Mindful of my dear parental figures, I decided to keep my early-day accidents on the down low, at least when it came to international conversation. Receiving the nick-name ‘Danger Phil’ after only four days of snowboarding does, however, tell its own story. When I first arrived in the Alps there was an ongoing heavy snowfall and this is undoubtedly what saved me from a serious injury on Day 2 of my season.
While snowboarding down a regular – if extremely powdery – red run I contrived to fly off the edge of a cliff while attempting to come to a stop. After a drop of several meters and more than a few unintentional rotations I came to a halt half buried in powder and with my hat annoyingly out of reach. It was then that I realised how difficult it is to escape from the clutches of deep snow once it has you in its grip, especially with a snowboard attached to your feet. I also realised that the jagged rocks on either side of my landing point could have ended my winter season horribly early.
With the risk of an avalanche weighing heavily on my and my new work colleagues’ minds I struggled down onto the piste physically indifferent, but mentally. . . well mentally pretty indifferent too, what can I say, I’m an idiot. Before this I had first struggled up the avalanchy (definitely a word) slope to retrieve my hat so I can’t have been that concerned. That stupid? Yes. That concerned? Nada.
Two days later I wasn’t as lucky and was quite concerned.
Helmets are cool. This is a fact that you, and anyone you know who skis or snowboards, should be 100% supportive of. They are also completely necessary, especially for a boarder.
I don’t remember what happened – sorry again relatives – but from what I’m told I hit a top edge on my board (my board got caught on some harder snow) and I head-butted the floor at some speed. Having studied the effects of head trauma in Psychology what I do remember is being very interested and more than a little unnerved by my abrupt lack of memory as to what day it was, why I was here, who the people around me were, and why I suddenly couldn’t remember any of those things.
After I’d gathered my bearings and had been told multiple times what day of the week it was – I was obsessed with this particular void of knowledge – I then made my way down the mountain to the Medical Centre in Méribel where my concussion was validated and I became aware of the fact that my face was now reminiscent of that Orc from Lord of the Rings. To make matters worse my brand new goggles were also scratched spectacularly upon impact; a fact that I think made me more upset than the broken face at the time.
No exaggeration whatsoever.
For the next few days every person I met tried their best not to react with some degree of horror at the state of my normally stunning visage, some even succeeded. Unsurprisingly, I was given a couple of night shifts off after that particular mishap, I can’t think why.
Danger Phil went on to sprain both his shoulders at least once, deeply cut his leg twice – once needing stitches that I somehow failed to get using my brilliant French linguistic skills – fall off a table, nearly get in a bar brawl over a game of pool and commit to having some of the most explosive crashes in seasonnaire history, specialising in the accidental forward roll through powder. He also managed to break his bindings.
Oh, and snap his snowboard.
Honestly, that tree wasn’t looking where it was going. It was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, could have happened to anyone. The completely unapologetic shrub of a tree obviously didn’t care for having a snowboard wedged between its two trunks and took appropriate action. Note: a board snapping makes one hell of a crunching sound. It’s a good thing Hotel staff here get paid more than Chalet hosts otherwise the medical and equipment bills would have been even more dear.
Just a little scratch on my two month old beautiful board
A glass bottle incident
Despite these unfortunate events in my time here there are two massively redeeming factors:
- I failed* to break any bones or cause permanent damage to myself
- I met someone who’s had similar luck in the injury department, if not worse
*currently (fingers crossed)
Danger Dan, as I call him, has a scar on his back that makes my minor 4 stitch-worth tear seem like a paper cut. His ski came off and he somehow managed to gorge himself on it. We’re talking the kind of wound that a Viking would have been proud of, or died of, either or. Naturally his friends did the sporting thing and said it was fine, allowing him to make his way to the doctors with half his back open. He’s also managed some lesser injuries too so together we make quite the safety advertisement. We haven’t skied together yet which is probably for the best for all involved.
Shortly after I took a blow to the head I was advised – with some persistence – that maybe, just maybe, it was time to use some of my hard earned cash on a helmet. I acquiesced without a complaint. This was a good decision. From the tumbles I took from that moment onwards I would have at least doubled my concussion tally. Well done friends, wise words indeed.
Someone who can actually backflip – I’ll leave that trick for now
This hasn’t been pleasant reading for my mum and dad, for which I can only apologise. I’ll make it up to you both by not breaking anything until I see you next.
[Danger Phil leaves, Boringly Safe Phil enters]