It is the nightmare of every parent. There you are enjoying a sweet ski day and then you notice the sign while boarding the lift that says “Parents of __– please go to the ski area clinic.” Or maybe you catch your breath as you watch your kid not land the 540 off the big jump in the terrain park. Or you fight back every instinct and don’t run out on the ice after your kid gets hit at the blue line during a hockey game and doesn’t jump up right away.
I’ve gone through all those scenarios and have been lucky. My kids eventually got up every time. There are local parents in the last few days that haven’t been as lucky.
Five-year-old Ellie Tippie got run into and racked while on a blue run in a ski class. She broke her femur pretty bad and for an active little kid, that can’t be easy. After the accident, the snowboarder hung around and was remorseful. He was eventually charged by law enforcement officers with first degree assault.
It couldn’t have been easy for the parents to be around the guy who put their daughter in the hospital. But the parents seem extremely gracious and level headed and not out to hang the 28-year-old snowboarder who was on his last day of vacation and ruined not only his trip but really, a part of his life. This is something he won’t soon forget.
Gunnison hockey player Dustin McGuinness was checked at a hockey game in Durango. The high school freshman is now in a drug-induced coma at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction but appears to be making progress toward recovery. I met Dustin when he and my son were receivers on the Gunnison Mustang 8th grade football team a couple of falls ago. Great kid. Nice. Happy. A little shy but a look you in the eye and say hi type of kid. I feel great anguish for his parents and hopefully the progress continues to a full recovery.
Coaches and parents of other hockey programs in the league, including Durango, have sent their best wishes to the valley for Dustin. The Tippies have written a letter to the paper this week extolling the overwhelming support they have received in a time of need with their daughter.
In both cases the parents aren’t screaming for revenge or looking to blame. They are accepting of the community’s support and dealing with a nightmare.
We all can honor that.
Slow down a bit on the mountain. Especially around other skiers and riders. You may be the best rider on the hill but if you catch an edge, find a compression or a piece of ice, there are consequences if you screw up. According to the ski area clinic, there have been a huge number of collisions on the hill the last few weeks. Have fun but be respectful of other people sharing the same run.
Engage the kids of this community and appreciate the mountain-grown attitude of independence and respect most seem to carry with them. It is still a relatively small village at both ends of the valley.
And perhaps, whether you know him personally or not, take a minute to send a prayer or some positive energy to a good kid lying in a hospital bed in Grand Junction.