On the Edge




On the Edge

It has all come to this. No turning back now, no room for doubt, no fear –– no place for mistakes. Years of preparation, visualizing my dream, of tenacious conditioning, practice, of sacrifice, of hope –– is finally culminating in this one moment in time.

I hear the winds whistle in the shell of my headgear, the snow crunch crisp and fresh underfoot as I step off the aerial tram and stride to the starting gate. My skis, waxed to perfection, are thrown over my right shoulder, both poles gripped in my left hand. I vibrate with nerves and pure, refined energy.

As I make the short walk I reflect, “over 90 miles per hour for 90 seconds, airborne –– hurtling down the mountain like a rocket, freefalling just at the edge of control, at the edge of disaster… at the edge of euphoria! I love this! I can do this, just don’t catch an edge!” I push that brief slip of negativity out of my head, and begin to visualize, while repeating, “tuck tight, knees flexed, eyes down the mountain, fearless… fly!”

I sit to tighten my boots and affix my skis. I hear the chatter of coaches and officials, the mantra-like self-talk of my competitors –– and the clamor of the crowds that collect along the course, gathered exuberantly dense at the bottom.

I begin to slowly tune all that into a background monotone buzz, then a quiet hum, squelching –– until finally, I tune it out altogether. I focus, dialing myself into my personal space, my place of vivid concentration, intense presence –– my zone.

Here I wait until my coach comes to lead me to the starting gate, where I check in with the race officials, and queue up. It seems just a blink of an eye and he comes, and I go –– go to what I believe will be victory, my time of destiny. I am ready!

Standing behind the next racer poised to start, I acutely envision the entire course, racing section by section, successfully making and re-making the run in my head –– the same one I’ve made many times in practice. I imagine the gate fly open, see myself push off, thrusting with all my might into that first steep drop, accelerating fiercely into the first turn, building a torrid pace, knifing down the mountain –– as if an apparition, a vapor, a blur… gone 90/90!

At last, alone in the gate, I see the mountain stretch out below me, the crystalline white falling and twisting –– down, down. This is it, it’s here; my dance with fate –– but this is no gamble. I am so totally ready for this –– ready to roar down the icy slope, surge across the finish line… ready to fly!

The starting tone begins to pulse. My mind links into the cadence, my body feels the rhythm. My vision grows sharp, my senses keen, my surroundings –– vibrant. Time is folding into slow motion, honing down to the long-awaited instant, the critical split-second. My legs are wound springs, my arms and shoulders are powerful pistons, my heart –– a thunderous locomotive. The brink is reached, then crossed. The gate swings away as I launch –– in one mighty explosion…

• • •

rob kistner © 2008


collage above entitled: “On the Edge” — by: rob kistner © 2008

• • •



~ by Image&VerseToo on March 28, 2008.

16 Responses to “On the Edge”

  1. Rob,

    I was holding my breath and I’m ready to fly away with you.
    I love the intensity of your words, its pulse stopping and then just make me feel soaring in the end.

    I wish you well.

    ~ Jeques

  2. Jeques –

    Thank you for your very kind words… 😉

    I am pleased this piece engaged you.

  3. A moment of being truly alive!

  4. looks like i was there. such tension and emotion well describe on this piece. gripping!

  5. This took me back to memories from back in January this year..First time skied :)..After lots of falling down, first time when you get it right..and the view from the top of the cliff is just too awesome 🙂

  6. i was holding my breath…

  7. Rambler =

    Wonderfully powerful experience. 😉

  8. Anthony –

    Thank you very much!

  9. Totomai –

    I’m glad this ‘grabbed’ you… 😉

  10. OMB –

    I’m pleased you were ‘caught up’ in this piece to that degree… 😉

  11. I like the lead up to the action you describe, very well done – I’ve always wondered what racers think about as they wait! Thanks for this inside look. 🙂

  12. Constance –

    That peak of readiness at the start of any type of racing event, is an adrenaline-gorged, hyper-aware, acutely-focused, and yet strangely calm moment – like no other moment.

    Best for the young and finely conditioned. 😉

  13. Captured my attention – breathless!

  14. Maybe you should finish MY story.

    Thank you for your support Rob.
    I believe your comment on my blog was confirmation to keep doing what I am doing.

    You fancy an Ale ole friend?

  15. Tumblewords –

    I’m pleased… 😉

  16. Steve –

    You’re doing just fine…

    You are welcome!

    From 1965 through 1985, I consumed enough single malt scotch to pickle an elephant. It was my go-juice while I was touring with my bands, but Type II diabetes, and a bad heart put a stop to that. Health demands I be a teetotaler these days.

    My wife thinks maybe I should take up drinking again. She says it might make me less cranky. I tell her, “I’ve lived long enough to have earned the right to be cranky!” 😉

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