We got about 3-4" of fresh snow on Sunday morning. This made for great conditions. We had several fun runs before breaking for lunch.

The first run after lunch proved to be somewhat disappointing. Although there was lots of great powder below the #5 chairlift, a missed turn resulted in a nasty spill. My left ankle really got yanked as the board's edge caught and the rest of me continued to zip down the mountain, until stopped by my ankle.

I was pretty sure that I was not going to be able to board down the rest of the hill any time soon. The ski patrol showed up after about 15 minutes. After talking for another 10 minutes, I decided I'd at least try to go down on my own. They'd wait above me in case it wasn't going to work out. Well it took less than one turn for me to realize I was probably done for the day.

The Toboggan Ride

I got bundled into the special toboggan and one of the ski patrol guys, Mark began guiding the sled down the hill. This was a fairly steep and ungroomed part of the hill. I think Mark was straining a bit with my adding 180 lbs (plus gear) to the sled behind him.

Now this ride down took us to a chairlift carrying skiiers to the summit. There are no roads to the backside. So this means a chairlift ride up in the toboggan, so we can ski down to Vail.. An exciting experience I would not recommend. The sled is bolted onto a makeshift frame which is lowered onto the chair itself. The ride on the lift is surprisingly stable given the arrangement. I had a nice chat with Dave and Mark on the ride up.

The Vail Valley Medical Center

Mark continues to guide the sled down to Vail Village from the summit. Probably a couple mile run. I was loaded into the back of a Chevy Suburban along with another human coccoon in a matching sled. My fellow passenger and I didn't speak to each other during the ride to the hospital Neither of us had seen each other's face and they just don't teach the protocol for such a situation in school.

Upon arrival at the hospital my carpool buddy was wheeled in front of the admissions guy first. A lot of questions are asked, mostly pertaining to your insurance and how to contact your employer. After the admissions guy finishes with his list of questions and is satisfied with the answers, you are asked to sign a page long legal disclaimer. From my cursory reading the document primarily dealt with the separation of physicians and the hospital (physicians are contractors, please sue them and not us).

An orderly helps bag the items you came with (e.g. jacket, sunglasses, boots, snowboards). These vanish over time, but you have the impression that there is a well-staffed basket check somewhere on the premises. (Update from Heather: actually it's just an open room where you can chose whatever items you want).

The admissions guy let me know that since I have an HMO (Kaiser), that they would ask me to self pay and then have me get reimbursed by Kaiser. Well my ankle still is bothering me, so I followed the old addage "get medical treatment first and ask questions later."

Wow, what a difference managed health care makes.

At Kaiser, when I broke my toe, the intern told me I could get an X-ray, but there really wasn't much point since the treatment would be the same. Here my swollen ankle merited 3 X-ray plates and an MRI scan. The machine that goes "BING" was broken, or they would have gotten that test done as well.

A fantastic self-hardening fiberglass splint was deployed on my ankle. Just moisten and form into place and it turns as hard as plaster in 10 minutes. Shiny adjustable crutches were also given to me.

I got to visit with an Orthopedic surgeon doing a study on the very snowboard related injury I had just gotten. He pointed out two circles drawn in felt pen around the MRI slices of my ankle. Apparently contained within these circles were the images of two very small bone fragments. They proved invisible to my untrained eye at the distance he was holding the film.

After the consultation, the splint and crutch lessons, and the prescription painkillers, I am directed to the "Admissions Desk".

Prominently featured at my end of the desk is the sign stating:

The lady behind the desk was pleasant enough, but yet I still felt like I was about to be persuaded to purchase rust-proofing.

The final bill: $1195.

For that kind of money, I better be boarding by the end of the week!