- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
The Youngster—A little local guy of seven became the media darling. He was in all the television footage, and his confident proclamations that he was after the world record made him everyone's favorite. His criticism of my skiing style—so what if my skis weren't perfectly parallel—struck me as a bit too precocious. After 10 well-skied hours, it was time for the little one to go to bed.
The Oldster—A fellow who admitted to 45 years claimed he ran an average of four miles a day. He was an intelligent skier, and one of the eight left after 24 hours. He was the upper-middle-class fitness boom incarnate.
The General—This bluff old guy knew everything there was to know about what criteria the Guinness people insisted upon in granting a record. He kept the skiers on their toes and on the mountain for the necessary intervals.
The Workers—As hardy as the skiers, they came from surrounding towns. There were National Guard medics, rooting parents, energetic sandwich-makers and tired hot-chocolate brewers.
For all the help of the volunteers, the 24 hours were still tough. At the outset, everything went wrong. The early conditions were terribly icy and, coupled with the fact that Candi and I were wearing new boots and using skis that hadn't touched snow for eight months, produced many early bruises. Then the snow softened, the flurries lightened, and we gained confidence in our equipment. (A word of warning: Don't break in new boots during a 24-hour skiathon. Five of us tried to do so, and only Candi avoided trouble. Luckily, I'd packed an old, well-worn pair, and after seven hours I switched boots. The other three with boot problems were forced to withdraw.)
Around midnight the surface began to ice, and people quickly decided that the lodge offered more accommodating terrain. Some claimed boredom and quit. Others got injured: One strained a knee; another departed because of a thumb, jammed in the morning, that had swollen to ugly and painful proportions. Some were ordered to stop. The medical team recorded blood pressures and heart rates regularly, and if yours climbed too high, you were benched. Others were simply reasonable people who knew when they were too cold.
We less reasonable ones were treated to a night of stars and stark beauty. The sky was cloudless and the moon was new; we could see every constellation. Our thoughts wandered so far and wide, by dawn our minds needed as much rest as our bodies.
Candi and I talked about mutual friends. We talked with other skiers when we met on the slope. Individuals usually stopped at the same stations on the way down; a certain tree or mogul became Jack's Tree or Joe's Hill. When Jack wasn't at his tree, or Joe at his hill, for several runs in a row, we knew who'd dropped out.
"Sull," Candi said as we disembarked from the chairlift at 3:30 a.m., "that was the first ride up we didn't say anything." An ominous observation. But dawn was only a few hours off. Indeed, the dawn's early light, when it did finally come after six, was worth the fatigue, the biting temperature.
The sunrise process, from the silhouette of the Presidential Range across the valley through the sun's appearance over Boott Spur, lasted more than an hour. It was a slow, magical transformation that affected everything. At one point, the sky to our left was still black and filled with stars, while to the right it was as blue as noon. Our slope was shrouded in a London-fog sort of dusk and ahead of us were the Presidentials, blasted by the sun we still couldn't see, flashing pink and purple before turning the true white of their snowy covering.