The Skier’s Curse

The knee didn’t lock up. I didn’t feel a tear, or hear a pop. It was one of
those mystery maladies that I started feeling eight hours after playing basketball.
Still, there was definitely something wrong. And facing a week-long mogul skiing
camp 30 days later, I would rather have dealt with a succession of two-by-four
blows to the head than a minor tinge every time I tried to bend my knee.

Ye gods, the horrors of a skier with a knee injury.


All told, a minor injury suffered in the dead of summer provides ample time
to recover – assuming, of course, that the injured party is not a complete freak
and maintains a regime of rest and rehab. Fortunately, I am not on the World
Cup circuit, and Olympic gold does not rest on my aging joints. But I am a freak.
And this mogul camp calls me.

The Smart Mogul Skiing Camp offers the professional or developing mogul buster
seven days of summer bump skiing on the Blackcomb Glacier in Whistler, British
Columbia. John Smart, mogul-skiing guru and camp director, hires only champion
World Cup mogul masters to instruct campers in a maximum class size of seven
skiers. The camp also includes videotape analysis, sports psychology and instruction
in jumps and aerial antics.


The prospect of sticking back flips while learning solid bump technique from
pros had me salivating like a Pavlovian dog. I had to attend. I reserved my
spot, tendered my deposit and went to sleep wrapped in dreams of mogul fields
and jump ramps.

And then came the fluke.

I made the obligatory trip to the orthopedic surgeon and learned that I suffered
minor cartilage damage. No surgery required, no needles necessary to drain the
knee. And also, no guarantee that I’d be able to ski by late July. The miracles
of modern medicine indeed.

With only one month separating my bad knee from the mogul runs, extreme measures
had to be taken.

Once one departs from standard medical procedures, the list of non-traditional
therapy is long, dubious, and in some cases downright demented. But when the
going gets weird, we freaks turn to the Internet, a veritable cornucopia of
strangeness and desperate cures – among many other things.

At first I found sites on acupuncture, hypnosis, crystals, tealeaves, chi-energy
channeling and fire walking – all of which I believe in and strongly support.

But after digging deeper…sweet Jesus, who still engages in bloodletting and
leeches these days? I would have hoped to see more advances in that arena since
1799. Even snake charming and faith healing have gone high tech.

And then I came upon a site heralding the merits of a little-known Malaysian
liniment made from Monitor Lizard dung – a sketchy prospect at best considering
the critters’ “protected” status and purported foul stench…

Still, this one could work.

A couple of mouse clicks and credit card number transfers later, and viola.
The ointment arrived in a hollowed-out coconut shell, complete with instructions
in English, sort of. Thank God it is not intended for internal consumption.
As it is, the external stink has cost me several friends and the companionship
of my dog.

But the knee feels miraculously better. With a little more than two weeks before
the mogul camp, I am confident that I will not only attend, but also rip some
killer lines and tricks.

For those of you who may be laid up with aching knees, stay tuned to these
hallowed pages for my upcoming dispatches from Whistler. And if you ask real
nice, I’ll send you the URL for the Malaysian Lizard Lotion.

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