was brilliant! And then the countdown began... "10, 9, 8, 7..." The crowds cheered, the Fernie Alpine Resort banner dropped, we skied onto the platform, chair number 1 whisked us away, and just like that it was over. I looked at the people beside me, heard the excitement behind me, and made a point of capturing the memory in my mind forever. The day I became the first sit skier to get first chair at Fernie Alpine Resort, and the beginning of many more adventures... Come back soon to hear more...

1 comment:

  1. I love this story. You nailed it, helping me understand your moment and your feelings!
    Thank you for your courage and your ability to live with enthusiasm and with such “grace!”����