In 1984 Tom and Pam invited Charlotte and me to go to their place at Beaver Creek Colorado with them along with 4-year-old Taylor and 2-year-old Lauren. We had such a wonderful time, the snow was beautiful and the accommodations superb. We had a never to be forgotten experienc
e up there. Charlotte and I had never done any downhill skiing so we went over for some instructions. The instructor took us out to the “Bunny Slope” and we learned some of the fundamentals. After a couple of hours the instructor said, “Who wants to go up to the higher slopes?” I said sure, Charlotte said no way. (She was always smarter than me.)
Well sir, we got on the lift and away we went, up, up and more up. Finally we got off and the instructor along with about six of us less intelligent ones followed her over to the first slope. She would give us instructions and then push off with, “Watch me and do as I do.” We would push off one by one and ski down to where she would wait for us. We did this on two more short runs and then she skied up to what I would refer to as a precipice. I looked over at the run that seemed to drop off straight down the mountain. Surely she is just pausing here before going to the next run, but no, she was serious. She gave us more instructions regarding how to slow down and then pushed off straight down that “Cliff.”
The rest of the group also took off one at a time. Several took a tumble on the way down but they all arrived at the bottom of the hill eventually. I was the last and I was trying to decide, should I take off my skis and walk back to the lift or should I deliberately attempt suicide. I knew I should have listened to Charlotte. Finally my poor judgment got the best of me and I closed my eyes and pushed off, gently. Down I went trying desperately to slow down. I plowed, I zigged and I zagged. I tried everything but I still continued to pick up speed. Faster and faster I went straight down. I felt like I was strapped to the front of a runaway speeding locomotive. I remember thinking. “Today I am going to die!”
I must have been going 90 miles an hour as I approached the rest of my group standing to the left of the slope. I could see the tips of the treetops from down below peeking over the top of the Cliff. To the right the run continued around the side of the mountain and past some trees. If I went straight ahead over the edge of the mountain they would never find my body. To the right was my only chance, so I leaned into the right turn fully expecting to fall at any moment. I remember telling myself “protect your head; broken arms and legs will mend but not a broken head.”
It seemed like I was almost laying down on my right side as I started into the turn. My right knee was bent and the ski was sort of jumping around. The left ski was just sort of following along. At this point all I was attempting to do was to try my best not to kill myself. Fortunately for me as I rounded the curve the ground flattened out and I was finally able to stop. I was Alive!! I was shaking like an aspen leaf in the wind and my heart was in my throat. I may have been hyperventilating, probably was.
In a few moments the instructor and the rest of the group skied up to where I was standing. I expected everyone to have a good laugh at my high-speed demonstration. The instructor began to talk to the group. “Now I want you to remember the way George was so relaxed and confident. That is what I want you to do, be confident of yourselves- just relax and enjoy your skiing.” I could not believe my ears; I did not say a word for two reasons. First, I was still too terrified to utter a word and second, I was not going to try because my quivering, high falsetto voice would betray the truth of my real condition.