I am originally from Costa Rica, a tropical country. The lowest temperatures that we might hit are around 15 or 20 degree Celsius, which explains why I had never seen the snow before I came to the U.S. The first time that I saw snow I freaked out! It is so much fun at the beginning, but the low temperatures and slippery surfaces become really annoying after five months.
I always wanted to practice snowboarding and after I got here and saw the snow for the first time, it became a goal for me. However, since the season had begun, I had no time to go, so I thought that I wasn’t going be able to do it this winter, so I just forgot about it and moved on. However, one day a friend of mine called me and told me that he wanted to plan a trip to the mountains with me and some other friends. I thought, “This is it, it’s finally happening.” Dumb me.
We planned it and one week before classes started, we were driving to the mountain. Something fun that happened on our way is that we stopped and tried to put the chains on the car’s wheels. None of us knew how to do it properly, not even the driver (he is Hawaiian, so he was excused). We spent almost three hours trying to properly put those chains on and at the end we had to take them off because a service guy told us that they were too big, and that it wasn’t heavily snowing in the place that we were heading.
In the end we made it there at noon and we started snowboarding immediately. I used to surf back at home and I use to longboard to college on the daily basis. Hence, I thought that this was going to be easy for me to learn how to snowboard, but it was more difficult than I thought.
The process of learning was fun. I fell a million times throughout the day, but I could notice a nice improvement after each try. By night, I was able to manage what they call a “medium level” hill without falling. They were closing at 9 p.m. and we were having so much fun, so we were going to stay as late as possible.
By 7 p.m., my friend came up with this genius idea; He told me “let’s race.” In that situation, I had to consider that I was still learning, that we were far from home and that it was nighttime. Yet, my brain ignored that information, so I jumped straight to a stupidly-enthusiastic answer: “let’s do it.”
I was going down the middle of the hill, faster than any human should. (It actually wasn’t that fast, my friend could easily double my speed, but he used to snowboard often back in Japan, his home country). At a certain point, the front of my snowboard got stuck in a hole. I lost control, and the momentum of my body brought my face straight to the ground. I landed on my shoulder, breaking my collarbone. That day I learned that you can actually hear what a bone sounds like when it breaks. I unsuccessfully tried to stand several times, so I just stayed facing the snow for 45 minutes, until a snowmobile got there and brought me down the hill. The good part of the story: at least I got a free ride on a snow vehicle.
They took me to the nursing room where they immediately advised me to go to an actual hospital, which I did. At the hospital, they took x-rays and they told me that my bone was broken, which I already knew. They told me to go home and schedule an appointment with a specialist. It was Friday, so I had to wait three days for that to happen.
After a week and a couple of visits to the specialist, I was having surgery. They needed to put a metal plate in and screw it to the bone. Now I am some sort of a cyborg.
I got the surgery around three weeks ago. It has been a fast and smooth recovery process. Two days after the surgery I was taking my first class at college; it was rough to carry my books, and I wasn’t able to use my arm, but it didn’t stop me from starting my semester as usual.
Jefferson Phillips from Costa Rica is studying computer science at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada.