Photo by Molly Hagbrand

You and three companions are on an afternoon cross country ski of a marked, but ungroomed trail system in the local national forest. The temperature has been hovering in the low teens Fahrenheit, the day made beautiful by a blue sky, the absence of wind, and plenty of fresh snow. You’ve been skiing for several hours and reached your planned turn around point 5K from the trailhead. 

“Check this person out!”  

A lone skier cuts turns down the steep hillside above the trail. He’s moving smoothly on a course to cut right in front of you until he takes a terrain feature that launches him in the air. His skis go up, his butt goes down, and he lands hard on his back. You’re impressed when he bounces, stands and glides for a few moments. You’re concerned when he sits awkwardly and rolls onto his side.    

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