Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Franz Klammer in Me

Let me make one thing clear from the get-go: I don't ski. The last time I skied, some thirty years ago, I fell and tore enough ligaments in my knee to have to be rescued by the Ski Patrol. They put me in a small sledge and skied me over to a Sno-Cat operator, who took me on down the mountain to the ski lodge, where I gratefully embraced the warmth and accepted the painkillers proffered to me.

So, I don't ski. But I like the idea of skiing. I like the idea of all that speed as you fly downhill.

(Note: cross-country skiing is not skiing, in my book. Cross-country skiing is just going for a long, awkward hike with boards strapped to your feet.)

My all-time favorite Olympic memory, more so even than the 1980 "Miracle on Ice," is that of Austrian Franz Klammer winning the gold medal in downhill in 1976 in Innsbruck. I still remember sitting on the edge of the couch watching and screaming at the television as he flashed across the finish line. At times he was skiing on the edge of one ski, almost certain to go over on his side. At times he was airborne as he hurtled towards the finish. Ski commentators still call Klammer's gold medal run one of the greatest (and most daring) ever.

It was Franz Klammer whose spirit I invoked today when I posted "standing at the top of the ski run to the end of 2010" as my Facebook status. 

Discussions of the holidays and what to do, or not to do, for Christmas are starting to fill the airwaves. My friend Tonya emailed me about it last night. In answering Tonya this morning, I replied: My Christmas spirit I think this year is quiet - not gone, but very soft-spoken. I am trying to avoid the "one big 'to do' list" feeling and really, really trying hard not to get caught up in expectations (mine or others) of what Christmas "should" be to be "perfect." My friend Sharon blogged about it this morning, asking what readers were doing to simplify Christmas. In answering her, I borrowed from my note to Tonya, then added: And that is where I am trying to stay this year. I am trying to conscientiously weigh what I am doing and why, and making my choices from there.

No matter what I vow to do about Christmas, I know that at some point the collective piles of holly and mistletoe, along with the decked halls and visions of sugarplums, will hit staggering heights.  That's even before I add all of the "wrap up the old year and start the new one" tasks. Before too much longer, I will be poised at top of a dauntingly long run whose end is way, way, way off there. This weekend was just a warm-up run.

It's a slippery slope indeed, this end of the year trickiness, and one on which I don't want to lose my balance. I will check and double-check my bindings and adjust my goggles one more time before I push off from the starting gate. I want to slice down that icy hill at breakneck pace and feel the skis cut through the snow. I want to flash across the finish line, upright and victorious.

I want it to be Innsbruck all over again. I want to be Franz Klammer.

1 comment:

Jackie said...

April, this post is timely for me. Lovely post as always. Simplifying my life...especially during the holidays sounds so appealing to me right now.