Sunday, August 22, 2010

SKYYY DIVVVINNGG!!!






When I was little, when asked what the super power I most wanted was I answered, "Flying". Well, I was able to do that a couple of days ago, sort of. Well... I was able to jump out of a plane and then fall for 60 seconds. Before I went some of the guys explained it to me this way, "It is like looking out of your Lufthansa flight... and then jumping."
At first I was hesitant to go. It is... a lot of money and my mom was frowning on the idea (she doesn't usually frown on crazy things). I let the opportunity slip by me twice before I got a simple email from my Dad saying, "I talked to Mom, she said yes. I'll pay. Don't miss the opportunity". Thanks Dad and Mom! So I talked to some of the teams here and learned that the Prospect Team guys were going to go on our next day off. The night before the day off, I told Phil Brown that I was going to try to meet them there. I called the next morning, but they said they were on hold (because of the clouds) and had no more room, they were in fact overbooked. I decided to head over to Queenstown anyway and see if I could slip into their group. When I got there Phil told me that he had called before me that morning and I was the "overbooked" person. I GOT TO GO!Phil, Sasha, Dom, Me and Erik!
So I signed my life away and we headed to the van that takes us to the launching area. As soon as we arrived we saw the plane that we would be taking up... not a very big plane with a big see through door on the side.
We got suited up in our jumpsuits, harnesses, helmets (less like a helmet, more like a hat), goggles and gloves. We had a 5 minute briefing on what to do, that was mostly along the lines of... Be a banana and look up at the camera (this type of briefing would NEVER happen in North America). Then I met my jumping partner and we headed to the plane with Phil and Sasha. On the way he asked me how high we were jumping from today, I answered, "15 000ft. Might as well go big or go home." And... big, or high I should say, it was.

We kept going up and uP and UP! And when I thought we must almost be at our maximum height, I was told we were just over halfway to our jumping height. What had I gotten myself into? Finally, the green light in the plane went on, they threw open the door and Sasha's camera man climbed to the side of the plane. Then Sasha's guide hung him off the side of the plane, they rocked back and forth three times in time with the camera man... and they were GONE. And this is a new sense of the word gone. They fell at around 200-240km/h from the plane.... That is when the rigamortis set in... finally I was nervous.My guide hung me out of the plane so my legs were dangling (15000ft up) rocked 3 times and... we fell our of the plane. I screamed... as if I was being murdered and then everything slowed down for a while. He tapped my shoulders and I let my arms fly. It was amazing. It doesn't even feel like your falling, everything slows down for a while and the 60s of free fall feels like much longer. However, it was really hard to breath. I was more afraid of not catching my next breath than I was of falling. My eyes were watering so much my goggles filled up with tears.
I kept looking all around me, at my camera man spinning and circling and at the "small" peaks below, thinking about how crazy it was that I was in the air.
Finally, my guide pulled the parachute and everything suddenly went completely silent and peaceful, our clothes stopped whipping around, my eyes stopped watering, I could breath again. After I few seconds I hear, "Do you want to fly?" At this point, I am not thinking straight... fly? But as he pulled on the cords to the parachute, I understood. He was letting me steer us in the air. If I pulled down really hard with my right hand we would go into a spiral dive. I started getting really dizzy and I heard his voice behind me telling me to just pull with my left hand when I wanted to stop. I kept spinning for a while longer, then pulled with my left hand and suddenly we were weightless, it was as if we got lifted up for a second.
Eventually, he took the cords back and began steering us towards the landing field. All I had to do was lift my legs up when he landed and as his feet touched and he started jogging a bit, I put my feet back down and jogged with him... and that was it.The entire experience was amazing... or at least what I remember of it is. Phil picked up my pictures for me and saw them before I did. His comment was that I had the exact same facial expression in every picture.... He was right. I had the biggest smile on my face in every one. I called my Dad after and left a message. I talked to my Mom on a very... distant Skype connection. Our conversation went something like this:
Me: Guess what I did today??
Mom: Can you hear me? Oh... what?
Me: Jumped out of a plane
Mom: What happened with a plane?
Me: I JUMPED OUT OF IT!

...And I won't forget it.
Grandpa, does this still sound like what you want for your 80th birthday gift?

Friday, August 20, 2010

... SHEEP!

So... I'm in New Zealand now!! We started off our trip in Lake Tekapo and skied at Round Hill. This is basically like exactly how it sounds... a fairly round hill by a big lake. And it is ABSOLUTELY beautiful.During the week in Lake Tekapo, our training was amazing. I got a lot of new, fresh, solid feelings in GS, SL and yes mom, SG! Most days were sunny and I looked forward to getting in as many runs as I could. The ski hill's slogan is, "For the newly wed and the nearly dead".On one of our last days, we decided to take a ride up the World's longest and steepest rope tow! dun, Dun, DUNNN

After about 7 runs of super g and 12 runs of slalom we put on our harnesses and headed up for one last run. Eve in her harness
Using our "nut crackers", a type of clamp that hooks around the rope and you hold it shut, we clamped onto the rope tow. I was a bit nervous about how close my hand holding the cracker was coming to the wheels that the rope goes in between. The lifty at the bottom wasn't kidding when he said to hold on tight.The little lines that you see on the bottom right is where we usually ski...Once I got to the top, arms and legs burning, I looked around and saw one of the most beautiful mountain scenes I have ever seen in my life. It is hard to explain exactly how amazing the view was, but to give you a slight picture, the mountain beneath us was so steep that we had a perfect panoramic view and everything beneath us looked flat (even the area we usually ski at).On our last night we went to bed looking out the window at vegetation and clear roads and woke up to CHRISTMAS TIME!! There was snow everywhere. Skiing was canceled and we had to wait for the pass to open to start our trip to Coronet Peak near Queenstown.
Kelly, MP, Me and Elli in Queenstown

While we ski at Coronet, we stay on a golf course just outside of town. I am staying in a house with 8 other girls, hardwood floors and a fireplace! We have a local chef that cooks our meals for us, giving us time to venture into Queenstown, watch video, do dryland or... nap. By the water where the market is on the weekends.

Our days have been very productive at Coronet. We have had ice, bumpy snow, soft snow, flats, PITCHES, fog, rain, snow.... almost everything!
Our GS days have been tough and challenging because it is so early in the season. BUT I've been trying to keep that in perspective and remember the amazing feelings I had in Round Hill and free skiing. SL felt awkward and tough at first, but now I am just trying to ski as hard as I possibly can and I'm having fun doing it! We have done two races here so far. The first was a GS, that was a learning day for me. The second was a slalom where I got to see how my skiing compares time-wise. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I ended up winning the first run. However, I straddled the second run... but my goal for the day was reached and I skied more confidently than I have in a while.New Zealand is amazing so far. The training is great, the views are incredible and the kiwis (AND salmon) taste better than ever. We are all started to feel the fatigue of the camp, but it is easier to keep going when we can visit the market on the weekend, play charades and Kevin comes to visit me!On the drive back from Queenstown

MY NEXT POST IS GOING TO BE VERY COOL!!... in my opinion

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Better Late Than Never

Sorry this is so late everyone! We just bought internet here in NZ, that I can use without counting megabits.
I will tell you about Whistler first!And Kevin's birthday weekend.
ONCE AGAIN.. Baye is the best and bought us all tickets to a Kings of Leon Concert at the Gorge in Washington. I woke up at 5:30 on Saturday morning and did some hill work of death before we started our road trip to THE GORGE. With Taylor (Kevin's brother) driving and Alison (Taylor's girlfriend) as co-captain, Baye, Kevin and I belted Kings of Leon with the help of printed lyrics.
When we arrived, we set up camp beside many Kings of Leon fans (or so we thought).Our neighbours were a couple from Tennessee, but they were probably the only legitimate KOL fans that we met. Baye made all of us t-shirts with lyrics on the front (amazing, if I do say so myself), Taylor, Alison, Baye, Kevin and myself
and many people came up to us asking, "Do you guys, like, like Kings of Leon THAT much?"... I guess it didn't make sense to them that we would like Kings of Leon if we were seeing them in concert. Baye and Kev... (it was really warm)
But we DO like Kings of Leon THAT MUCH (and it made it easier to find everyone after the concert). The concert was incredible, the view was beautiful and the company was amazing.On our way home from the concert we stopped at the LuLu lemon outlet store which was... the best and put a nice end to our weekend.The girls!

Kevin's parents gave him a dinner for two "voucher" for his birthday, so the next weekend we went to an amazing restaurant at a golf course in Whistler. It was amazing!! Oh how I love scallops and brownies!
I miss Whistler and everyone there. Kevin's birthday was a success, although this year I didn't pop out of a large box.
I'm in New Zealand now, working away, having fun and making changes, not to mention eating food cooked by a chef!
I'll write about that soon!