Ski Day 27: Done for the Season

Last Friday after I’d skied six days in a row, I got greedy and went for a seventh. I already had a great week with three powder days in that six day romp: powder at Gore on 2/25, powder at Mad River Glen on 2/26 and powder at Cannon on March 1st.

Gore Mtn Feb 25 2012

I spent four of those ski days in New Hampshire at the blogger’s summit skiing Cannon/Mittersill, Attitash, Wildcat and the Sherbie on Mount Washington. We couldn’t have had better luck, with a week picked months in advance, especially when you consider the low snowfall totals recorded this year.

In New York, it snowed overnight Wednesday into Thursday, and from what I’d heard the skiing was as good at Gore as it has been all season. On Thursday at Cannon, I skied in that same storm. After a long day, I opted to drive back to our place in NY instead of driving the longer distance back to the flatlands. The clincher for skiing Friday was that Gore was running two lifts that didn’t spin on Thursday — fresh tracks two days after the storm.

Mad River Glen Feb 26 2012

From one perspective, it made total sense. I’d stay overnight in my own home, ten minutes from my favorite mountain, where I have a pass, to ski a powder day. But from another viewpoint, it was stupid. I was tired from skiing, blogging, and travel and I was having a tough time focusing.

Everyone was after that fresh snow on the terrain served by those two lifts on Burnt Ridge and down at the Ski Bowl. Instead of doing the convenient thing — parking at the Bowl — I arrived at the Gore base area early, parked upfront, had breakfast, and headed to Burnt Ridge. On the first lift ride up the Ridge, I debated whether to go into the trees or warm-up on Sagamore.

Mittersill Mar 1 2012

I chose the trail. It was groomed underneath of foot of largely untracked snow. I imagined the skiing would be easy but I found turning to be hard work, and wished I’d elected to start in the trees. Halfway down Sagamore I caught an edge, fell and did some damage to my left leg. It took 90 minutes to get myself off the mountain and into my car headed home.

On the ride home, my thoughts were focused inward on the remainder of my season. Was I done? My left leg was tender, but I wanted to evaluate the next morning. I saw my GP the next day and she diagnosed a pulled or torn hamstring, but she was vague about the recovery time. “You’ll know if you are ready to ski.” I wanted some parameters. What would a normal recovery period be?

Sagamore on Burnt Ridge

On Tuesday I saw a great orthopedic doc who concurred with the diagnosis and told me I needed 6-8 weeks to recover. He told me that hamstrings are prone to re-injury, especially if they’re used strenuously before they are fully healed.

So I am done for the season. I guess I knew it, but I needed someone to tell me. While it’s certainly possible that I could ski Tux this year, I don’t think it makes sense. There’s no question that I’m down about it. But I’ve also determined that this is should be a turning point for me.

Echo Entrance to the Cirque Glade

I’ve secretly hoped throughout my lift-served skiing career (12 years) that before this moment came, a true, step-in, DIN releasable telebinding would come to market. From what I’ve read, the NTN binding is not the solution.

A releasable binding might have made the difference with this injury. I’m not sure about this because it was a fairly “gentle” fall, and I don’t really have a sense of how rigid DNS settings are, or even what my own setting would be, but it is possible. It’s also possible that if I’d skied even half the week on alpine gear, I wouldn’t have been as tired. I’m looking to move to a safer setup.

Next season I’m going to take lessons and approach them at whatever level my instructor thinks is appropriate. I need to learn to position and move my hands to stay in balance, forward and headed down the fall line. Until I learn to do that, I have no business skiing with the experts who are often my partners. I’ve been complacent, and I have to step up my game. Thanks to MattChuck for helping me see this more clearly.

When I look at that picture of the Echo entrance to the Cirque Glade, I can still hear, what you can’t see — hoots and hollers from gleeful skiers grabbing tracks. I don’t want to miss that again.

33 comments on “Ski Day 27: Done for the Season

  1. That’s a bummer but given the way this season has been its the best one to miss part of. My knees get sore every season after about 40-50 days. I’m at 47 days now and things are a little creaky. Trying to nurse it to the end.

    If you want to take a alpine lesson next year come up to WF and I’ll do it in my free time for you – gratis.

  2. Tough but wise decision, Harv. I went through a similar situation prior to my knee surgery, knowing that while I could ski, the risk of making things worse was far too great. Sometimes it is best to just stop and heal.

    See you on the slopes next season. Meanwhile, get on that bike as soon as possible.

  3. All things considered its not as bad as needing the knife. seems you have reevaluated your ability and going to make strides to improve. wise decision.

  4. Come to the darkside Harv, lock and load that heel and you will see a revelation in your tele skiing as well! Take it easy and get that leg good and strong for a great season next year!

  5. Harvey, I’m extremely sad to hear this news, your injury hurts all of us a little bit who really got to enjoy and look forward to both riding lifts with you, and reading your TR’s every week. Your passion for skiing is unrivaled, and I’m sure you will be back and better than ever.

    I wouldn’t want to argue with the docs and what they say does make sense. My hamstrings are messed up and get reinjured with some frequency, but while they’re usually ski ready in a day or two after injury whereas hiking really beats them up worse and leaves me almost crippled sometimes for up to a week. That is to say that it’s a complex muscle group and sometimes the injuries are related to specific activities.

    I’m sure that you have access to better health care info than I could provide, but long term after you heal up I would suggest a plan with light biking or jogging specifically to strengthen that muscle group. It’s when I stop using my legs for sports for periods of time that I really begin to have problems.

    On the bright side, this will heal and is not a permanent derailing injury, just something you'll need to be aware of and tend, and you’;re always welcome to come hiking with me this summer or spring to ease into things and test it out a bit.

    I’m wishing you all the best for a quick recovery.

  6. Sorry to hear that. I ski a set of Voile 3 pin CRB (releasable) bindings. They’re not step in, but don’t take too long to get into. They’ve released on me a few times, so I know they work in some falls. Unfortunately, it seems they’ve been discontinued by Voile.

  7. Lastly, in the grand scheme of safety regarding alpine vs. tele it does appear that tele is far safer with about half the injury rate of alpine. In both cases you are most concerned with expensive and painful issues like an ACL tear, but even with releasable bindings those happen more in alpine.

  8. Jason and I are already designing a twice-weekly mountain biking regimen for Harv — whether he likes it or not.

  9. Sorry to hear you’re done for the season, at least you went out with a bang. I know where you’re coming from skiing multiple full days in a row. I skied six of seven, Platty, MRG, and Sugarbush. I missed out on Sunday, the day you were at MRG. I was at Whiteface and they were experiencing wind holds. Actually drove by MRG at three o’clock, talk about salt in the wound. Though it broke my heart to not ski on one of, if not the best, ski day of the year, I think that day of rest helped me to enjoy the rest of my ski vacation. Good luck on a full recovery, and thanks for all your efforts in making this a fun place to hang out.

  10. All I have to say is that 2012 sucks!!! Worst season in a long time for myself…health issues suck. I’ve personally have given up on racing for the season in hopes that I get back to 100%. I looked okay skiing, but I know I wasn’t. The only I felt good was at Cannon.

    Take care and hope to ski you next season.

  11. Dont worry Harv, everyone’s season will be over soon, raining like cats and dogs here next week every day into the 50’s.

  12. Harvey, you are an excellent skier. Certainly everyone can be critical of their own skiing, but you are pretty solid, especially for someone who has only skied 12 years! The skiing is just about over. You aren’t missing much. Do your PT and heal up that hammy. Enjoy the non-skiing months. Next winter will be much more bountiful.

  13. I’m sorry to hear that, at least the season is almost over and you'll be back at it next winter! Hope you recover quickly.

  14. Sorry to hear. Hey, at least it’s a muscle thing instead of the dreaded knee disaster, or even anything that required a knife (ewwwww…). At least you got what may be the best skiing in a very poor year right up to the end. Unless it snows again, I’m starting on my road biking early. After Tahoe in a week and a half. Ha, like that’s any better.

  15. Get well quickly Harv! Depending on how you feel later, maybe you should go for a Tux trip in late April.

  16. Sorry to hear it Harv. Don’t go lockin your heel down over it though!!!!

    In the big picture, those 6-8 weeks are a fairly small sacrifice. You only have two legs. Take care of them.

  17. So sorry to hear this news. At least it happened at the end of your big ski week and not the beginning. As so many have said, if ever there was a season to have to call it quits early this has been it. Here’s wishing you a very speedy and full recovery!!! Come back next season stronger than ever!

  18. Harv, sorry to hear about your injury. If you’re looking for a physical therapist, send me an email, I have one that I’ve used all too often that is very good.

  19. Harv: I’ll add my name to the 21 people above disheartened to hear that you are done for the year. My Northeastern ski experiences are lived vicariously through people like you, Mad Pat Ski, and others, and when I hear one of you is down, it’s sad! At least you picked the best possible year to call it quits early. The forecast through St Pattys day looks dismal.

    I have been quiet on the boards lately due to work load, and the fact that my limited ski season here down south has been horrible: the worst winter in 20 years for Mid Atlantic skiing. 2 months of mud, ice, and grass. At least you got to finally experience my second favorite area, MRG. Enjoyed the TR. Get well soon.

    Wishing you an epic season next year!

  20. Okay, first of all, the season’s not over. I know there’ll be a Tux May trip, and I hope you’ll be part of it. Second of all, it’s not the hand flailing that’s the cause of the injury. It’s just that hand flailing is a wildly inefficient way to ski, and you’d be better served to calm down the upper body and turn the energy that you were using into productive energy in your legs.

    I second James’ idea of the twice weekly mountain bike regimen. I hear there’s some good trails down there, and working the quads is definitely a good way to strengthen all the muscles in that area (especially if you develop the advanced mtb technique of pulling the upstroke with clipless pedals).

    You’ll be fine by May, Harv. Looking forward to skiing with you again… This year…

  21. Sorry to hear about your injury. I’ll add to the rehab advice. after taking time off, look into norwegian eccentric hamstring exercises and the FIFA 11 which consists of 10 exercises ( the 11th is good sportsmanship ). Do active/dynamic stretching. do not overstretch as this weakens the muscle. do not static stretch. ease your way into biking, running, etc. i'm a PT and a multi-sport athlete. find a PT who can guide your recovery. remember, athletes are their own worst enemy. they often try to do too much, too soon. be patient.

  22. Sorry about your injury…but it’s always better to hold off now to ski more days later!! Best of luck with the rehab.
    🙂

  23. Sorry to hear that you’re out for the season. At least you won’t be missing that much…

  24. Wow.

    @CPTele – The Voile CRB was a really creative idea that never got pushed to it potential. I used it on Zelda’s skis back when she tele’d and set the “DIN” myself. It actually worked pretty well, but some crucial parts were very cheap plastic. It did what the 7tm and the NTN(?) don’t do – released in all directions.

    Interesting that so many seem to be recommending an exercise bike for a hamstring. (Opinion frk?) We have a pretty nice one in our basement that I do use, if not often enough. Advice from my ortho was pretty non-committal. He said: call me in 3-4 weeks, we’ll see how you are doing and decide on PT at that time. He also said very light stretching was ok in 2 weeks and he reiterated the idea that athletes tend to push it and are their own worst enemy.

    @All – thanks so much for the support – it’s hard to express how much these comments mean to me without sounding emotional. I really wrote this blog post to help me process and accept it all. I knew that I should probably wait a month before making any crazy decisions, but I just couldn’t stop myself from posting – it really helped me get out of a funk.

    Harvey Road is all kinds of things now, but by a thread (LOL) it still hangs on as “my blog.” I can see how someone might think this post is too personal for NYSB, but HR is still my only real writing outlet. Thanks for the forbearance in that regard.

    One last thing: It’s incredibly weird sitting down on a Sunday night in season, with no pictures to download and no TR to post. The corn harvest – the most reliable skiing of the year – is in full bloom! I’m going to ask for some forgiveness in advance. I’m kinda blogged out and this post is going to sit at the top of NYSkiBlog for a few more days. I knew that was true when I wrote it, so I tried to make it as upbeat as I could, all things considered. Thanks again to all – I really mean it.

  25. Harv, just ask your doc for a script for PT now. I think you should start your PT ASAP. Maybe frk can comment on this. Why wait when you can be getting back on track sooner than later. A good PT will start you on your recovery right away, and who knows, maybe you’ll get to Tux this year.

  26. Crushing. I am so sorry. But also appreciate your honesty in what you wrote. Lessons for all. At least me, both in sympathy (husband has a hamstring injury) and in listening to oneself and the pace one (me) should ski at.

  27. Multiple days is a blast but can wear you out. Every lift ticket says skiing is dangerous, I think generally it is not but when you fall and can’t get up smiling you have to question the sanity of what we do. It happened at the end of the season imagine it happened a month ago that would be much harder to take. Get well because another season is around the corner!

  28. The flesh is occasionally weak, but the spirit is always willing among our kind:-) Thanks for the great stokage this winter.

  29. Harv, I agree with Powderqueen above. You want to get a physical therapy prescription and find a good physical therapist. One that can find the root cause of the injury. This is a much better option than resting it for 6 weeks. Doing the exercises is tedious, but in the end you’ll come back just fine. Hoping you recover quick.

  30. Harv, a couple of weeks off is a good idea. the injury probably happened due to fatigue from multiple days of skiing with maybe an underlying cause of hip and/or hamstring weakness. a PT can assess this. eccentric strengthening, dynamic balance and proprioceptive activities, core strengthening, and overall conditioning will probably be the focus of your therapy. mild stretching at some point will be performed once the hamstring heals. if you stretch too soon or too vigorously, you will tear the newly healed tissue setting up a vicious cycle. good luck. feel free to contact me for advice thru the rehab process.

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