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A quest for a new knee?

A quest for a new knee?

BY SAM BAUMAN

Several years ago I did a lawn sale crash while escorting representatives of the International Ski Club des Journalists around Tahoe. I suffered a deep cut from a ski edge right over the kneecap. The hospital (not named to protect the innocent) sewed me up and after X-rays said no damage to the knee.

That turned out not to be true; the knee was knocked out of alignment and the meniscus gradually wore away. Arthroscopic surgery by expert orthopedic surgeon Dr. Michael Edmunds at the Tahoe Fracture Clinic removed a flap and smoothed the femur and fibia. Painful, yet, but I could hike and ski again.

Last fall Edmonds looked at the knee again and advised that a new joint was going to be needed. That’s a complex and very painful operation with physical therapy lasting months or even a year. I opted to wait until this spring, particularly when he explained that skiing wasn’t painful because it involved lateral rather than fore and aft movements. I even tried some very costly injections with a drug made from rooster cockscombs. Didn’t seem to make any difference.

Now I ski wearing an elaborate brace, thigh to calf. Seems to help and I ski about as well as ever, except that I don’t do the bumps or double blacks, partly because of age and partly because of the possible stress on the knee.

Then a friend sent me a clipping from the Los Angeles Times (where I used to work the foreign desk) by a women reporter detailing her experience with a dreaded ACL sprain. This is the most common major injury in skiing (snowboarders suffers most of their injuries to the wrist and upper bodies).

Her story raised anew my worries about the knee replacement. It took her months of therapy, hard work, a great deal of pain before she was able to largely escape the continuous pain. And a friend recently had a knee joint replacement and a year later he is still hurting and using a cane.

I recall well the arthroscopic surgery I had and the pain associated with it (I foolishly passed up the offer of pain pills), and that was just a tiny cut and repair. I was skiing within three weeks of the arthroscopic treatment.

And now as the best skiing (and boarding) of the year is here with spring, I hope to hit the slopes three days a week as long as the snow lasts. With the exception of the first day of the season when I actually fell six times making three simple blue runs, more times that I usually fall in a whole season, it’s been fun as usual, getting the edges into a carve and skiing faster than I should. The thrill is still there.

But now what? After the season ends, get a new knee? Or just keep on walking as the Great Buddha said on his death bed? After all, when hiking it only hurts when going downhill. And I don’t know of any slope that you just go uphill. Stay tuned.

SOMETHING NEW

The first ever Lake Tahoe Bikeboard Race will be held Sunday at Diamond Peak. There will be a Bikeboard Parallel Slalom Men, Women (14 years and older) and Junior race (6 through 13 years of age), time to be determined.

The first place prize is a $648 Bikeboard Snow plus more prizes. Feel free to demo a Bikeboard all day Saturday before the race, and racers can use one free of charge for the race. The registration fee is $20). See http://www.diamondpeak.com/news_events. Space is limited. Call 832-1177.

DUMMIES AT WORK

Mt. Rose will host it’s annual Dummy Downhill Saturday April 5. Dummy entries receive four free lift tickets with a legitimate entry; here are rough guidelines:

• 150-pound weight limit

• PG-13 rating (keep it fairly clean)

• No garbage (engine blocks, transmissions, appliances will be denied)

• Must be tow-able (dummy has to survive being dragged up the hill)

And enjoy some fantastic spring skiing as well.

The Rose Easter Egg Hunt (on snow) is Sunday at the main lodge at 12:15 near the Show-Off Run. Kids ages 3 thorough 11 are encouraged to join in on the fun.

SQUAW DEAL

With Squaw’s Spring Pass, skiers and riders can enjoy spring skiing Capital for $179; Spring Pass purchases count towards the purchase of any full adult, youth or senior 2008/2009 season pass. The Spring Pass is valid all week starting March 30, and is on sale now.

Spring Passholders get free use of the Swimming Lagoon and Spa at High Camp. Squaw is scheduled to remain open into May, conditions permitting.

Please note that the Spring Pass and all other season passes will be valid for FREE use of the Swimming Lagoon & Spa effective March 30 (these facilities are scheduled to open on March 15 but are not free at that time).

See http://www.squaw.com or call (530) 583-6955.

MORE EASTER EGGS OUT THERE

Northstar-at-Tahoe celebrates Easter with an egg hunt Sunday, 11 a.m. at the Village Overlook above the ice skating rink. And, for a real challenge, guests can participate in a raw egg toss at 3:30 p.m. with prizes awarded to the winners.

The Village at Squaw Valley pulls out all the stops with a free 1,000-egg Easter Egg Hunt Sunday. Those that are lucky enough to find the Golden Egg win a Children’s Season Pass to Squaw. Look for the Easter Bunny between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. in the Village.

At Homewood Mountain Resort It’s all about the kids at Homewood, Sunday when the resort hosts its annual Children’s Easter Egg Hunt at 11:30 a.m. at the South Lodge, when kids hunt for eggs filled with candy and other goodies.

Alpine Meadows hosts an event for all ages Sunday as participants hunt for eggs filled with candy and prizes, including the Golden Egg holding a 2008/2009 adult midweek season pass.

The Mr. Rose Easter Egg Hunt (on snow) is Sunday at the main lodge at 12:15 near the Show-Off Run. Kids ages 3 through 11 are encouraged to join in on the fun.

MAMMOTH DISCOUNTS

From March 30 to April 20, Mammoth Mountain is showcasing its legendary spring conditions at discounted spring rates. Lift tickets for $64 with advance purchase (a savings of $15) and lift and lodging packages starting at only $129 per person, per night. One hundred percent of terrain will be open with all chairlifts in full-operation. Come see why the world’s top skiers and snowboarders flock to Mammoth for spring training. Call (800) Mammoth or visit MammothMountain.com.

VAIL AND MORE

Vail Resorts, is offering the Epic Season Pass, a new unlimited, unrestricted season pass that’s valid for the entire 2008-2009 ski and snowboard season at five of the top-rated resorts in the world: Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Heavenly, all for an initial price of $579.

It offers skiing and riding across five world-class mountain resorts with 17,400 acres of terrain, 128 chairlifts and 722 trails, for each moment of the season.

The Epic Season Pass is priced initially at $579 for adults and $279 for children ages 5-12. The Epic Season Pass will be valid for the 2008-2009 ski season and will only be available for purchase through Nov. 15, 2008. The Epic Season Pass will earn points in the Company’s PEAKS loyalty programs and is non-transferable and non-refundable.

Visit http://www.epicpass.com.

• Contact Sam Bauman at 881-1236 or Sbauman@nevadaappeal.com.