“… Don Aase…told me of a dream he’d had several times. It had a baseball context, but unlike mine, there was nothing cryptic about it. In Don’s dream, he was on the mound when a scorching line drive was hit right at his head. Just then, he would invariably sit bolt upright in bed, throw his arms in front of his face, and let out a bloodcurdling shriek.”
I’ve had nightmares of hitting the side of the ramp after I cut too late. I have gone over the surface of the ramp making very small mistakes, flying ass end over bandbox and crashing on my back or sides several times. I have seen a fellow competitor flying through the air, arms and legs akimbo, after making the tiniest of errors. I watched him eat his ski as it hit his mouth the instant he was crashing against the water.
I read that passage from Miller’s book last night. As soon as I had finished it, I had to put the book down as I immediately came down with a severe case of heebie-jeebies thinking about that fastball, and then all those jump crashes. It takes a very long time to learn an athletic skill such as hitting a baseball or jumping for distance to the point where you just do it without thinking. There is no time to ‘think’, only do. There are less than a couple of seconds from the time one starts his cut to the jump to the time one actually makes contact with the ramp. Every bone and muscle in your body needs to know what to do without thinking about it. Hitting a baseball takes the same discipline. A batter has a fraction of a second to decide whether to swing, stay, or duck once the pitcher releases the ball.
I crashed so hard one time that I ended up spending two weeks in the hospital with a pair of collapsed lungs, but as soon as I was able, I went right back to jumping the next year. Fear was not known to me back then. Respect, yes, but not fear. Unfortunately for my friend and fellow competitor, fear did become of him, as he no longer jumped after his crash.