Ohhhhh, let me count the times; but to date, my worst crash came at the 1996 U.S. Masters. This tournament followed a season in which I had won two professional events and, in the eyes of some, had “burst onto the scene.” The first couple of months of the 1996 season had not been good, but I was sure that I could turn it around, and the Masters would be the perfect place to do it. Waiting on the dock with four jumpers ahead of me, Jay Bennett walked me through the course, mentally preparing me for the task at hand. By the time I hit the water, I was quite confident that I was going to perform to a level that would not only turn my season around, but also perhaps regain the respect of my peers.
Well, this is how it went down. I was wide and made a nice strong turn for the ramp. As I got to the bottom I was a little early, but felt no reason whatsoever to hold back. As I made impact with the ramp, I stood up and kicked like a bull at a rodeo when they slip the knot. When I launched to about 15 feet off the top of the ramp, I felt the tail of my right ski tickling my left ear. I had dropped my tip so fast that I literally couldn't keep myself from spinning an almost completely laid-out front flip. Now, it's true I've taken my fair share of diggers, so I have a pretty good sense of where I am when I'm upside down … but not this time. When I landed the tail of my right ski bounced of my left butt cheek with such force that it flew another 60-70 feet in the air. After I regained my breath, I remember telling the boat judge, “I think I'm all right, but my ass might be broken.” The pain was agonizing.
I managed to jump again that day, but I wasn't even close to making the cut to the finals. As the day went on, the pain in my butt was getting worse by the minute. When I woke up the next day, I was actually sore to the touch on the front side of my hip region from bruising my butt all the way through. The worst part was that I had a nine-hour drive home the next day to Bennett's with a butt so sore I had to sit on a pillow on my right cheek so that the left cheek didn't touch!
And that's the day the jump spanked my rump.