How Things Happen
by tommy kirchhoff
A long time ago, I moved to a tiny little town called Telluride, Colorado. I hadn’t even lived there two weeks when the mountain opened for the winter season. If you recall that 94-95 ski season, early conditions were phenomenal; the snow was untracked powder on opening day, and an estimated 57 inches deep. These are great conditions for a Rocky Mountain skier, but at that point in my life, I couldn’t call myself a Rocky Mountain skier. I was still making the daunting “East Coast to West Coast” transition. In other words, I couldn’t ski powder (but I also didn’t know that I didn’t know how).
My new friends and I rode up chair nine and shared a bowl—because that’s what you do in Telluride. Boarders were hucking off cornices, teliers were squirting out of the trees, and everybody was hootin’ and hollerin’. I couldn’t wait to get some of it. The only wisdom my new “friends” imparted to me on the lift was “No friends on a powder day.”
I was stoned like a monkey when I got off the lift. The other guys dropped under immediately, but Ken traversed a little so I followed him. We sped down a trail, and I remember laughing when we turned at the trail sign that read, “Joint Point.”
The snow was wonderful, but my Volkl P10 SL’s were a bad choice. I made no more than six backseat turns, augered a tip, then eggbeatered some forty feet. My Marker MRR had let me go again. Premature ejection.
I compiled myself and took inventory. One pole…two poles…one ski…and nothing. One of my Volkl’s was gone, eaten by the great white monster that is Joint Point. After 20 minutes of digging, I thought to myself, “what am I doing? And man is it hard to breathe up here!” My “friends” lapped me so many times I couldn’t believe it. “No friends on a powder day!” they yelled as they bounced down Kant Makim, Mammoth and Joint Point. I was not leaving that mountain without my ski; it was my livelihood!
After I dug for almost an hour, this girl stopped to help me. She was so kind, and very cute, and obviously breaking the code of the powder day. We worked diligently together for almost 15 minutes, then she apologized and said she needed to catch up to her friends. I thought to myself, “she was cute.”
I dug for another 30 minutes, changing my technique several times until I figured out the “quarrying technique.” One digs down to the dirt, then opens the hole until the ski is found. The quarry grew to almost 25 feet in circumference, then I found my Volkl. Boy was that a sensation.
A year later, I met Kat at the Telluride Halloween Party. We were both quite intoxicated, but our chance-meeting was a thunderbolt—true love at first sight. Of course, you don’t have to believe me, but we kissed each other within the first seven seconds.
It must have been two years after we met that the subject came up of Telluride’s opening day in the 94-95 season. I told Kat about my friends, and crashing, and digging for my ski on Joint Point. Kat thought that was very strange because she helped a guy dig for his ski that opening day on Joint Point. I said that in the entire morning, I was the only person on that run who was digging for a ski.
It was a thunderbolt all over again.
For reasons known only to the Fates, this universe meant us to be together. So to my beautiful wife, I offer my heart again and again and again…