Freeboarding, it is just like snowboarding. Yeah right! but it kinda is…. so Dave set off down Mt Norquay road at speed….
The lift had been stopped for 25 minuets and patrol was just about to start the evac process. Being 2nd chair from the top the sunny spring, hoodie wearing day, I was just as ampped to be going abseiling off the chair as I was to be shredding the world famous SnowparkNZ. Only when patrol had only just finished untangling all their ropes did the bull wheel start turning again!
WHOOMF! that was the sound of my adrenalin kicking in to overdrive
FUEMMMM! that was the sound of me jumping off the chair before the others
ZIPPPPCLICK CLICK that was the sound of strapping in my back foot whilst still sliding away from the chair.
SnowparkNZ is world famous and as a result can be busy, but after 25 mins of no lift….. if I could beat the crow to drop in…
yup….. MY OWN PERSONAL SNOWPARK(nz)!
And to my utter unadulterated unrelenting joy…it all worked out perfectly…
First off the lift
First to strap in
First to drop in… and… its empty! I approached the first box hearing (maybe i just felt them) the other gaining, I had to be quick, this was a one time deal,” hit everything you can and dont let anyone get ahead of you!”
Tail press:Front board, sweet, good for a first warm up hit,
flat down? Nose press, nose press, love the feeling of nose pressing down features, as your lower body dissapears you feel like the chick off titanic at the front of the boat
CLINNK:SHHHHHHHHINK the sound of a down rail with a big front board locked on it.
—still can feel the others gaining—- go faster— dont look back—-
picnic table sees a half cab on to tail press and then we arrive at the drop in to the jumps…..
This is the normal catch up meet up call it spot, and I instinctively do, stop.
I see the mass exodus from the cafe down to the bottom of the lift, I see people cheering on the chair, I see one lone hiker walking back to my position.. The Jump….The Take off has 2 skier tracks in it, look deep, its a slushy park take off on a spring day, normality level is well, normal. Taking all of this is took about 1/2 a second, just long enough for me to breath in, and drop. Trick was pre selected even before we decided to come up, Switch Back 5 Stale. Having got them on lock the week before the 2 jumps at the end of the rail line were getting hammered with “Back to Back Back 5s”.
Still I have not looked back, their could have been a bloody blood bath behind me, war could well have broken out and I would not know. I drop in and do not speed check, I want to send it deep.
Seeing the slush i set up so as to take the skiers like in, to avoid slush, I wind up and at the lip, release…
“FUCK“-is the sound of it all going wrong.
People say time slows down, I think it just seems that way.
As I was leaving the take off my tail has tapped the up hill of the skier track, it being deeper / and or / slushier that it looked. I guess 25mins from 12:30 has warmed it up with no traffic to show how soft it got.
being in the air, with no resistance, weightless, that small tail tap did 2 (or more) things,
1 it stopped ALL my horizontal rotation. Dead. My switch back 5 was at best, going to be a switch Zero.
2 it gave me a very slight impetus of vertical rotation.
This very slight vertical force had some other interesting effects, the biggest one being it was slowly sending my board up, and with my bellybutton being an approximate pivot point, my head and upper body downward.
looking at the knuckle sail beneath me (was it dropping away also?) looking at the landing seeming to go on forever… I did wonder
“How am I going to ride out of this one?” it was at about this point that I realized I had passed the peak of my parabola and all too soon my need and want to be back on snow was replace by an over whelming urge for wings or a few minuets more of airtime to compose myself. By now I was 45′ with my head below my feet.
WHACK-SNAP-CRACK-POP-THUMP was the sounds my body made as it hit the snow. I bounced. I did not slide down the landing like normal bails from jumps, I was somewhat towards the flatter part, ie the bottom of the landing. As the bounce turned into the 2nd landing I was still thinking of the hordes of riders who must have been right behind me, possible hitting the jump, so as I was making noises like a, “insert something like HHHHHHHHHHHUHUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH” with body in spasm I shuffled to the side. “why was i not wearing the helmet, why is my shoulder hurting more thanmy head? what is that massive lump between my neck and shoulder? I have broken my collar bone myseasonisovermyseasonisovermyseasonisover-fuck.”
The pain was not that bad for the first 5 minuets.I could however see my first season as freelance videographer rushing, retreating, retiring away from me. In one moment of realization I could see it was gone.
Ben was on scene real quick as he was just behind me, “are u sure you’ve broken it?” he asked, i put his hand on, hem, the lump and he said, “yeah its broken, patrol is on the way,”
So that is how my season ended. My first season ending injury in 9 seasons. It just so happedn to be the season I had been dreaming of. Getting paid to film the sport that has become my life, in a country I now call home, on mountains that are my back yard, I was king, my own king. I had worked hard to get there and payed hard also.
I was having the best day ever. If I had my time over, I would still have gone up that day, I would still have gone Switch Back 5 off that jump. I would do it all again in a heart beat. Because just like when time slows down as your failing, it slows down as your spinning, for an oh so brief moment, your suspended, tucked up, grabbing your board, pulling it round, boning the front leg, and it is all worth it. Spot the landing, and… touch down!
and that feeling, the STOMP! the moment your riding out, is the best feeling, ever.