Image from the National Ski Patrol – this is not Ansell. Or the telemarker, or the priest
“Can you see me?” Ansell Hawkins was asked. “Yes, I can,” was the answer, and now nearly a year to the day later, he explain. “Yes, I could see him – the most handsome telemarker bent over me.” Now before I continue, you can file this under the but-for-the-grace-of-god column. Personally every time I see a patroller rescuing someone, I always feel like that could be me – even more so as I write about the rescue. This story is also why you should support your ski patrollers.

Ansell’s own son was scared and freaked out, in a word terrified. There were tears, and the son wasn’t the one who’d fallen. No, that was Ansell. The two of them had cut across to a run; the son was leading the way. Then Ansell took the lead.

Then the problem came.

As he explains, “I was whipping down, passing my son and thinking about him, ‘You rule you little 12-year old Cambodian ripper.’ I turned back to wink at him (note to self, never wink whilst skiing). And in that moment, something caught my ski. I flipped on my back.”

Ansell thought he’d just get up, ski down to the lodge and rest a bit. No. He asked his son to help him up. Impossible. Blinding pain. Turns out Ansell fell on his L4 vertebra. His back was broken. There was no moving, not on his own skis. His son was calling for help, and a patroller was there miraculously, in moments. It was that telemarker, and another patroller soon appeared, whom Ansell says may or may not have been a pastor, which may or may not have been the patroller’s kind demeanor. They wrapped him in blankets and skied him down.

“They were great,” he recalls. “They answered every question and were the gentlest and nicest they could be. One of them even rode with me to the hospital.” Now, he says “I say hello to every single one of them every time I ski now.” And this is perhaps the biggest testimony to the patrollers. Ansell still skis. He still skis at Plattekill. And, he is a huge fan of the ski patrol. He is also happy to donate to the ski patrol this weekend… As should you.