After skiing at quite a few of the mountain resorts in the northeast for a little over a decade, I decided to switch to snowboarding. I was sixteen at the time, a junior in high school. When it came time for the yearly family ski trip, my parents picked Stowe Mountain Resort due to its close proximity to the University of Vermont where my brother Scott goes to school.
After a day of lessons and thanks to all those times I had stolen my brothers’ skateboards, I caught on to the basics of it pretty quickly. By the end of that first day, I had managed to get myself off the bunny hill and successfully make it onto and off of the chairlift (a task in which I still sometimes find myself messing up) and down a more challenging slope.
A year later, the winter of my senior year, when both my brothers were away at school, my parents and I took several weekend trips up north, giving me ample practice time. The more I went the better I got. Rhythm came naturally and the speed quickly followed. When it came time for my brothers to join us, it was the first weekend in March and presumably the last time I would be snowboarding that season. I was extremely eager to show off my improved snowboarding skills to my brothers.
So we ventured up to yet another Vermont mountain resort, Smuggler’s Notch. In keeping with tradition, the five of us took the first trail of the first day together, although also keeping with tradition my brothers made no hesitation fly right past us down the mountain as fast as they could go. Quickly feeling that competitiveness that comes with being the youngest of two older brothers, I too jumped ahead and sped down the mountain faster than I had ever done so in the past. Sure, I may have been a touch out of control but under the high thick neckline of my jacket, a smile held strong across my face. I turned down another trail and spotted a minor jump off to the side. With the false confidence that sort of competitiveness can give a person, I went for it. I took my board up over the bump and shot straight into the air like a cannonball.
And that’s how I ended up shattering my left ankle, breaking my right knee, and picking out my prom dress in a wheelchair.