Two rivals take to the slopes in a winner-takes-all contest.
The prompt was a picture of three snowboarders emerging from a helicopter atop a snow covered summit. The sky behind them is purest blue.
Pieste de Résistance
Cain Vincent: Ruler of the slopes.
Cain loved his life. Always a natural on the snow, he’d taken a position as a snowboarding coach in the Swiss resort of Verbier. Most days were spent getting up close and personal with as many aspiring ski-bunnies as possible, whilst pretending to teach the whole class of beginners. None of the objects of his affection seemed to mind the extra attention lavished on them by the tanned and handsome expert. Many even joined him for ‘extra tuition’ in his chalet’s Jacuzzi. Life couldn’t get much sweeter.
His only regret; that he never made it as a full-fledged professional. It had proven far easier to forgo the long hours of pain and practice involved. Instead, Cain acted like he was the resort’s resident pro, show boating for the tourists in between teaching them how to ride the ski tows or make turns. He could only show off because most of the real pros were out in the surrounding off-piste sections the resort is so famous for.
Cain was happy with his position; a big fish in a small, icy, pond.
That was until a new contest was announced, filling the resort with a buzz of anticipation. The contest was for amateurs, but boasted big-name backing. The prize list included a helicopter-drop tour of the best known, hard to reach peaks and, best of all, a year’s professional contract with Palmer Snowboards. Cain had to enter.
The arrival of an old nemesis fuelled Cain’s determination. Brett Butler, a rival coach, who quit to focus on his own skills, rather than teaching the basics to beginners. How Cain laughed upon hearing of Brett’s financial struggles in the intervening years. Brett was forced to work long hours in the summer months, and nights in the bars in town during the season, in order to pay for trips to contests, lift passes, equipment, and living costs. All this showed Cain that his decision was right all along. He’d choose splashing and frolicking with naked chalet girls to scraping enough money together to make it to a contest in Germany, only to lose it in the final run. The best part was Cain had always been the more naturally gifted boarder, easily outshining Brett on the piste.
Cain glided down the course, performing the tricks honed to perfection over the years. He stopped at the bottom and turned to watch Brett attempting again and again to land a 720 Melon Grab over the biggest jump on the course. Cain couldn’t help laughing as Brett bounced and tumbled down the landing slope one run after another. I’m not staying out in the cold to watch this Muppet, Cain thought, as he slid the rest of the way down the hill and headed for the nearest bar to sit in front of a blazing fire.
As darkness drew in Brett appeared in the bar. He limped to a vacant barstool. Cain immediately swaggered over.
“Ah, Bretty Boy,” he called, “Not serving the drinks tonight?”
“Not tonight”, Brett replied, sounding annoyingly unflustered by the remark. “Good job too, I can barely walk after today’s practice!”
“Is that what you call it? Well, I’d call it crashing and burning, if it wasn’t too cold to burn out there!” Cain chuckled at his own joke.
“Well, I’d call it practice, yeah. You should really practice your jokes. You still doing the same moves you always have?”
“Yup, I’ve got the lot, Bretty Boy. Dialled to perfection.”
“Good for you. What are you drinking?”
“What’s that Bretty? You get staff discount here?”
“Nope, jus’ thought we could be civilised, we’re not business rivals anymore, after all.”
“Interesting, you seem to have forgotten the little matter of the contest. Won’t we be rivals again then?”
“I guess, but that’s just for fun, and it’s a few days away.”
“Ok, I’ll have a double vodka and lime,” Cain said, whilst thinking, You really are a fool.
The morning of the contest arrived. Cain was confident; he’d gone through his run time and time again in practice - landing every section with barely a flutter. Added to that, he had watched Brett essentially free-falling down the course. Brett persisted in trying to learn bigger and bigger tricks over each obstacle, never seeming happy with what he’d already done. Although, Cain was loathed to admit it, Brett might have a decent run if he stopped going hell-for-leather the whole time.
Cain pictured the run in his head one last time, and climbed the start ramp. He flowed down the hill; style and grace were his in abundance. Match that, Bretty boy, he thought.
He turned to watch Brett on the big screen, but it wasn’t Brett, it looked like they were running some video of a professional rider while they waited for the next contestant. The run on screen was flawless, fluid and fast. Each jump was higher than the last and was followed by a comet’s tail of glistening, white powder.
Cain glanced from the screen to the finish area as the mysterious rider finished his run. Who was this guy? One thing was for sure, neither he nor Brett had a hope of winning in the face of this demon of the slopes. For some reason the guy seemed to be headed in Cain’s direction. The hat and goggles were removed to reveal Brett’s smiling face.
Cain was flabbergasted, “What the hell? That can’t be you I just watched on the jumbotron! They must have gotten crossed signals or something!”
A replay of the rider’s final airs played on the big screen, Brett turned to look, “No, that’s me. Can’t you tell?”
“No way, I watched you all week in practice. You landed on your ass more often than the board!”
“Oh, that. I rode the whole week switch, for a bet with a friend. Obviously, I couldn’t afford to do that for the contest itself though.”
The scoreboard declared Brett’s Victory.
Word Count: 995
Author’s note: I’ve only been snowboarding once, but I know many of the terms from my years of skateboarding, mountain biking and BMX. I’d like to apologise to any real snowboarders if I have made their sport sound cheesy at all, and I’d like to offer a brief glossary for the rest of you:
720 Melon Grab: This is an aerial manoeuvre. The 720 refers to a spin of 720 degrees on a horizontal plane, or two full rotations. A Melon Grab is when the rider grabs the toe edge of the board with their back (uphill) hand.
Switch: Is essentially riding in your non-natural direction. For most sports you will have a comfortable stance, a best foot forward, switch is the opposite of this. It makes things a lot harder. Think of a right-handed boxer fighting with a south-paw stance, that’s kinda what it’s like, ish.