January 9, 2011

how lindsey vonn spoiled my day in interlaken

The morning started out like any other morning, up at 7:00, a light breakfast, then hop on the bus to the ski slopes.  OK, maybe not like every other morning, but a pretty desirable thing to aspire to anyway.

To get to the ski slopes from Interlaken requires a bus ride, to Winderwil, followed by a train ride to Lauterbrunn, followed by a different train ride to Wengen, followed by a trip up the Mannlichen Gondola.  Unfortunately after all that trouble the quality of the snow was pretty bad.  The weather here in Interlaken the past couple of days has been unseasonably warm, so the snow is really icy in the morning, turning to slush by mid-day.  Most of the students that followed me out the door of our Hostel (Backpackers Villa Sonnenhof) were beginners.  By the end of the day they were calling themselves the Blue Crew because they were only taking the blue runs.  Note to U.S. skiiers, in the Alps blue is easy, red is intermediate, while black is for experts.  Somehow I got separated from the group right away and ended up doing the first run by myself.  It turned out that they had all skiied a ways ahead of mebut had stopped to contemplate their options in terms of which run to take.  Even after that contemplation they ended up taking a red run, which was not what they wanted to do.  It was during this first run that Aaron took a spill, and tore the ACL, and MCL ligaments in his knee.

Even though I waited at the bottom and top of the lift hoping to find the group again I was unsuccessful for several runs.  Maybe an hours worth of skiing.  Finally I did see the group coming off the blue run and the first thing I heard was “have you seen Aaron?”

No I said, why?

He fell and hurt himself on the run.  He told us to go on to the bottom but now we’re too scared to ski back down to him.

So, I took my board down the run and found him sitting all by himself by the side of a snow making machine.  Only one person had stopped to see if he needed help, and due to the language barrier apparently determined he was fine.  Meanwhile, I had talked to a couple of ski instructors and managed to locate a ski patrol on a snowmobile.  He joined us on the slope and made the assessment that Aaron was going to need to go to Wengen for some X-Rays.  As we were waiting we decided that we needed a better cover story than falling during the first run of the day.  Hence the Lindsey Vonn reference.  Our story is that she was on the slopes practicing for the world cup race next week and decided to flirt with Aaron, this distracted him momentarily and caused him to crash.  Sadly she did not stop to help or he would probably feel just fine.

After wrapping Aaron up like a Papoose on the sled behind the snowmobile the patrol took off for the Gondola, and I was supposed to ski down and take the lift back up and meet them there.  By the time I arrived the Gondola had already taken Aaron down, so I had to wait for the next one.  Down in Wengen Aaron got a ride in a taxi to the doctor’s office and was awaiting an X-ray by the time I arrived.  It only took about an hour and a half at the doctors office to get the X-Ray with the preliminary diagnosis of a torn crucial ligament.  They scheduled a followup appointment the next day so the other doctor could read the X-ray and weigh in.  They outfitted Aaron with a pair of crutches that included flip down spikes for the bottom to aid in navigating through the snow, and we were off.  Aaron with one ski boot on and his crutches, me carrying the other ski boot, his poles, helmet, skiis, and my own board, it was kind of a sad sight to see us slowly trudging through the narrow streets of Wengen back to the Bahnhoff.  Remember all the train and bus stops it took to get to Wengen?  Well we had to do the whole process in reverse loading and offloading skis, boards, etc. at each change.

Aaron and I made it back to the Hostel, where we began the process of calling our travel insurance company, Luther Study Abroad folks, and Aaron’s parents.  As I write this we are in “insurance-limbo” waiting to hear from our company whether they will cover an MRI in Laussane.  The MRI is critical because it appears that in addition to the torn ligaments there is also a small bone chip.  If the chip is too large or in the wrong place then He’ll have to go home and get ready for surgery.