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Transplant Athlete
Friday, January 18, 2008
  Call Of The Wild

When I was in 4th Grade, the Principal of my school had an information session for people who wanted to learn to ski. Now, imagine you're that age and watching a movie set in the biggest, most beautiful mountains you've ever seen. There seemed to be just 3 colors, Blue Skies, White Snow, and Black rocks. The skiers were flying down the mountain, jumping off huge cliffs and landing in deep powder (sometimes with a twist or a flip thrown in). SIGN ME UP!
I'm guessing now that it was a Warren Miller film, but at the time it stoked my imagination and probably was the catalyst for my love of Skiing, kayaking, climbing, and ultracycling, so-called "extreme sports" (at least they were back then).

Vernon Valley was a bit of a let down after the movie. The bunny slope had about 5 feet of rise and used a tow rope to get to the other end. I think I went skiing 10 times that year and took lessons each time. We'd leave school in a smelly diesel school bus, and chug up to Vernon Valley, take a lesson, then stop for dinner, and then back out to ski under the lights and snow guns. Dinner was like the scene from The Breakfast Club, where Emilio Estevez pulls out the grocery bag and starts unloading the food for his lunch. Sandwich after Sandwich, huge bag of potato chips, soda, cookies, and then a piece of fruit. My parents must have gone broke feeding me during ski trips. When I got to the point where I could parallel ski, I wasn't happy unless I was taking the fastest line down the mountain and if I didn't fall once in awhile I wasn't going fast enough. I used to think there was nothing like getting your bell rung at top speed. Nobody was wearing helmets.

I took Q for her first ski lesson on Wednesday at Ski Liberty in PA. She was amazing. They use a conveyor belt now instead of a tow rope and she was able to go much faster than I ever was when I was learning. Since we went mid-week in the early season, Q was the only one there, so she got a private lesson. She's got the snow plow down, and she can turn, but she can't link turns yet. In the second half of her lesson, the instructor lead her over to the chairlift and I got real emotional. My baby was going on the chairlift for the first time.

The instructor said she was "the most athletic 5 yo he's ever taught." After her lesson, I supervised her for about an hour, then she called it quits for the day. She was starving, very tired, and hooked.

Nearly everyone on the mountain and around the lodge was wearing a helmet, from the little kids to the greybeards.

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I've gone through kidney failure twice. The first time in 2000, my mother donated a kidney; and again in 2008, I'm on dialysis waiting for a breakthrough in immuno-suppression medicines before seeking a new kidney.

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