09 May 2010

An Evening With The Ski Patrol

Saturday night was the annual Mt. Hood Ski Patrol awards banquet. I hadn't "suited up" in a while, and Bex hooked me up with a sweet new red tie to go with the white shirt and dark pinstripe suit. I was feeling pretty dapper, and ready to go hang out and have a nice evening with my fellow patrollers.

The usual drill for me at these things is to get a certificate indicating that I put in a bunch of days, and get some kind of recognition for being a sled coach. The peculiar thing about the last couple years had been getting Honorable Mention for the Hill Patroller of the Year award. I know there are few better skiers on the patrol, but plenty of better overall patrollers. To get that at last year's banquet was baffling, as I'd only put in 12 days between coming back off the shoulder surgery and ending my season early with the knee.

All I'd really managed to do this year was stay healthy and coach some more sled-drivers. I kind of felt like I had a shot at Alpine Coach of the Year, since I'd had to 'fly solo' a few times this year and try to get D team ready for their tests with a more challenging training schedule thanks to a few days where we didn't get to really get much training done. Putting in as many days as I did, I figured on getting that certificate again, and figured to get a mention as one of the guys who'd done Senior S&T, both of which happened.

I was slightly disappointed that I didn't get Alpine Coach of the Year, but the guy who did get it was certainly deserving. He was one of the guys that coached me during my apprentice year, and I knew he was an excellent coach. What caught me totally by surprise was winning the Hill Patroller of the Year award.

A little while prior to that, the patrol president had read out a fairly moving story about the guy for whom the Hill Apprentice of the Year award is named. I got to thinking about the company I was in - I am a past recipient - and I have to admit I got a little choked up at the story. So, I was already a little emotional, and then was quite literally stunned to tears when I was announced as the HPotY. I wasn't bawling, but there were tears, and I couldn't compose myself enough to make a speech, even if I'd been asked to. It was all a little much.

I like to think I have a fairly long ski patrol career ahead of me, so it never really entered my mind that I'd be considered for the award in any of my first few years, much less win it in my 4th. I'm sitting here shaking my head as I type this.

Well, since I couldn't regain my composure and coolly dispense some humorous or heartfelt comments at the time, I'll take the time to thank some people here.

First and foremost, my wife. Without her support and understanding, I wouldn't have had the opportunity in the first place. Of course, I thank my parents for getting me into the sport I love so dearly in the first place, for putting me into lessons and joining the ski club and supporting my racing habit. Naturally, all my race coaches (Brian, Deb, Paul, Cas, Sandy, John, Heidi, et al) deserve tons of credit for turning me into a good skier. My friend and co-worker Jeff deserves all the credit for getting me interested in the patrol, and my coaches from my apprentice year for turning me into a competent patroller. And I can't thank my orthopedic surgeon and physical therapist enough for putting my shoulder and knee back together and putting me back on the hill. I want to thank all the patrollers I've worked with since joining - each of you has taught me something, and you all make it a joy to come up to the mountain 20-odd times a season to work and play.

If I forgot anyone, I'm deeply sorry. I also apologize if this is sappy. :)

Equally surprising was being designated a Hill Captain. I had thought that required some shadowing or on-the-job training, and for some reason I thought there was some minimum level of patrolling experience required (5 years?). I'm definitely honored, for that and for being named the runner-up for the Alpine Coach of the Year. Unbelievable evening.


Ryan said...

Congrats dude!

Todd said...

Congrats! And thanks for writing the blog this year!

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