Legend: An inexperienced skier is caught at the top of a run in desperate need of washroom facilities. Her attempts to unobtrusively relieve herself in the bushes at the side of the run lead to a high-speed, backwards Lady Godiva performance, broken limbs, and an embarrassing encounter in the hospital emergency room.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 1996]
Even if you aren't a skier, you'll be able to appreciate the humor of the slopes as written in this account by a New Orleans' paper.
A friend just got back from a holiday ski trip to Utah with the kind of story that warms the cockles of anybody's heart. Conditions were perfect. 12 below, no feeling in the toes, basic numbness all over, "tell me when we're having fun" kind of day.
One of the women in the group complained to her husband that she was in dire need of a restroom. He told her not to worry, that he was sure there was relief waiting at the top of the lift in the form of a powder room for female skiers in distress. He was wrong, of course, and the pain did not go
If you've ever had nature hit its panic button in you, then you know that a temperature of 12 below zero doesn't help matters. So, with time running out, the woman weighed her options.
Her husband, picking up on the intensity of the pain, suggested that since she was wearing an all-white ski outfit, she should go off in the woods. No one would even notice, he assured her. The white will provide more than adequate camouflage. So she headed for the tree line, began disrobing and proceeded to do her thing. If you've ever parked on the side of a slope, then you know there is a right way and wrong way to set up your skis so you don't move. Yup, you got it. She had them positioned the wrong way.
Steep slopes are not forgiving, even during embarrassing moments. Without warning, the woman found herself skiing backward, out-of-control, racing through the trees, somehow missing all of them, and into another slope. Her derriere and the reverse side were still bare, her pants down around her knees, and she was picking up speed all the while.
She continued on backwards, totally out-of-control, creating an unusual vista for the other skiers.
The woman skied, if you define that verb loosely, back under the lift and finally collided violently with a pylon. The bad news was that she broke her arm and was unable to pull up her ski pants. At long last her husband arrived, put an end to her nudie show, then went to the base of the mountain and summoned the ski patrol, who transported her to a hospital.
In the emergency room she was regrouping when a man with an obviously broken leg was put in the bed next to hers.
"So. how'd you break your leg?" she asked, making small talk.
"It was the darndest thing you ever saw," he said. "I was riding up this ski lift, and suddenly I couldn't believe my eyes. There was this crazy woman skiing backward out-of-control down the mountain with her bare bottom hanging out of her clothes and pants down around her knees."
"I leaned over to get a better look and I guess I didn't realize how far I'd moved. I fell out of the lift."
"So, how'd you break your arm?"
- This legend is told as having happened at a Utah ski resort, Pennsylvania's Silver Springs, Aspen, Vail, Switzerland, the Leksand slalom hill in Sweden, the Snowy Mountains resort in Australia, and the French Alps.
- The woman skier has at times been variously described as a stewardess, a Canadian, a Mexican or a Texan.
- Sometimes the man who catches an eyeful falls out of a ski lift; sometimes he skis into a tree.
- In most versions the woman meets and falls into conversation with the fellow with the broken leg at the hospital where they are both being treated, but occasionally she meets him on the plane home, where their plaster casts start the conversational ball rolling.
Origins: Versions of this story suddenly appeared on both sides of the Atlantic around the mid-1970's. Despite the above netlore claim of this appearing in a New Orleans paper, the incident is an
apocryphal one and never appeared as a news item in such a publication. Most likely it never happened anywhere.
The story succeeds as well as it does by provoking an unbidden yet powerfully humorous mental image. One sees in the mind's eye the unfortunate woman skiing bare-assed down the slopes and the man who catches sight of her so disconcerted by what he sees he runs into a tree.
Storytellers regale others with this yarn simply because the picture it provokes is undeniably appealing. Surprisingly, I've yet to encounter a version in which it's told as anything but an urban legend — I would have expected by now to have stumbled across a "joke" version in which there's no pretence about the participants being anything other than fictional. Yet I haven't. In every telling, the mishap is presented as having happened to real people. Likely it works better as a funny story that way.
Barbara "man, was that lady piste!" Mikkelson
Sightings: In an episode of The John Larroquette Show, the character Carly Watkins (Gigi Rice) explains how she got started in the prostitution business by claiming this incident had happened to her.
Last updated: 27 December 2004
Also told in:
- Healey, Phil and Rick Glanvill. Now! That's What I Call Urban Myths.
- London: Virgin Books, 1996. ISBN 0-86369-969-3 (pp. 157-158).
- The Big Book of Urban Legends.
- New York: Paradox Press, 1994. ISBN 1-56389-165-4 (p. 104).