Falling Among the Stars

“Aaron . . . who?” I asked when I called to find out the next time I could ski at Radar Lake.  “Aaron Larkin, the men’s slalom skier who just took the world’s title, will be up at Radar this week” was the reply on the other line.  “Oh cool,” but what I was actually thinking was “Would I still be able to ski?”

Aaron Larkin is the first New Zealand men’s slalom skier to win the Diablo Shore Title and is one the professional skiers sponsored by RADAR skies.  Now, you have to understand with working with April Coble, who is sponsored by HO water sports, I was surrounded by HO gear and only heard about other athletes sponsored by HO. Being new to the competitive aspect of this sport, I am still learning about professional athletes.  Therefore, hearing the news of Aaron Larkin coming to Radar, I was not shocked or surprised.  All I cared about was whether I would be able to ski.  To my fortune, I was able to ski both days he was at Radar.

Being a novice and wanting to impress a professional athlete, I started skiing the course and making it harder than it should be.  I was running my passes and he was giving me good tips to work on for the next pass.  Once I was in my 34 mph pass, feeling late coming out of 5-ball (buoy), I started to pull to early, and got a huge lean lock.  Lean lock is basically when the skier is stuck in the power position. Think as if you are playing tug of war and you pull so hard you fall back.  Well when playing tug of war with the 330-horse powerboat, the boat wins.  Yet, being on the water and creating so much speed from this position instead of falling you continue to ski and continue to ski is what I did.  As I came flying across the wake I knew I was in trouble.  Letting go of the handle, I felt as if I was on a rocket out of control going 50 mph straight to the shoreline. Millions of thoughts rushed through my head on how to stop. Before I could even choose one, I crashed into the shoreline. In a matter of seconds, I went from skiing in the middle of the lake to skidding on dry land.  I was shocked, dazed, stunned sitting on dry ground feeling as if I just projected away from a car crash.

Recomposing myself, as I took my ski off and walked back into the water.  Ignoring the people in the boat telling me I need to take a break from skiing, I dunked myself underwater and realized I was fine.  Nothing was broken, no sprain or strains, only little abrasions on my legs.  All I was thinking about was skiing again.  As I got on the back of the boat, I started to get ready to ski again.  Putting on the ski, I realized there was still some gravel in my bindings from the fall. When crashing into the shoreline apparently, I used the ski as a brake and did a baseball slide. Instead of sliding to base, I slid into the gravel, hence the gravel in the bindings.  This did not stop me nor did I let the pro Aaron Larkin stop me from skiing again.  I needed to prove I am a good skier.  Still standing on the back of the boat listening to the advice from Aaron, I realize my leg was covered in blood from an open wound on my knee. Quickly, I jumped into the water before Aaron could tell me I shouldn’t ski.  Making my 34 mph pass easily, I realized the mistakes I was making and I knew next set would be better.

Coming back the next day to Radar, I was eager to get back on the water to learn more from Aaron and prove the crash would not affect my skiing. Focused on applying the new tips Aaron gave me from the day before, I ignored the state of my body.  Even though I didn’t sustain major injuries, my body was still recovering from the shock of crashing.  Still, I wanted to learn how to improve as a skier. After another ski set with Aaron and skiing my average, I realized the importance of learning to work with the power of the boat versus against it. I took away many lessons from Aaron on skiing these past two days, but the main lesson is “Get back on the horse.”

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