by Randy H. Milgrom
Photography by Bob Garypie and
Six athletes have entered this morningís
competition in the extreme sport of snowboarding. Of course
I think itís extreme Ė Iíve spent most of this week treading
unsteadily on foot, looking down at my shoes. When it hasnít
been possible for me to walk from one place to another to
cover an event, Iíve hitched a ride inside the front bucket
of a mammoth snow-grooming tractor.
So why is such an utter non-skier covering these events?
Just donít ask me to answer that question in French.
But here I come, anyway Ė up the mountainside in a tram:
I canít ski, I canít speak the language, and now, suddenly,
I realize Iíve forgotten the only two things that have been
a comfort to me Ė my pen and my notepad.
I march off the tram rehearsing a few French phrases in
my head, and after a false start or two I somehow manage to
find myself standing outside with a pencil and a bunch of
napkins from the restaurant cashier. The Groomer Shuttle is
not running this morning, though, so even if I could walk
down (an iffy proposition), Iíd have no way of getting back
up. So here I stand, still within view of the tram, writing
notes on napkins.
A little bit of snow fell overnight Ė which even I know
is a good thing for skiing conditions Ė and just the slightest
gentle touch of light snow begins anew as I lean out to look
into the various skiing alleyways below. I notice a few snowboarders,
who after securing their heavy boots into their bindings,
just buckle up and begin their whooshing descent. These mostly
younger men glide down effortlessly, leaning ever so slightly
as they enjoy gravityís pull Ė hands in pockets, nearly yawning.
One guy lights a match, then his cigarette, and then offers
a bored exhalation of smoke in my direction as he departs.
Iím so out of my element on this mountaintop, it somehow
seems fitting that Iím up way here, while the snowboarders
are way down there. I breathe in and out, mulling this thought,
and enjoying the view. The journalist Reg Green soon happens
by, and for a long while we stare down toward the spot where
we think the competition is taking place and speak idly about
different topics Ė but almost always we come back to the subject
of writing. We are two writers looking down upon a changing
world that now seems less interested in words, and more interested
in sights and sounds.
Though I donít ski, and I canít communicate with many of
the athletes, Iíve done what I can this week.
And Iíve been inspired, once again, by the Transplant Games
athletes, who do not take their second chances at life lightly.