A Fear Realized
This story from the Ottawa Citizen hasn’t left me since I read it 36 hours ago. I woke up this morning thinking about it.
The quick synopsis: A five-year old girl slipped under the safety bar and fell off the chairlift this past weekend at the same ski hill where Lil D and Lil C take their lessons. She was with her instructor and one other person. She was taken to hospital but has since been released with minor injuries. The story describes a similar incident in January at another ski hill close to Ottawa.
Let me start by saying that I do not have a fear of heights, but I am naturally a little paranoid. True story: there was one spot on the McGill campus that I avoided during the winter because I pictured myself slipping on the ice, bouncing off the wall, sliding into the street, and run over by oncoming traffic.
But sometimes you have to be willing to take risks, and occasionally I had no other choice but to walk on that side of the road.
And I really like skiing. Some of my fondest family memories are of weekends skiing in Vermont or family trips out west.
As a child, I remember watching mitts, skis, and poles fall from my place in the sky when I was busy chatting with my friends on the chairlift. I would sometimes imagine the cable breaking and all the chairlifts unstringing like pearls on a broken necklace and crashing to the ground one by one.
As a teenager, my friends and I became cavalier about the safety bar, leaving it up above our heads (my adult self is horrified).
I now put the bar down and feel the paranoia keeping me vigilant while I ride above the slopes.
When I take the chair lift with my kids, I keep a hand on them. If I’m with two kids (took Lil D and his friend up this past weekend), I try to keep a hand on both (I ski without poles). But it still makes me nervous.
I honestly hadn’t worried about the kids with their instructors because I know they are cautious about the adult to child ratio. But now that I’ve read that story I will be. Lil C is so little. He could slip under the bar if he were squirming enough. Lil D is a cautious child so I am less worried about him. He is usually his own safety check when he is aware of a danger (and this one is obvious).
But this won’t stop me from letting them take lessons without me. It’ll just mean more frequent trips to the salon to deal with the greys and forehead creases.
This coming Sunday, when I leave the boys with their instructors, I will find comfort in telling myself that chairlift safety is now top of mind because of this very scary incident.
Oh, and another skiing safety note: We do all wear helmets. Even the old guard (my parents) has adopted them.