Carnage and cuts
By Jamie BateThat collective “Arrrrggggggggghhhhhhh!!!!!” you may have heard echoing off our mountain peaks Tuesday wasn’t my wife reacting to my new hair cut (yes, the deed is done). Rather, it was the sound of pain.At least that’s what I would assume, as the last time I checked, leg fractures and head injuries were painful. In a span of little more than an hour Tuesday, four or five calls came across our newsroom radio scanner reporting fractures and other assorted carnage from some of the resorts up on Donner Summit, Squaw and Northstar.Stop! As I write this on Wednesday another fracture call over at Squaw has come in.Isn’t skiing and snowboarding supposed to be fun? According to the Wilderness Medical Society, beginner skiers and riders suffer almost three times more injuries than the more experienced participants. In other words, that would be me. Well, that would be me if I ever got out on the slopes. According to the WMS Web site, way back in the 1999-2000 season, “first aid data from one large North Tahoe ski resort recorded its ski injury rate as 3.2/1000 and the snowboarder injury rate as 12.7/1000.” Meanwhile, WMS says, Tahoe Forest Hospital “documented five snowboarders injured for every one skier.”Whether those numbers still hold I’m not sure, but from the activity that comes in over the scanner, it sure sounds like it.Oh wait! What’s that? A hip fracture up at Boreal. I am not kidding folks, in the span of time it took me to write those last four short paragraphs another emergency call has come in.Meanwhile, the WMS site tells of a study that documented 49 percent of injured snowboarders were beginners versus 18 percent of beginner skiers. “First-time snowboarders sustain a significantly higher incidence of emergent injuries (such as fracture, concussion, dislocation, lost teeth) necessitating immediate intervention.”Now, I don’t have a clue what an “emergent” injury is, although a bone emerging through skin comes to mind. I can, however, relate to lost teeth. But that’s a story for another time.So as I sit here at the Sierra Sun, my colleagues, who all have vastly more experience on the slopes than me, are listening to the calls of broken bodies being reported and shake their heads and mutter disparaging remarks about “gapers from the Bay Area” and such. Since I keep mispronouncing “gapers” so it comes out sounding like “gappers,” like Immigrant Gap, or the clothing store, I probably qualify as one, especially when I’m out on the slopes in my full-on red snowboard outfit (hey, I got it for free). At least you’ll see my red streak hurtling toward you before I inflict some sort of gruesome emergent injury on your body.Hold it! Two concussions just reported at Northstar. No joke. And you can’t blame me because I don’t have my red suit on. •••Just an update on my hair issues. The hair is cut. Or probably more accurate descriptions would be sheared, buzzed or clipped. Yes, thanks to Heather down at Wish Salon in Gateway, my wall-to-wall shag is now more like a stylish Berber rug.And while Annette, my significant other, appreciates a fine floor covering, she wasn’t too thrilled with my Berber-like buzz.”At least it’s not an arm or a leg,” she noted dryly. “It’ll grow back.”If I have it cut so drastically again in the future, she might knock out a few of my teeth. But if that happens in winter, I can always say I lost them while snowboarding.•••Ouch! Yep, that was the scanner; injury over in Squaw Valley. I’m not making this stuff up. This time a sled is involved. I wonder if they keep statistics for those?•••Happy holidays and stay safe out there! Jamie Bate is the editor of the Sierra Sun. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.