GIMPIX

Downhill skiing Jackson Hole 1972



Myself and a circle of friends lived in Ogden, Utah and attended Weber 
State College. We all snow skied at the local spots a couple of times 
a week.  Each season season someone in the group broke a leg or arm
or something.  It was usually one of the girls, and always brought on
the normal opinions that shit happens, and it's no big deal. Nothing
changes - everything goes on, and whoever was in the cast was dragged
everywhere we go.  Basically standard operating procedures.

One specific Saturday most of us decided we would take the time to
drive four hours North to Jackson Hole for a change. I do not know
how many couples or individuals drove up.  We had a great day - 
sunshine, cold and lots of snow. As with most days of serious downhill
skiing, by the time the Sun goes down you are getting tired - legs
especially. 

Several individuals agreed that we were going to make our last run,
top to bottom, without stopping. On a big mountain, this can be hard
because about half way down if you are doing any speed your legs begin
to throb. Well, we were flying down and I could feel the strength 
draining out of my legs.  I knew everyone else was having the same
problem.  It was just a matter of who would be the last one to stop to
rest. I was directly behind Tami.  Tami is an attractive blond with a
great body.  She is on the cheerleader squad and plays softball.  I 
could see that she was having trouble holding the turns, getting wider
and wider on each turn.  We were approaching a turn about three 
quarters down when she started to try to stop.  She could not get 
enough edge, and started to slide out of the turn.  Tami then just 
dropped to the snow trying to keep herself from flipping over.  I was 
just behind her as I saw her left ski dig into the snow, rotate around
as her body passed over the same spot.  She then flipped over and 
started to cartwheel down the slope. After what seemed like a long 
time she stopped sliding.

I stopped next to her.  I asked her if she was okay?  She turned 
toward me with tears running down her cheeks and screamed she had 
broken her leg.  I then looked down to see her left ski boot pointing 
the wrong way.  I told her to keep still as I packed snow around the
area of her leg that looked bad.  She said she just dropped down
because she could not slow down to stop.  Tami then said: "Well I 
guess this year it's my turn to be in a cast".  I told her not to
worry that she knows this kind of thing happens all the time and it 
is no big deal.  She asked me if I thought she would get a full 
length cast?  I told her she would be cute in a long leg cast, and
winter was over anyway.  Then she said: "great - a big cast for the 
summer" which would keep her from water skiing. 

The Ski Patrol did their normal great job getting her off the 
mountain and into the hospital.  I told her we would stop by, and 
get her after they fixed her leg. By the time we all got together 
and decided who was going to get her home, everyone had headed back
to Ogden.  I went to the hospital to get Tami.  She was not in the
emergency room with all the other injured people from the day.  I was
told she had been admitted, and was in her assigned room.  This was 
not good - my plan was to be back home tonight.  I entered her room
to find her in a God awful traction machine with rods sticking out
of little holes in her leg. She started crying as soon as she saw me.

"You told me this was no problem, I would be in a cast and headed 
home by now".  I asked her what the hell had happened?  Tami went 
into her story from the doctors that her lower leg was shattered and
could not be properly set without this traction device. She would 
not be able to move out of the bed for two weeks.  So much for 
taking this pretty blond home tonight......

Two weeks later I went with her Dad to Jackson Hole to get her. Tami's
mother had gone up to stay with her.  The word was that she had done 
well and they were prepared to put her in a cast and let her come
home.  We entered the room to find her leg hanging from an overhead
pulley system.  They had, in fact, put a plaster cast on her that 
started at the first joint of her tiny toes, and ended at the top of 
her thigh.  She was smiling and more than ready to get out of the 
hospital room.  A male nurse from physical therapy came in and loaded
her into a wheelchair.  He said if she can pass the crutches test, she
will be released. I went to physical therapy with them to add moral
support.  

He stood her up between two wooden rails, so she could support herself
on her arms.  He then fitted two new wooden crutches under her armpits,
so they had proper two finger clearance when her hands were straight 
down to the handles.  The casted leg hung down with a good bend in the
knee, her foot hanging naturally. This allowed only the thick bottom 
edge of plaster just under her toes to contact the floor.  In this 
position, her toes did not touch the floor.  The physical therapy 
technician directed her to the course which included up & down a small
set of stairs.  Tami went through the several tasks with no problem.
She had been on crutches before.  Satisfied she could get around on 
the crutches, he loaded her back into the wheelchair for the trip 
back to her room.  In the room she used the crutches to go to the 
bathroom, and put on a sweatsuit outfit her Dad had brought for her
trip home.  Her Mother helped her get the pants over the cast, and 
put on one of her Dads work socks over the exposed toes.  We wheeled 
her to the entrance where she got on her crutches.  Tami crutched the
short distance to her Dads Blazer.  Her parents rode in front while
me and Tami were in the back seat.  The four hour trip went fast, as 
I held her injured leg in my lap. The pain pills made her sleep most
of the way.  At home, Tami had no problem crutching into her house. 
My plan was to give her some time with her family and step back into
the picture when she was ready to go back to classes at Weber. She 
was going to be a great addition to my Spring class schedule!  I just
knew Tami would be very active and not let her broken leg restrict 
any activities.  A good looking blond with a long leg cast just does
not come along that often, and one must take advantage of this turn
of events.  As I left her house, she had changed into shorts and 
removed the sock from her casted toes. Bare footed and crutching 
through the house she looked great.  I helped her to an easy chair and
lifted the cast up on several pillows sitting on the coffee table. 
She thanked me for all my help, wiggled her toes and asked me to please
sign her cast. 

Tami called me to request my help getting her out to their ranch to 
check on her horse.  When I got to her house she was sitting on the 
front steps putting on a work boot.  I helped put a sock over her cast.
Then, she asked me to put a large rubber over shoe on the foot of her
broken leg.  She stood up to show me her bib overalls, flannel shirt 
and rubber boots.  This should protect her feet from anything on the
dirt floor of the barn.  She crutched to my pickup like a pro. I lifted
her up on the seat, then lifted her casted leg into the truck.  Even
without seeing the cast it was very much there.  We spent most of the
day out at the horse ranch.  She wanted to ride but we could not come
up with a good way to get on and off the horse.  After a meal I took 
her home.  Tami then asked if I could also give her some help getting
to a couple of college classes.  She really needed to get back into
classes for some labs so she did not lose the credits this term.

A couple of days later I again went to her house.  The weather had
warmed up and I was looking forward to seeing her with a little less
on.  I went to the door and heard her call me inside.  Back in her 
bedroom she was sitting on the bed putting a hiking boot on her good
foot.  Her broken leg was up on the bed and the cast totally uncovered.
She handed me a tube sock to put over her exposed toes. I lifted up 
the cast and started pushing and pulling the sock on to the foot 
section of the cast.  This was a job because that first cast was large
and made the sock very tight passing over the heel and up on to the
ankle.  It was a real shame to cover up those lovely little toes that
she wiggles all the time.  Tami then reached for her crutches, and 
stood next to the bed in a great pair of white shorts.  She pulled the
shorts to cover the top edge of the cast that extended very high on
her thigh.  That was one great looking young lady crutching off to
school.  It was a really great day carrying her books around the
campus of Weber State College.  We went to two classes.  After the
second class, Tami said she was having some pain in her lower leg
and her casted foot was very tight.  We went to the cafeteria for a
break.  Tami went to a table while I got the drinks. I raised her 
cast up on to a chair.  I could see the look of pain on her face as
I moved the leg.  She then asked me to remove the sock so she could
see how much her toes were swollen.  I sat down in the chair and held
her casted foot in my lap to remove the sock.  Her toes were twice as
big as they would normally be.  She then raised her good foot up to 
me to remove her boot and sock.  Then we put her feet side by side to
compare her toes. The toes on her broken leg were really puffed up.

Tami decided I should take her home so she could lie down and get
the cast above her body.  I put her boot back on and started to 
pull the sock over her cast when she stopped me because it was 
hurting too much to push and pull on the cast.  By the time she had
crutched across the campus her exposed toes were really looking bad.
We were stopped by several people as she crutched to the parking 
area.  Each time she stood on the crutches swinging her casted leg
back and forth.  I could see she did not want to be rude to her 
friends, but she was hurting.  I decided to let her visit and went
to get my pickup.  I drove up on the grass next to where she had 
stopped to talk.  I lifted her on to the tailgate while placing the
casted leg up on the side of my bed liner.  This seemed to help 
while she visited with her friends.  We finally got her into the 
truck and started for her house.  She thanked me for bringing the
truck to her and putting her leg up.  When we got to her house, I took
her in my arms and carried her into the house.  Her Mother asked 
what happened - did she fall or something?  I said, "No, just too 
much crutching at one time". "Maybe a wheelchair would help the 
next time she goes to class". Tami did not like that idea. She did 
not want to be in a wheelchair.  We will see next time. 

Next trip to Weber was for a Friday nite softball game.  I picked her
up dressed in Jeans that had the left leg cut on the outside seam, 
and a leather string laced along the outside pant seam to hold the 
expanded pant leg around her cast.  She wore a hiking boot that gave
her good ankle support and had a sock covering the exposed cast.  A
short Jean jacket and baseball cap with her blond ponytail pulled 
through the back latch of the cap.  She looked super with the
signature covered cast showing through the split opening in her
blue Jean pant leg.  Once at the field she crutched up to the top 
row of the bleachers, sitting down using the backrest with her casted
leg on the bench in front of her.  The normal crowd soon converged on
her discussing her crash at Jackson Hole.  Most of her group of 
friends are long time skiers and a broken leg, six weeks in a cast,
then back to the mountain is considered perfectly normal.  Tami 
explained that her injury was not a normal one. First off, she was in
traction, restricted to bed for two weeks.  Once released, she would
be in a long leg, non-weight bearing cast for ten to twelve weeks. 
If all is on schedule at the end of twelve weeks, then a series of 
smaller casts with some weight bearing, finishing up in a short leg
walking cast with no crutches.  She did not expect to be in the short
leg walker for fourteen to sixteen weeks.  Because of the type of 
fractures she had, there would be no skiing for a year.  Tami told 
this story to the group with a small tear in her eye.  She knew this 
was different by the way her leg felt.  It was really 'junk' inside, and
she could feel bones moving as she pushed or pulled on the cast.  Tami
also realized that was the only way to repair the bones without 
surgery which would leave a big scar on the leg.  The conversations 
with her girlfriends who had broken their legs and the amount of trouble
that Tami was having told the story that this was not a normal broken
leg.  Most of the other stories related to various abusive things they
did to their casts, and not following doctors orders.  One girl 
bragged about the number of casts she destroyed and had to have 
replaced.  Her injury involved more the ankle area, but still required
a long leg cast initially.  She claimed she put weight or walked on
every cast she had.  Now, she showed Tami what she referred to as her
'fat ankle'.  It was swollen and much larger than her other ankle.  She
had pain and poor circulation at the joint.  Major surgery and back into
casts again would be the only fix, which she was not prepared to do.  
No scars and no more casts.  Years later that woman did have to have
surgery and was in a long leg cast bent at a right angle at the knee
for a long time.  She was not a happy being - a new wife trying to 
start her new job in this strange cast and on crutches.  She had to 
pay the price for her bad judgement years before, which I reminded her
of when I saw her in the right angle cast. 

The game ended, and I followed Tami out to my truck. We went for a 
milkshake and cruised a little.  We talked mostly about all the stories
others had told her.  She was very depressed as she looked at her cast.
I assured her all would be okay, and everything was going to work out.
All the horror stories did give Tami a real life sense for what problems
you can have if you do not adhere to doctors rules. 

Tami is a strong Morman girl and had no specific boyfriend.  I did not
feel right about sexual contact with her.  Any passionate demands would
have driven her off.  It was great just to be her friend.  The next week
of school I saw her car pull into the student parking area.  She got 
out of the drivers side and crutched up to the student union building.
She was wearing cut off Jeans, and a knee sock on her good leg.  She 
said her leg was doing good as she took off her backpack. 

I tried to follow her everywhere for the next couple of months.  Tami 
did not miss an event, and attended most of her classes.  She was the
highlight of my Spring term.  There were a couple more women that
Spring in casts, but none as friendly as Tami.  She did finally get
out of all her casts, and we did ski the next year.


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