Continued from last week’s blog entitled "How Does a Girl Who Is Afraid of Heights Start a Risky Sport Like Aerial Skiing? Part I"
…I should have known by the look on his face that I was in store for something terrifying.
“Are you ready for a double?”
I looked toward the towering double jump ramp and felt my mouth go dry. I turned back to the head coach, gave a nervous little laugh and grabbed my skis, planning to head to the small, comfortable, safe jump.
“I wasn’t kidding, Nikki. Let’s go.”
Well, I knew I couldn’t let down the national team coach, so I nervously made my way over to the stairs of the double jump. I clumped up the seventy-two steps and stood atop the platform that led to a strip of white plastic and ended in a ten-foot-tall wall. And I have to say, it really does look like a wall when you’re gazing at it from the top!
My hands were sweating, my stomach was in my throat and I didn’t know if my legs were going to stop shaking long enough to actually get me off this jump. It’s funny, in those moments of sheer terror, how you start to imagine all the things that could go wrong. I could fall on the inrun. Have my legs give out, and hit the jump. Go off the side of the ramp and miss the pool…Or I might not make it all the way around for two flips, and land on my back or head! Through my years as an aerial skier, I actually saw all these things happen.
As I stood up there that first time, debating if I should go shooting down the ramp and into space, I looked around the water ramp facility and noticed that all the other athletes had stopped what they were doing. I would later learn that this was a sort of tradition: watch to see if the rookie would actually take the plunge. Well, luckily for me and my future career, my ego was much bigger than my brain. I wasn’t going to take the walk of shame back down the stairs.
I turned my skis down the steep inrun, put my arms out for stability and went speeding at thirty-five miles per hour toward this intimidating jump.