A&E » Arts

Grudge Match 2010



He laughed at danger once, now Pete Crutchfield is laughing all the way to the ultimate rematch

Who: Pete Crutchfield, Charlie Viracola & Dylan Rhymer

What: Comedy Performance benefit

Where: Garibaldi Lift Co. (GLC)

When: Tuesday, April 13

Tickets: $15

Defining the soul of Whistler is a subjective undertaking, but I’d like to step up and put an offer on the table: injury comebacks.

The exceptional, determined individuals who refuse to let any injury – no matter how life altering – stand in their way.

Ask anyone around these parts and I’ll bet you 10 to one they can name a fellow local who has broken his or her back! Query further and you’ll most likely find most of the broken are not only still walking around, but have resumed ski touring, snowmobiling, hitting airs and dropping in, maybe not to the same extent as before, but to an extent that still warrants tourists reaching for their cameras.

Trust me. My roommate is one of them.

In other locales injuries are life altering in a different fashion. A twisted knee, broken ankle, or cracked vertebrae can mean game over. True Whistler folk, may be slowed down temporarily, but eventually they’ll find the ways and the means to speed up again.

That’s Pete Crutchfield’s story, anyway.

Flashback eight years ago. April 21, 1996. Local bartender/ski bum Crutchfield dropped into a steep chute on Whistler Mountain, took six turns, and then has to rely on the accounts of observers to finish the story.

Caught an edge, ligaments tore in his knee. A weaker skier would have tumbled at that point, but in an ironic twist, Crutchfield’s expert ability, honed since the age of three and celebrated by all who knew him, instinctively tried to hold things together. He hit a death cookie and projected himself into a rock, eventually coming to rest "submarined" under the snow. Ingenuity by a skiing cohort dug out the space in front of his face so he could breathe, but suspecting a serious spinal injury didn’t move him. Her suspicion was correct.

When he came to he remembers his hands being so cold. Why were his hands so cold? He begged the rescue crew to warm them up.

Crutchfield’s cold digits indicated the onset of paralysis due to his cracking the C6 and C7 vertebrae in his neck. It would result in partial quadriplegia.

Partial is a key word in the equation. Misconception-busting Crutchfield moves himself around in a wheelchair with his arms and is able to walk with the use of crutches – the payoff of hard-fought rehab. Plus spinal injuries are like snowflakes, he quips. No two are alike.