All stop signs are not created equal out here
The big red stop sign is more of a suggestion than something drivers can actually obey on some of these mountains roads.
You get a rental car with a sewing-machine engine and tires as bald as a baby’s butt and it’s a fishtail just to get out of a parking space, much less handle the ups and downs of the snow-covered mountain roads.
There’s this little thing called momentum when driving on snow and ice. You get stopped on even a gentle hill and there’s almost no way of getting going again without the back end taking off on a bootleg. It’s like driving a stickshift in San Francisco; get stopped at the wrong point on the wrong hill and good luck getting going again without rolling into the guy behind you.
Anyway, that is one kind of stop sign around here. But there was another one Thursday, almost right at the start of the third training run for Friday’s women’s downhill race. Great Britain’s Chemmy Alcott finished her run, batting leadoff, and Canada’s Britt Janyk was scheduled to start second.
Moments later, on the scoreboard, up went the big red stop sign. Uh-oh. That can’t be good news. It means the race has been stopped for any number of reasons, including a crash.
A handful of Canadian reporters, many of whom had just gotten off a conference call with John Kucera, who badly broke his leg in a spill here last Sunday, nervously began to wonder whether Janyk had gone down near the top of her run. There was no TV monitor and no information other than the stop sign.
A couple of minutes ticked by and we all turned anxiously to the helicopter, which idles nearby, ready to head up with the gurney to evacuate skiers who have damaged themselves.
Good news, though. The scoreboard went to green and soon after, Janyk posted an interval time. It was a false alarm. A little gate repair was required.
“I think Chemmy busted a gate,’’ Janyk said a couple of minutes later, after she had arrived at the bottom of the hill “I was held in the start.’’
Good thing we have one less stop sign around here to worry about.