Crack!

Dwayne yells, then Brady yells, and JB comes flying out of the woods toward Chad and me. All he says is “Dewey’s hurt, we need to get help!

The three of us take off down the park to find anyone who could help. We reach the bottom of the park and the park staff shed. We try and communicate to them that our friend is hurt but everything was getting lost in the translation. Finally one of them pulled out a walkie-talkie and said “Ranger Ranger! A few minutes later we were on a lift with a Japanese ranger, (ski patrol). During the ride up I was trying to communicate to someone at the ranger headquarters where Dwayne was but it was impossible because I don’t speak Japanese. All we really got squared away was that they would meet us at the top of the lift and we would take them to our fallen friend.

At the top of the lift there were three other rangers waiting. We all take off toward the woods. The traverse took a few minutes because we were so far off the regular trail. We went over one ridge and then over another. Finally we see him. I realize right then that this situation was much worse than I thought. There he was, pinned and half submerged in a tree well. He was laying sideways, hip first with Brady B. sitting with him. Brady gives me one look and shakes his head. I know then that this shit is serious.

Then Dwayne realizes that I am standing over him. He has been pinned into this tree for over a half and hour now. He locks eyes with me and I can see the anguish. I tell him, “Dewey, We are getting you the f—k outta here!

Moments later the cavalry arrive, JB, Chad, Nova, and about five more rangers slide down. Everyone is standing around Dwayne telling him that he’s ok and everything is going to be fine. That was the craziest thing about it to me. He was talking back to us saying the same thing. How could someone in so much pain be so coherent?

OK, when someone is usually hurt, you call ski patrol. They come fairly quickly and tell you to move away and that the situation is under control. They handle everything and you meet your friend later at the hospital with his board and maybe a cold beer. End of story.

When our cavalry showed up, we had a 100% language barrier. We could only use hand signals to communicate. Now try to imagine communicating in hand signals that your friends Femur is broken in two and his hip probably isn’t doing so well either. And every time he breathes, let alone moves he is in excruciating pain. It is harder than you think.

First things first, we had to get him unstuck and onto a ski patrol sled. Impossible without excruciating pain and risking further injury. But what can I say? We were up shit creek without a paddle. Dewey could be bleeding and we were a long ways from the bottom. He had to be moved and now was the time. We dug snow out from under him where we could and slid this Japanese inflatable blanket under him. It was definitely becoming clear that these Rangers had not dealt with too many rescues of this magnitude. It was also clear that this was going to have to be a rescue lead by Team Academy.

The trip was crazy from the get go. Nova had just won the Vans Cup in Tahoe and was now rich. Neither Chad nor myself new if he was actually going to make this flight. His phone was dead so communication was out of the question. He was supposed to fly in around 9:00 p.m. and be picked up by our friend Redness. But I got a call a little after 12:00 a.m. from Redness, saying that he never found him. Considering that our flight was that morning at 8:00 a.m. and Nova’s passport was in Breckenridge, well, things looked doubtful.

It came all the way down to the wire. Chad and I are standing in front of our gate wondering if we should wait or not when out of nowhere, a disheveled Mike Casanova strolls over. A couple of high fives later and we were on board flight 709 with non stop service to LAX.

As it turns out, Nova flew back to Denver the previous night around 11:00 p. and took a cab to Redness’ house. There he borrowed a car and drove to Breckenridge. Picked up what he needed and headed straight back down to Denver. Woke up his good friend and bummed a ride back to the airport. That’s dedication.

When we arrived at LAX we got some lunch and waited by our next gate. We were supposed to meet up with Dwayne and JB (VP and Marketing Director for Academy). But they were nowhere to be found. I give them a call and they said it’s going to be a close one but they were sure they would be on that plane to Tokyo. It came down to the wire again and finally we decided we couldn’t wait anymore and boarded the plane. After most of the plane was seated with seatbelts fastened I look up the aisle and here they are. “I told you we would make it Dwayne said.

And like Strange Brew, we took off. The eleven-hour flight wasn’t too bad mainly in part to the complimentary beverages and good company. It was rare for all of us to be together and not be at some trade show. Chad was passed out for the majority of the flight due to some Lunesta. (Like Tylenol p.m. only stronger) I have never seen anyone sleep in that position with his face on the food tray for that long. But that’s Chad. Always doing things I have never seen before.

We arrived in Narrita Intl. at night and passed through customs like a breeze. Our man Toru from first MMT was waiting for us at the baggage claim. Toru has been our guide in Japan for the last few years. We make our way from the airport to Tokyo and finally check into our hotel room. We just chuck our gear in our rooms and we are back in the van headed to get some food. Takeeshi and Toru took us to this cool restaurant in the Asahi Headquarters building. The place had good food and the beer was the freshest I had tasted in years. The beer was so fresh that I swallowed up about seven in no time.

The next thing I knew it was morning and we had a few hours to kill before we started our shop tour. We were staying in Askusa right by these really cool temples and tourist market. We ate some breakfast, shot some photos and picked up some souvenirs before heading back to the hotel. We met Toru and we were headed north to Altz Bandai. On our four-hour drive north we stopped at three different shops. We would sign posters, T-shirts and anything else they could think of. We mainly just watched Casanova draw things all day. That boy’s got talent. At our last shop we stopped at they had a sick mini ramp. It was three feet wide and three feet tall with a rope net that surrounded the whole thing. It was cool because it was so tech. It was so skinny with a net hanging over the edges. Chad almost killed himself when he hung up on the net during a blunt to fakie. Luckily it sent him flying backwards into the net. The net broke his fall but he also broke the net. And on that note, we bid our farewells and left for the resort.

Altz Bandai is a pretty big place and they were hosting Slopestyle. They had a really big snow year early but no new snow for the last three weeks so the conditions weren’t that amazing. It was kind of a powder, packed powder soup. We still had a fun time just shredding with each other. Without much to do we were just finding different stuff to jib and butter. It’s pretty fun just following Chad and Nova down the hill.

The next few days were more of the same. Shredding during the day with a little practice on the course, and hanging out in the piano lounge at night. The night before the contest started, the Slopestyle people through a welcome party. It was so much fun because not only were there free food and drink but they brought in people to perform traditional customs. First there was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. It was a traditional drumming club from a nearby town. There were about twelve little kids banging away on these huge drums. JB’s favorite guy must have been about five years old and he was the most serious. He had perfect rhythm on a drum the size of himself and played for about a half an hour. Next was this little old lady band. I am not sure what to call it but sounded very traditional and very old. Brady did a very good impression of it at least once a day for the remainder of the trip. Following the band was an interactive custom. We made Mochi (kind of like rice ice cream that isn’t sweet or cold, weird?) They took a handful of visiting shreds, armed them with giant wooden hammers and let them have at it. Swinging wildly at a ball of rice. I gave it a couple swings myself and it was pretty fun. Maybe it was the sake or maybe it was that little old lady singing but I sure had a lot of fun that night.

The next morning we had a couple hours to shred around before the contest started. We decide to head back to our favorite part of the mountain. It happened to a few chairlifts back. We had this fun run where we would start at the top, traverse a few ridges over in the woods and ride this gully down to the top of the park. Then rip through the park and pipe and then back to the chair again. On our fourth lap it happened.

Crack!

One, two, three! We all lifted together as gently as we could but I don’t think it helped Dewey. He belted out this warrior cry that Conan himself would have been proud of. But the hardest part was over. He was out from that tree well and on a patrol sled. He definitely wasn’t any more comfortable but we were one major step closer to getting him out of there. Next we secured him to the sled, being careful not to strap anything close to his right leg, All the while he is still explaining things to us. Like how to do things better for him. If that had been me out there; I would have been swinging at people left and right. Yet here is Dewey taking the time to explain things to me like an engineer.

Next came the exit strategy. Chad mapped us out a plan to get him back to the run. It was pretty burly because the terrain was so steep and there were so many trees. Chad gave orders to start digging a trench for the sled to go completely cross-hill until we got to the gully. At the gully the trees thinned out. Once the trench was good enough we decided to move him. We gave Dewey something to put in his mouth so he could bite down when the pain came. We started this human chain where we would slide him down to the next guy and to the next guy. Then the first guy would get up and scramble down to the end of the line. This scrambling went on for about fifteen minutes across this side hill in between trees until we reached the gully.

At this point it had been about and hour and a half and we were worried that he might be losing blood. We decided to split. Chad would race to the other side of the mountain to find Toru so we could breach the language barrier. Brady would go back to the scene of the accident and retrieve all the left over belongings and meet us at the bottom. JB, Nova and myself would accompany Dewey and the Rangers to the halfway point of the mountain. There we met a snowmobile and loaded him, sled and all up onto the trailer. JB rode on the back of the snowmobile. Nova and myself rode next to the whole operation hanging on with one hand on the trailer and the other hand on the snowmobile. You see the trailer hitch would not lock so we had to keep them together.

When we finally reached the bottom, Chad and Toru were waiting for us along with an ambulance. We loaded him up with JB and Toru. And off they went sirens and all.

After that trauma, no one wanted to snowboard, let alone compete in a rail contest. But after a little lunch we decided to “Do it for Dewey! Nova, Chad, Brady and myself went out there armed with a few beers and a video camera. A few hours later we were standing next to the awards platform cheering on Nova to accept the best trick award. It was awesome, they loved him over there. He had to sign autographs for about an hour after the contest had ended. He actually had his own line. But Nova is a modthe size of himself and played for about a half an hour. Next was this little old lady band. I am not sure what to call it but sounded very traditional and very old. Brady did a very good impression of it at least once a day for the remainder of the trip. Following the band was an interactive custom. We made Mochi (kind of like rice ice cream that isn’t sweet or cold, weird?) They took a handful of visiting shreds, armed them with giant wooden hammers and let them have at it. Swinging wildly at a ball of rice. I gave it a couple swings myself and it was pretty fun. Maybe it was the sake or maybe it was that little old lady singing but I sure had a lot of fun that night.

The next morning we had a couple hours to shred around before the contest started. We decide to head back to our favorite part of the mountain. It happened to a few chairlifts back. We had this fun run where we would start at the top, traverse a few ridges over in the woods and ride this gully down to the top of the park. Then rip through the park and pipe and then back to the chair again. On our fourth lap it happened.

Crack!

One, two, three! We all lifted together as gently as we could but I don’t think it helped Dewey. He belted out this warrior cry that Conan himself would have been proud of. But the hardest part was over. He was out from that tree well and on a patrol sled. He definitely wasn’t any more comfortable but we were one major step closer to getting him out of there. Next we secured him to the sled, being careful not to strap anything close to his right leg, All the while he is still explaining things to us. Like how to do things better for him. If that had been me out there; I would have been swinging at people left and right. Yet here is Dewey taking the time to explain things to me like an engineer.

Next came the exit strategy. Chad mapped us out a plan to get him back to the run. It was pretty burly because the terrain was so steep and there were so many trees. Chad gave orders to start digging a trench for the sled to go completely cross-hill until we got to the gully. At the gully the trees thinned out. Once the trench was good enough we decided to move him. We gave Dewey something to put in his mouth so he could bite down when the pain came. We started this human chain where we would slide him down to the next guy and to the next guy. Then the first guy would get up and scramble down to the end of the line. This scrambling went on for about fifteen minutes across this side hill in between trees until we reached the gully.

At this point it had been about and hour and a half and we were worried that he might be losing blood. We decided to split. Chad would race to the other side of the mountain to find Toru so we could breach the language barrier. Brady would go back to the scene of the accident and retrieve all the left over belongings and meet us at the bottom. JB, Nova and myself would accompany Dewey and the Rangers to the halfway point of the mountain. There we met a snowmobile and loaded him, sled and all up onto the trailer. JB rode on the back of the snowmobile. Nova and myself rode next to the whole operation hanging on with one hand on the trailer and the other hand on the snowmobile. You see the trailer hitch would not lock so we had to keep them together.

When we finally reached the bottom, Chad and Toru were waiting for us along with an ambulance. We loaded him up with JB and Toru. And off they went sirens and all.

After that trauma, no one wanted to snowboard, let alone compete in a rail contest. But after a little lunch we decided to “Do it for Dewey! Nova, Chad, Brady and myself went out there armed with a few beers and a video camera. A few hours later we were standing next to the awards platform cheering on Nova to accept the best trick award. It was awesome, they loved him over there. He had to sign autographs for about an hour after the contest had ended. He actually had his own line. But Nova is a modest guy so he probably wouldn’t tell you that.

Later that night JB was back with news of Dwayne. He compound fractured his Femur and chipped his pelvis. He was going to have to have surgery but the prognosis looked good. Things could have gone a lot worse out there. The bottom line was that we were going to get our buddy back and in one piece. They said he would have to stay for at least another week to recover enough to make the flight home.

The next day we got up and went to the slopestyle contest. The weather had started to turn and it had begun to snow hard. It snowed about five inches, which made the jumps pretty hard to clear. Our guys did well but no money. We ended up huddled around a gas heater in the Academy tent for a few hours while we signed posters and gave away buttons. The contest ended and we made it to the van. Slapped high fives to all our new Japanese friends and we were out. We were headed straight for the hospital.

When we arrived to Dwayne’s room, he was in good spirits. He was in traction and in good spirits! That is almost a contradiction, but he was happy to see us and speak English. We bombarded him with gifts from the local convenience store. Everything from beef jerky, skittlebops and magazines. We got him some new headphones, a watch so he wouldn’t go crazy and enough gum to last a week. We stayed with him for a little more than hour before we had to go. He waved us good by and told us not to worry. Dwayne Pacha is one of the most positive people I have ever met. I would have probably stolen the car keys and stranded everyone with me if it were me lying in that bed.

From there we headed back to our hotel in Tokyo. Everyone was pretty well spent from the trip by this time so we pretty much passed out. In the morning we got up early and hopped a few subways to Shibuya for some last minute shopping. I was a little worried that we wouldn’t make it back to our hotel to meet our ride to the airport. But we had world traveler Chad O. to guide us. After picking up a few gifts and a couple more stories we were on our way to the airport.

We said farewell to our gracious hosts at First MMT and told them thanks for everything. They were sending someone up to look after Dwayne while he was in the hospital. That’s hospitality. Besides the accident it was a really great trip to Japan.

Viva Japan! modest guy so he probably wouldn’t tell you that.

Later that night JB was back with news of Dwayne. He compound fractured his Femur and chipped his pelvis. He was going to have to have surgery but the prognosis looked good. Things could have gone a lot worse out there. The bottom line was that we were going to get our buddy back and in one piece. They said he would have to stay for at least another week to recover enough to make the flight home.

The next day we got up and went to the slopestyle contest. The weather had started to turn and it had begun to snow hard. It snowed about five inches, which made the jumps pretty hard to clear. Our guys did well but no money. We ended up huddled around a gas heater in the Academy tent for a few hours while we signed posters and gave away buttons. The contest ended and we made it to the van. Slapped high fives to all our new Japanese friends and we were out. We were headed straight for the hospital.

When we arrived to Dwayne’s room, he was in good spirits. He was in traction and in good spirits! That is almost a contradiction, but he was happy to see us and speak English. We bombarded him with gifts from the local convenience store. Everything from beef jerky, skittlebops and magazines. We got him some new headphones, a watch so he wouldn’t go crazy and enough gum to last a week. We stayed with him for a little more than hour before we had to go. He waved us good by and told us not to worry. Dwayne Pacha is one of the most positive people I have ever met. I would have probably stolen the car keys and stranded everyone with me if it were me lying in that bed.

FFrom there we headed back to our hotel in Tokyo. Everyone was pretty well spent from the trip by this time so we pretty much passed out. In the morning we got up early and hopped a few subways to Shibuya for some last minute shopping. I was a little worried that we wouldn’t make it back to our hotel to meet our ride to the airport. But we had world traveler Chad O. to guide us. After picking up a few gifts and a couple more stories we were on our way to the airport.

We said farewell to our gracious hosts at First MMT and told them thanks for everything. They were sending someone up to look after Dwayne while he was in the hospital. That’s hospitality. Besides the accident it was a really great trip to Japan.

Viva Japan!