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Open Features: Airborne

Ellie Braun-Haley could never have guessed where she would end up when she started down that Canadian ski slope.

Even as a cheerleader in high school I was not flexible enough to do the splits, but that day on the ski hill on one of my better tumbles I ended up in the splits. Well the day had just begun and things were sure to get better!

I was soon to discover these thoughts were a long way from reality.

It's strange that skiing did not come easy to me. My mother pointed out I had the athletic build, and since I was a dance and fitness instructor she commented, "You have the rhythm and the strength, so what is the problem?"

I told mother the truth, "I'm scared mom. I know all the moves and understand the strategy but I'm skiing mechanically, like a robot with programming and a stiff body to match. Perhaps I should stick to dancing."

Born and raised on the prairies of Alberta my first ski hill was in the Cypress Hills out of Medicine Hat, Alberta. I soon graduated to the many beautiful slopes of British Columbia. The scenery was magnificent but my skiing was slow in matching any of the grandeur around me.

The memory of that fateful day when I was finally raised to new heights was one I treasure and continue to enjoy sharing. We were on an easy-going slope and I was following my partner, he being a few meters ahead of me. He made a large spiraling curve and I followed him. Well I almost followed him. I didn't quite make the turn and soon I was air-born, flying off the run upward, into the trees. Instead of going down, I headed across the slope and the thrust had me flying through the air.

My ski partner, immediately realized I was missing and was awkwardly sidestepping back up the slope. It was while I was attempting to extricate myself from my dilemma that I heard his anxious call, "Ellie, where are you?"

"I'm here." I called out

"Where is here?" was his questioning response.

My skiing finale, abrupt and surprising had deposited me up in the branches of a tree. There I was wedged, a few meters (yards) above the snowline, with skis on either side of the trunk and me appearing to be an avid air-born tree hugger.

"I'm kinda treed," was my response. I looked at the sticky sap from the tree, spread across my beautiful new skiing outfit, surprised that both the outfit and my body seemed to have survived my flight and unusual landing.

It took me quite some time to figure out how to extract myself and get down out of the tree. It was during that descend that I seriously considered hanging up the ski boots and sticking to the dance floor.


Ellie writes short stories for a number of publications. A number of her pieces have appeared in the Chicken Soup For The Soul series.

You can read more of her stories here


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