Woman recounts night on ski hill | AspenTimes.com

Woman recounts night on ski hill

Chad Abraham

The last thing Renata Sialdini remembers is sitting down in a stand of trees.She just wanted to rest after deciding to take one last run. She would wake up roughly 19 hours later in a bed at Aspen Valley Hospital. Her body temperature was 80 degrees.When doctors told Sialdini what had happened, that she had spent Friday night outside at Aspen Highlands unconscious in subzero temperatures, she said she broke down.”I cried a lot when I wake up here,” she said from her hospital bed Tuesday night. “Because I know I could [have] died.”The 49-year-old cardiologist from Sao Paulo, Brazil, recounted what happened before her accident, and she also said what was reported about her injuries in this newspaper was incorrect. She said she did not suffer a skull fracture nor a broken leg.But the cold did take a toll. She said she cannot feel one of her feet very well because “it was frozen.””And my hand is not very good.”But she said doctors told her she will not lose any fingers.”I am OK, I can recuperate,” Sialdini said. “That’s a miracle because I stayed for a long time there.” She said she likely will remain in the hospital until Saturday.Sialdini went to Highlands to people-watch and see the views while her friends and husband skied Aspen Mountain. She was not intending to ski much and was without her normal attire. She had no helmet and was wearing a light jacket. A headache struck on the lift, and she said she took a Tylenol PM, which comes with drowsiness warnings.She headed back to the base area around 3 p.m.But “the snow was great,” Sialdini said.So she decided to take one more run. A self-described expert skier, she dove into a patch of trees on the upper part of Kessler’s Bowl, in the Steeplechase area. The headache struck again.”So I sit a little. And I don’t know no more [of] what happened. I think I slipped, I don’t know what happened,” she said.She remembers intending to sit down for just a few minutes. And then “nothing, nothing, nothing” until the hospital.As a doctor, she said she is “so sensible” with medicine such as Tylenol PM because she is so susceptible to its effects.Doctors said her survival was incredible and that she had one thing going for her, she said.”I do a lot of exercise, you know? Every day,” Sialdini said. “And that helped me a lot.”When the skiers found her, one of her gloves had come off and she was locked into only one ski. The other ski, mysteriously, was propped against a tree.”They told me maybe I wake up and maybe I tried to take off my boots. They don’t know, nobody knows,” she said.Meanwhile, her husband and friends thought she had skied at Snowmass, where they are staying. When she did not come back, they began to worry but apparently waited until morning to contact Snowmass police. Ski patrollers called her husband soon after to tell him Sialdini had been found and told him of her condition.She said her husband grew so “nervous that he falls and he broke his arm. He couldn’t expect [news] like that.”Despite the nightmarish vacation, she said she is “good, very good. My recuperation is really great, is incredible.”She said she has been to Aspen many times. But on this trip she learned a harsh lesson about skiing alone, which she had done habitually but will never do again.”We never have to ski alone. Never,” Sialdini said. “It’s like the sea: You never go alone.”Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is chad@aspentimes.com

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