Yesterday I had the great displeasure of witnessing one of the dumbest actions I have ever seen.
Went to a local ski resort to partake in a special photo/filming session. Invite only, skier produced with some guest snowboarders to come as well. I was there through on invitation from a friend.
When we got there yesterday morning I watched as the resort crew worked with four pisten bullys to put the finishing touches on a huge jump. I have seem some big jumps in my time, but this is by far the biggest I have ever seen in Japan. When it was finished the distance from take off to beginning of landing was 32 meters.
And not only was the jump huge, it was a gap jump. I guarantee it was the largest gap jump ever built in Japan.
at lunch time I went back to my house to get my snow mobile to use to shuttle riders to the top of the jump. upon returning to the mountain I found the crew digging the landing. They we trying to fill in a hole in the landing. As I stood there looking at the landing I started to get a bad feeling. I was looking at one of the shortest landing I had ever seen, certainly not enough for a 32 meter jump. The pile of snow was massive, but the sweet spot that you needed to land in was less than 3 meters long. I made a few comments to that effect, but things had unfortunately already been set in motion.
As the sun neared the horizon I assumed there would be no jumping going on that day. The session was set for the next day anyway. Then I got the call to shuttle a young skier who was in charge of the design of the kicker up to the top of the drop in.
I assumed he was just going to do a speed check, and I was right. I came back down with the snowmobile and he signaled me to take him back up again. I assumed another speed check. I mean really, seriously, if you built a huge death gap, would you not take a bunch of speed checks before launching yourself across 35 meters of certain injury? I witnessed Mads Jonson set a world record a few years ago in Norway. I remember him taking lots of speed checks before even thinking about trying it. Plus the landing on that world record jump was much longer and it was not a death gap. He also had one of the longest approach lines I have ever seen. You could hardly see him when he stood at the top.
Anyway I am rambling, the skier dude takes a few stretches and then waves to everyone and drops in. I sit on my sled and watch as he actually takes a few turns on the approach, I am still thinking he is doing a speed check when suddenly he points it and launches the jump. He comes of super short of course and lands on his side half way up the slope in the gap. Amazingly he seems fine. he gets up and shakes it off. Everyone if laughing at him and he says something like “you guys will know what it feels like soon” Then he signals me to shuttle him up again.
Oh shit, what have I got myself into here. That was the thought on my mind.
I pulled him up the approach assuming that he would start much much higher to get more speed and just do a speed check. Wouldn’t you after coming up that short? I aimed the sled higher up the hill, but I felt him let go of the toe rope at the same spot.
No way I thought, this idiot is going to launch it again, from the exact same spot. I wish I have a photo of the run in to show you. It was way to short. I mean really way to short. Ridiculously to short.
This time he didn’t even do his strech routine so I had no time to ride my sled down before him. I just sat there at the top with my mouth open letting my sled idle as I watched this dude point it at one of the most dangerous jumps I have ever seen. He didn’t even have ski poles. I am not to clued in to the ski scene lately, is this the new trend in freestyle skiing? It looked pretty wack to me.
Anyway I remember mumbling something to myself like “dude you are fucked up” or something like that. Then I watched as he flew through the air for about 27 meters and landed exactly on the corner of the death gap. The Death corner it you will.
The kuckle or corner of the jump is always a bad spot to land. If you land on the corner it can send you bouncing down the landing out of control.
But landing on the near corner of a huge gap jump is something altogether different. A head on collision with a truck, would be a good analogie….
When I got to the scene the closest patrol guy was already there trying to stop the flow of blood gushing from dudes neck. Aparently the side of his neck had split open about the size of a golf ball. There was blood everywhere.
After that everything was a rush as everybody worked fast to get this kid on the stretcher sled and down the mountain as fast at possible. Amazingly he was concious and knew what was going on so that was a good sign.
Just as we got down to the base area the Doctor heli arrived. Basically a flying ambulance, the crew took over from there and a few moments later he was in the heli on the way to the hospital.
The session was canceled and everybody packed up and headed home. What a strange day. What a wasted day. Then I started thinking, this is why there are disclaimers at the begining of ski and snowboard movies. you know “don’t try this at home kids, these stunts of done by professionals” that kind of disclaimer.
Obviously this kid had been watching too many ski video’s and drinking too much Red Bull. He was acting cocky all day long. I even heard him tell someone “I am going to be number one in Japan”. Anytime someone starts talking shit like that you know these are asking for trouble.
Here is the only photo I have, this is from the first try. You can get an idea how big the jump was and how short he is going to land.