Thursday, March 19, 2009

I Have Never Wanted to Ski

I can't say I knew her work all that well. But I know of her mother and her husband and feel deeply for them in their hour of grief.

Of course I am talking about the late Natasha Richardson and the strange, tragic way she came to her end on a beginner's ski slope in Quebec. Apparently she fell, hopped up, joked about it, went back to the hotel and soon collapsed and died. They are calling it blunt force trauma.

It seems she was doing little of much danger on the slope, but it made me think of the one time I allowed myself to be talked into skiing--and the sense I had of the insane danger into which I was putting myself.

Thinking back, I cannot believe I did it. I will not do it again. I flew down the slope at speed, with no knowledge of how to steer, my only hope of stopping to fall awkwardly in a snow bank and hope for the best. I came away uninjured. But at any moment I might have crashed into a tree at probably thirty or forty miles an hour (just like a car wreck) with no protection whatever. Late in the day, I saw what appeared to be an experienced skier--or at least someone who dressed like one--being taken off the slope wrapped tightly into a stretcher.

Why do people want to do this? I suppose it's exhilarating to conquer the slope, a dashing figure in fancy, specialized gear. I'm not making fun of it. I just don't identify.

Skiing is really, really dangerous. I would not want my kids to do it (they don't). I would not want my wife to do it (she doesn't).

Goodbye, Natasha. I wish you had not skied.