'Merely a flesh wound': Ski instructor cracks jokes after face impaled by tree branch
These days, Natty Hagood's friends call him "Lipstick."
The 29-year-old ski instructor is making international headlines for his cavalier reaction to having his mouth impaled by a 45-centimetre tree branch on the slopes of Wyoming.
"As soon as I realized it wasn't a life-threatening injury and wasn't a serious injury, I thought it was extremely novel," Hagood told As It Happens host Carol Off.
Hagood was skiing at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Teton Village, Wy., on March 1 with his buddy Pete and a friend from out of town when he collided with a branch while trying to make an exit between two trees.
I started cracking jokes almost immediately. I said to Pete, you know, "Hey look, I got a new piercing!"- Natty Hagood, ski instructor
"It initially knocked me off my feet and I couldn't tell what had happened. I sort of felt something was amiss with my jaw. I didn't know if I'd broken my jaw, but I knew my face felt weird," he said.
At first he thought maybe his chin strap got pushed onto his face. But then saw the stick in his periphery vision.
"So I reached out and kind of grasped the stick and wiggled it a little bit and realized it was rather soundly affixed in my face," he said. "That was kind of the aha moment, if you will."
The branch was between about a foot and a half long, maybe two feet, he said. But Hagood, who has wilderness first responder training, didn't panic.
"I knew that what I had was merely a flesh wound," he said. "I started cracking jokes almost immediately. I said to Pete, you know, 'Hey look, I got a new piercing!'"
When the ski hill patrollers came to the rescue, Hagood even asked one of them to take his picture.
"They were like, 'Man, we gotta get you like packaged up and get outta here,'" he said. "I was like, 'No, no, no, really, like, I'm fine. Like, let's just take a photo first ... this is too good.'"
He says he cracked off a chunk of the branch so they could secure it safely for the journey to the bottom of the hill, which he tried to undertake on his own.
"I was like, 'No, I'm fine guys, like, I'm just gonna ski down. Like, I don't wanna create a big fuss.' And they were like, 'No, we're gonna take you down in a sled. If you fall, this thing's gonna rip out of your face.'"
Eventually, he acquiesced and they hauled him to safety.
After sixteen stitches, a week and a half of recovery, and a $1,500 US medical bill paid for through a mix of Obamacare-enabled insurance and crowdfunding, Hagood is starting to get back to his old self.
"Well, I wouldn't really classify myself as normal, but yeah, back to where I was," he said.
The injury has earned him a few nicknames from ski pals, including Lipstick, Sticky and his personal favourite, Treesus Christ.
Not content to let his 15 minutes of fame go to waste, Hagood is using the limelight to raise political awareness in Wyoming, where he recently helped organized a jam-packed town hall meeting that none of the state's congressional representatives attended.
- THE NATIONAL: Republicans face outrage at town halls
That, he says, is a more important story.
"I'm so boggled that people are so fascinated by this stick through my face."