Being a coach at Windells I get to enjoy skiing year round in the best parks in the world. I get to travel across the country with my students from Windells Academy all winter long. When people ask me what I do, they tell me “you are living the life.” I truly am and Im grateful everyday that I have a job that I enjoy. I put all my focus and energy into giving back to the sport that has brought me so much fulfillment by sharing my knowledge with a younger generation of skiers.
This summer was different from the past three summer season because I accepted the highly notorious position as Windells Camp Head Ski Coach. The past season’s I had worked with Windells Academy students on hill while the other coaches would work with the bunches of campers flying out for one week at a time. If I was to say I wasn’t nervous about this new responsibility I would be lying, but I was confident that I could do a great job.
Summer time on Mt Hood has always been my highlight for the year. I get to ski with some of my favorite people and Mt Hood fills up with tons of motivated skiers that are not here durning the winter months. Typically summer gets off to slow start when the weather takes a couple weeks to turn into nothing but bluebird skies. This season we got extremely nice weather early and smiles were running ear to ear throughout the Windells Staff. Life couldn’t get much better, but this was soon to change for me.
We had three session down with little to no issues, the kids were learning tricks, the coaches were killing it in the session edit and Life was good. Three days into session 4 something catastrophically started going wrong. Over the radio I heard one skier get hurt. Five minutes later another skier, and then another. As I waited for ski patrol to arrive, I noticed in the High Cascade lane a terrible fall on their big jump that detoured one of our ski patrollers that was dispatched to one of our injured campers. Something was not right, 4 kids we’re hurt in less than 20 mins and I was the next one to get hurt. On July 11th eight people were pulled off the hill in a hour and half time frame, and I was one. Four ambulances were dispatched the same day.
When I got hurt I was traveling down the lane to respond to one of the Windells campers that got injured. I was moving fast and rolled over a knuckle of our medium sized jump. When I got to the peak of the knuckle I could instantly see that I was heading directly into a boulder the size of a dog house. I hammered on my edges and tried to escape running into the rock with my chest. I was lucky enough get my body out of harms way but clipped my left leg which flipped me over violently onto my back. That week had been extremely warm, and the snow had been melting at rapid rates. The day before my accident we had experienced 5 feet of snow melt. I remember the diggers having to re dig our rails twice in one day.
Since I went full speed into a rock with my leg, I broke my femur in two and was rushed to the hospital. The following day I went under the knife and into reconstructive surgery. The doctors inserted a metal rode the same size of my entire femur and pinned it in the top and bottom with four screws. I spent the next 6 days in a hospital bed completely in awe as to how this all unfolded. People die from this injury every year and all I could think was how lucky I was to still be alive.
My list of injuries from skiing is long as most freeride skiers stack up injuries, but this was a new kind of injury that I feared could change my life. I also had 18 coaches working for me at the same time and couldn’t do anything but sit still in my bed and hope that things would turn around for me. I took the remainder of the summer off from work and focused on how to get back to my skis. When I saw my doctor I asked him when I could ski again. I told him when I was hoping to get back on skis and he told me that it was very possible. Recovering from a broken femur is a 6 to 12 month process. I experienced a compound fracture which means the bone came through the muscle and skin. Believe it or not I will be skiing by December and able to continue coaching for Windells Academy this winter. I will be rehabbing in the fall and will have to keep my feet on the ground for most of the season. I consider myself to be one of the luckiest skiers to have such amazing people to surround me, and encourage me to keep moving forward with my career. I feared that I would have to let go of skiing for the next year, but now I know i will make a full recovery in time for the snow fall. I am forever grateful to those that went through this process with me and have a new perspective on life. I am also thankful to the Timberline ski patrollers that are the by far some of the best patrollers in the World. Sitting in my recliner for 2 months is just a small sacrifice to be able to live to ski another day.