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Grief

January 16, 2015
memorial

It seems like an hour ago. We were waiting for our bags to come off the belt in the baggage area of the Munich International Airport. Dark circles betray the eyes of the weary bodies that were desperately trying to cope with the 8-hour time change. As we wait, we attempt to distract ourselves from the fatigue that hangs over our brains. We chat about nothing and, then again, about all there ever is to chat about. About family, home, the holidays, and the flight.

Our bags come. After each guy tediously balances 3 ski bags and two duffels on a single cart, I say goodbye. We are headed in separate directions. I, to Almdorf, Austria, and the D-Team boys, to Solden, Austria. I smile and laugh a little bit to myself when I hear where they are planning to “train” in Solden. I have been there many times and never once had good training. I smile because I wish them the best of luck. I laugh because I wish I could come with them to shred the 1-2 feet of powder you can usually count on to fall while attempting to train.

I shake each one of their hands. I give some of them hugs. Not the sappy, “I haven’t seen you in years, double-arm wrap, hips in” type hugs. I give them a, “cool guy, bro dude, single arm clasp to chesty” hug. Everything is as it ever was. Except… it wasn’t as it ever was. This time was special. Because this time would be the last time I would see Ronnie Berlack and Bryce Astle for the rest of my life.Bryce Headshot

I didn’t know Bryce very well. I was fortunate to have been able to get to know him a little bit better throughout this last year. Of all the endless things I’d like to write about him, I’ll say just this: There are a lot of sports psychologists, sayings, books, movies, and religions that convey this idea of “living in the moment”. It is something I have striven for in ski racing, and in life in general. But at times, when I let the little things overwhelm me into frustration, I can lose sight of what’s most important. Bryce seemed to be one of the lucky few who didn’t have to remind himself to live in the moment. He truly lived life to the fullest. He was the moment. No more. No less.

I didn’t know Ronnie very well either. He grew up racing in eastern BC DH 1214region and was a couple years younger then me. So, it wasn’t until he made the team that I got to meet him. He struck me as bit odd. For instance, when playing volleyball. He had this routine leading up to his serve that seemed to defy logic and gravity. It was a performance in itself. A well-rehearsed ballet that took precise timing between each choreographed step and arm movement. As silly as it seemed, in the end, he was as competitive, as fun to play with, and tried as hard as any of us. Harder in fact.

Over the last couple days I’ve been around a lot of people who either knew Ronnie and Bryce personally, or who didn’t know them but were aware of the accident through the ski community. In either case, there wasn’t a lot to say… verbally at least. When trying to talk about it. When trying to come up with the right words to say, waves of memories flood the mind. Flashes of sound, color, and emotion blend together and overwhelm the senses until there is nothing to say. Only a long moment of eye contact, an embrace, a hug, or a moment of silence, shared between family and friends, seems to contain enough meaning to adequately respect the memory of all that Bryce and Ronnie are.

I think that death teaches us a lot about ourselves. Grief exists only in the mind2013-14 U.S. Alpine Ski Team Photo: Sarah Brunson/U.S. Ski Team, but is as tangible to the physical senses as sight or sound. It causes us to think, to remember, and to feel. In my memories of those who have passed on, I also observe the memory of myself. Who I was, how I was, and what I did. As I re-live each moment, I think, “How could I have been better?” or “what could I have done to make this persons time on earth better?” Or, in other words, “could I have been a better person in the eyes of Ronnie, or Bryce?” And, the answer is… yes.

I could have reached out to Bryce when he was trying to make the U.S. Ski Team. I had been through the same struggles with Snowbird’s Ski Team, and should have been there to make sure he had every opportunity to see his dreams fulfilled. I could have been more patient with Ronnie. I could have taken more time to understand the brilliance of his wacky metaphors.

But this isn’t about regret. In honoring the lives of Bryce and Ronnie, it does us no good to dwell in regret. Like Bryce’s dad Jamie said, “Honor him by doing something nice or helpful for someone.” To me that means we should remember all that the memories of Bryce and Ronnie still have to offer the world. But also, that we should treat the people in our lives; our family, our friends, our loved ones, and everyone we haven’t yet met, in the way we wish we could have been with Bryce and Ronnie while they were still alive.

Then, when the chaos of existence calls the name of a loved one before their time is rightfully up. Instead of being drained by grief, we can instead be filled with gratitude, love, and hope. Gratitude: That we were lucky enough to know them in their time here on earth. Love: For all they stood for, achieved, and strived for. And Hope: That we can carry on, bringing the same joy to others, that they brought to us.

See you soon boys… In this life or the next.

Love,

Brennan


Untitled

October 30, 2014
IMG_1796

I find myself crying a lot these days.

I know that sounds like a weird thing to start a blog off with, but it’s true. Four times in the last week if you can believe it.

And to be clear… when I say “crying”, I don’t mean making up my own language consisting of wailing baby noises and tonal nonsense interlaced with a sniveling snort or two. I’m talking about the feeling that wells up from the depths of every cell in your body. Extracting the very meaning of what it means to be alive, focusing it, and then discharging the resulting liquid onto unsuspecting rosy cheeks.

All of that… just from hearing the “Feed the Birds” song in “Mary Poppins”.

 

 

father son

Or from watching an awkward son learn of his power to travel through time and, in the end, use it to re-live cherished father-son experiences weeks after his father dies from cancer in “About Time”. Or because, the death of an infant daughter causes irreparable damage to the relationship between two soul mates. Resulting in a tragic suicide. But also in the creation of a beautiful tattoo that binds the eternal love of the couple onto the skin of the dead wife in the “The Broken Circle Breakdown”.

None of that happened in real life… but it feels like it did.

Sometimes, I wish life were as simple as it is in the movies. Where each action, sublime as its existence may be, could be the pivotal moment in a character’s story. Actors, like marionettes, are brought to life at the hands of the Director’s vision. Hero’s are born from the slightest challenge to their ordinary existence. Villains are spawned when they succumb to society’s moral weaknesses and hijacked miscommunications.

There is no story in “real life”. Instead, there is only each moment, each decision, and each experience. Only when we’ve lived the entirety of our lives can our story be summed up, our efforts weighed, and our successes measured. We can never know the context to the ending of our own story. Therefore, we will never experience the tragic beauty of our last embrace.

 

 


Day Off:

October 13, 2014
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Corralco Chile, September 20, 2014:  I am sitting on a couch that is thoroughly less relaxing than it looks. The lounge at the Hotel Corralco is filled with a number of very inviting, yet very uncomfortable pieces of furniture. Scattered among the coffee table and couches are a couple of uniquely milled wooden stools. They are mesmerizing to look at, but they simply have no business pretending to be adequate replacements for the socially acceptable forms of furniture that typically provide comfort for a visitor’s gluteus buttass.

Like many of the blogs I have written, I am coming to you live, from a beautifully dismal day off. For Ski Racers, there are generally two kind of days. A “day on” refers to each day we are skiing, training, or racing. And a “day off” refers to a day when we are resting for the next “day on”. “Day offs” are typically nothing to wrIMG_3746ite home about. Certainly nothing worth putting on the internet… haha wups… But when all is said and done, they are necessary to reach the peaks of elite performance.

Beyond the basic physiological gains provided by a day of rest, the real benefit can be most drastically observed within one’s own mind. Sometimes, in the heat of competition, it’s hard to remember why you are lucky to be friends with the men or women on your team. When the future of your career is based upon how fast you ski relative to those who surround you, it is easy to let the trivial insecurities, resentments, and tempers build up to the breaking point. Sometimes it takes a little bit of fun on a “day off” to remind you why you are rooting for your team mates to succeed as much as you wish for your own success.

The typical “day off” starts with a failed attempt at sleeping in. No matter how willfully we aspire to sleep till midday, inevitably we find ourselves wide-eyed and restless by 7:00 a.m. Resenting the consciousness that evolution blessed us with, and wishing for the peaceful chaos of our dreams to resume. After putting off the inevitable for an hour or so, we find our way to where ever the nearest pot of coffee is most likely ready.

I am reminded of a certain scene from my favorite Disney Movie, “The Jungle Book”. Scope this un-embedable video on youtube to see what I’m talking about. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZDo-udXmgQ

IMG_0391What that reference was referring to is that sometimes there isn’t a whole lot to do after breakfast. Watching movies, reading books, or losing ones self in the infinite virtual landscape of Facebook or Instagram are the most popular choices. Some days are not so Ho, Hum however. There are days when the weather is nice, and when we are not forced to stay miles away from civilization withing the confines of our hotel. These are the days when the pressures of ski racing are as intangible as the fleeting memory of last night’s violently entertaining dream.

In Europe, some “days off” begin the night before with a couple laps down the Rodel track. Rodeling might be the single most accessible, entertaining, and dangerous “sport” ever invented. It involves steering a wooden sled with steel runners down a casually maintained cat track around obstacles that include impossibly sharp switchbacks, jumps, bridges, cow pastures, and (perhaps the most dangerous obstacle of all) British tourists. All of this at speeds between 0-40 mphish depending on your courage, skill, and how much alcohol you’ve consumed.

In New Zealand we are constantly smothered by breathtaking scenery. The stunning sunrise and sunset’s are a maddening compliment to the island’s unique brand of cute and cuddly native wild life. A “day off” is a good time to ignore all that bullshit in order to search out even more adrenaline. A day of Sky Diving or Bungee Jumping is a popular way to not only forget you’re a ski racer, but to forget that there isn’t anything worth doing in life except falling to your near death out of planes or off cliffs.140919_b_bennett_203140919_br_bb_020

The first half of our camp in Chile this year was epic. Blue skies and fields of white snow greeted us each morning as the stars faded into the rising sun. Little did we know… the mountain was teasing us. Showing us the picture of what could be. In the days that followed, I have never seen it snow slash rain more consistently in my entire life. We were miles from civilization with nothing to do… the perfect criteria for an un-blogable series of “days off”.

Due to weather, previous “day off” activites like biking, hiking, frisbee golf, and volleyball were not going to be possible. So, we turned to the Ping-Pong table. Marvin the French-Duchman quickly established himself as the man to beat. Only Thomas Biesemeyer and Head Coach Sasha Rearick managed to steal a win or two from him. But everyone’s game improved immensely by the end of the camp.

If more people wanted access to the only entertainment system within our temporary prison, we would play a game we called around the world. The video’s below detail the rules and outcomes. Enjoy!

Also, check out the slide show below for more pics of our chile trip and some other day off adventures. Thanks To Jonathan Selko for taking the sweet Frisbee Golf Pics. Scope his website at http://www.selkophoto.com/ for more action.


Post for the T2 Foundation

August 29, 2014
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I was recently asked to write a piece for T2’s Athlete Blog about what it means to be a Ski Racer during the summer. I had been waiting since mid-March for a chance to unveil another one of my over-long rants that I specialize in putting on the internet. So, this was my chance. I sat down to get started, but after 20 min… 45 min… an hour had gone by… I hadn’t accomplished much. The large scab I received from “super-manning” off my bike had been picked to half its original size and was now bleeding. And the blank word document with its infinitely blinking cursor was taunting me. Besides, what does it mean to be anything ever anyway?

For most kids, summer takes place during the months of June, July, and August. It is a time to free the body and mind from the shackles of the schoolroom; a time to relax with close friends and reunite with those whose lives have taken them on a different path; a time to revel in the boundless, unappreciated naivety of our youths. Or, it could just be a time to sit in the basement and binge-watch the full seasons of “Breaking Bad”, “Game of Thrones”, or “How I Met Your Mother” on some idle Tuesday afternoon.

For the devoted Ski Racer, summer is a tad more complicated. The competition season takes places between November and March, but being a Ski Racer is a year round commitment. It is mind-bottling trying to find the formula for success amid the sea of thousands. Having the right balance between dry-land training, mental fortification, on-snow camps, and relaxation time during the summer months can be the difference between reaching your goals this upcoming season, or having to set new ones that involve going to college… or getting a real job.

If you have aspirations of earning a college scholarship or qualifying for the U.S. Ski Team, you probably have a few priorities during the summer. Getting strong is one of the most important and obvious of these priorities. I’m not advocting for everyone to spend 5 hours a day locked inside a gym. But an easy way to ensure that you are not completely wasting your limited time on snow making tired turns is to spend some quality time getting fit during the summer. What is the proper amount of time? HaHaHaHa! That’s an excellent question. The only answer I can give confidently is — enough time so when you look back on your career, you don’t wish you had done more.

Getting strong is a priority and a challenge, but perhaps the biggest obstacle to overcome for many Club, College, and Ski Team athletes alike is paying for the addictive yet erroneous sport.

Allow me to paint you a picture of my past:

I am 12 years old. Today is going to be the best day ever because today, the coaches have decided that it is time for me to start learning to cross block!! I’m ecstatic because all the big boys crossblock, and if I can crossblock the maybe I will get to ski with them! I have just mounted my first pair of brand new “Spyder”, see-through, half pol guards onto my “Scott” “Series 4 Aluminum World Cup” Poles, which are both missing pole baskets. The guards are new and unmarked. It isn’t cool to have pole guards that look new because that means you haven’t hit any gates with them yet. So I take the guards into my garage and whack them with an old broken gate so the other kids think I know how to cross block.

At twelve, everything I thought about skiing, about ski racing, and about life in general crossed through my mind as I tried to deal with the excitement of learning to crossblock. The only though that didn’t cross my mind was that if I learned to crossblock, I would get better. If I got better, I would start skiing more and going to more races. And if I went to more races, it would get more expensive for me and my family.

Like a lot of ski racing families, when I was coming up the ranks as a J2 and J1, my parents didn’t have 15,000 dollars a year to spare on my sport of choice. They had car payments, mortgage payments, insurance payments, taxes and you know… like all the stuff that people in the real world have to deal with. So, I began writing sponsorship letters to my closest family, frinds, and friends of friends in order to raise the funds I needed to continue ski racing.

At first I was embarrassed to write the letters. I tried to keep them simple. I focused mainly on the cool places I had been, tried to include a funy story or picture, and listed my results. Then I’d tell everyone about my goals for the upcoming season;how my dreams of being on the U.S. Ski Team were possible because of their contributions, But I could not make the next step without their continued support. I HATED telling people this. It opened me up to a level of vulnerability I had never experienced before. It felt like lying, because I had no idea if i could achieve the goals i was broadcasting . If I didn’t achieve them, then the money these people gave to me, that they trusted me with, was all for nothing.

I became a bit more comfortable with asking people for money after I learned I wasn’t offending anyone by asking for their help. I would get responses from a distant acquaintance, apologizing that they couldn’t donate but to keep sending the letters because they loved being a part of my journey. Now, in my 5th year on the U.S. Ski Team, I have qualified for the B-Team and will be paying approximately-exactly 20,000 dollars in various expenses. It seems the fundraising experience I gained in order to make the U.S. Ski Team has come full circle now that I am on it.

As I get older, I am becoming more insecure about reaching most of my goals as an athlete, and still not making enough money to move out of my parents basement… or buy my own clothes… or food. But, I realize that I’m also lucky. Lucky because, even though it may be hard to justify the meaning of your own existence to a grandma, or cousin, or local business, in the end those who do support you will become a part of that journey.

Maybe that was the most important lesson I learned from the responses to my letters– that our journey is so unique. People who have never skied will follow us to the ends of the earth. Not because we’re trying to be “ski racers”. But because we are chasing a dream, “the dream”, that we are violently passionate about. That is something everyone an relate to, and something that everyone will support.


Olympic Contemplation

March 10, 2014
Jared 1

Before I start, I should warn you that this blog does not expound upon my non-existent experiences at the Sochi Olympic Games. I feel that by including the word “Olympic” in the title, I may have unintentionally slash strategically suckered some of you into reading this ramble with the hopes that it’s content might be about my ragingly unique experiences at the 2014 games. Trust me, I am just as bummed as you are that I didn’t ski well enough to qualify for the games… but my not going provided for an opportunity to write something about the Olympics from a perspective other than the usual topics of “how unique your experience was”… or how janky everything was in Russia” … or for that matter, “how Un-Janky things actually turned out to be”. No. This blog is simply about watching TV.

I’ve had ample time to contemplate a great many things in the last couple of days.  (or at least when I wrote this it was the last couple days) Unfortunately, this was because I was sick. And because I was sick, the majority of what ran through my mind was nonsense and therefore a byproduct of my body’s first attempt at warding off the sore throat, ballooning headache, chills, and fever that kept me in bed for three days. On the bright side, I watched more of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games in those three days then of any other Olympic Games in my entire life combined! I don’t want to scare you, but there were a lot of “In’s”.. a lot of “Out’s” … and a lot of “What have you’s” that had to come together for this to happen. The first: I had to have a TV that connected to basic public television. The second: I had to be in Europe.. and that’s it.

That’s right ladies and germs. In Europe, the Olympics are broadcast on one of multiple public channels almost ALL DAY long. I know, I know. I just said “in Europe”, like everything in Europe is the exact same. But the funny thing is… it actually is. I’ve spent a significant amount of time watching live broadcasts almost all day long of the Olympics in Germany, Switzerland, Bulgaria, and Austria. Ok, so maybe not all of Europe, but I’d say that’s a pretty solid sample size to base a blog post off of right?

tls1Anyway, in the Bobsled, they didn’t just show the Germans or the Austrians… In the slalom they didn’t just show the medal contenders and the “Super Star” European skiers like Marcel Hirscher, Felix Neureuther, or Bernadette Shild. No. They aired almost every kid, whether they were from the home nation of the broadcast you were watching from, or from a country I didn’t even know existed. Like the kid from the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste who finished 22 seconds out. I may have only taken one geography class in my expedited time at school, but if you can take a blank globe or  map and point to where Timor-Leste is, you deserve a medal, or a parade, or at least a high five.timor 3

I was skeptical at first of such an overwhelmingly unbiased display of the greatest winter sporting event known to mankind. It challenged the basic knowledge that is apparently passed from generation to generation in our country that the Olympics are to be broadcast between 7 & 10 P.M. Recapping the day’s highlights by showing the pre-fabricated stories of the Americans who were expected to win medals and did, an international medal winner/contender or two, and maybe a couple other Americans. Cheers to NBC for providing free live coverage of all the Olympic Competitions online. But the coverage was only free to those who subscribe to a cable provider. So even if you wanted to sacrifice your circadian rhythm to catch up on the un-aired midnight action from the curling rink, you still had to pay 50+ dollars a month for cable to have the option.

One example of NBC’s failure to capture the true spirit of the Olympic Games came when they failed to show any of the four runs Jared Goldberg, the youngest member of the Men’s U.S. Olympic Alpine Ski Team, took in his first Olympics. Jared qualified in possibly the mot unique and volatile event in alpine ski racing, the Combined. It takes one run of Downhill and one of Slalom. Smashing them together in order to create one chaotic hurricane of a race where any combination of variables can can determine the winner on ay given day. Because of the format, the winner is usually an established Tech skier who skis just slowly enough first run to have a good start position from which to make up the deficit second run. Or, he is an established speed skier who skis just fast enough first run to preserve his lead through the second run and escape the onslaught of tech skiers who are gunning for the lead. Jared 2

Either way, the Combined event takes an extraordinary amount of athleticism. Jared showed the world he had plenty of it when he finished 11th, second for Americans. Ted Ligety, a medal favorite in both the Combined and the GS events, finished 12th in the Combined, one spot behind Jared. In the GS, Bode Miller, one of the most decorated Alpine Ski Racers of all time, finished 20th. Jared finished 19th, third for Americans. One place in front of Bode, and four plaes behind Tim Jitloff, who finished 15th, second for Americans. Both Bode and Ted’s runs were broadcast, but in the competition created for the sake of competition, Jare’ds spirited efforts were not included in that nights American Olympic Coverage. (side note: Tim Jitloff’s runs also were not broadcast)

I know that writing this sparsely organized piece of writing for my blog, that maybe 100 of my friends and family will read a couple of sentences into, will not change anything.  (Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful to each and every one of those 100 who care enough to see what I’ve been doing and thinking.) And I know my views are biased, given that my life revolves around the sport of Alpine Ski Racing. There are plenty of other athletes whose Olympic Journey deserve the exposure and recognition for their efforts that they largely won’t get from an American fan base due to the shortcomings of NBC. But the point is. For all of Europe’s frustrating and unimaginably nonsensical and ironic qualities in relation to the everyday conveniences of America, they sure do know how to broadcast the greatest winter sporting event in the world.

 


Christmas/Relearning

January 26, 2014
Tie-Dye Driving

2 – Relearning

 

I arrived to Europe on the 31st. This was the third flight over the body of water known as the “Atlantic Ocean” I had taken in as many weeks. We drove to St. Johann, Austria. Stayed in one set of apartments that night, then stayed in another set of apartments the next. Two nights later we moved an hour away to Henereit, Austria. Two days later we moved to Oberjoch, Germany. (Technically we are currently moving to Oberjoch, so I’m going to switch to future tense now.. get ready!!) After two days in Germany we Will move to Adelboden, Switzerland for two days (one of which i will be racing a World Cup GS!!) after which we will move back to St. Johann, where we started the whole kitten kabutel.

“Why”, you ask, “would you spend a whole paragraph TALKING ABOUT DRIVING FROM PLACE TO PLACE!?!”. Excellent question. And here is the answer. Although it may be a little redundant to say it now as it was quite self evident… we have been traveling a lot. Not that moving from one tiny European hotel to another is a bad thing. In fact, all the traveling we get to do is one of the perks of being an unpaid professional athlete. But its a little bit tiring, and there are only so many hobbit sized, spiral stair cases a person can stand to endure dragging their very un-hobbit sized luggage up and down.

Other then that, the trip has been a moderate success. My first trip to Europe this Season in the beginning of December was not of the same nature. After a successful month of being back on snow in Colorado, making the switch to an injected European surface proved to be one of the biggest challenges I have ever faced. It was like I had recieved some kind of time warp mind wipe on the plane ride over. Like some kind of freak solar flare had occurred and interacted with my brain waves in such a way that I could not for the life of me make a turn. Without going into to much detail, it took me the length of the two week trip to figure out that there were some minor equipment changes that needed to be made in order for me to adjust to the European snow. After these were made I could slowly start learning how to ski again.Cow in Henereit

My mistake in the beginning was that I thought I had “It”. I have had “It” a number of times throughout my career. “It”, in this case, is the proverbial point where “I” (and I’m assuming other ski racers) feel or see something in their skiing and then say to themselves, “Ok, now that I know or feel or can do that, I will finally be able to achieve the next step”.

I now realize that the problem with “It” is, it doesn’t exist! “It” was a story. “It” was a fantasy my brain invented to keep the negative thoughts and feelings, that I imagine every athlete experiences, out of my head. Negative thoughts like “how will i do?” or “I’m not good enough.” at their root stemmed from the fear of change. Every time I told myself I had “It” I was telling myself that I didn’t have to worry about what ever I had been focusing on, ever again.

What I should have been telling myself was that you never have anything. That no matter how similar, each turn is a new turn. Each hotel room in some foreign land, each 8 hour car ride with comatose ski racers and grumpy coaches, each experience is different. That “It” is an idea to forever chase, and to enjoy never owning. Change is always happening. In life, and especially in ski racing, we are always learning and re-learning.

 


Chrismas/Relearning

January 26, 2014

1 – Christmas

 

I’m sitting in a Volkswagon Van traveling from Henereit, Austria, to Oberjoch, Germany. The front seat is comprised of a three-person bench seat. If you are that unlucky third person sitting in the middle seat and straddling the stick shift. You are probably squished in between two people. The driver. Who is either a ski coach or some other possibly non-english speaking figure of authority. And a ski racer. Who probably smells like the old sweatpants with questionable stains he is wearing and who is drooling on himself in the midst of a minor coma. A coma with such a severe onset that the victim didn’t even have time to remove the piece of food he had been eating from his mouth before he lost consciousness. (the previous statements were written to describe a scenario purely for the entertainment of my audience and has no basis in reality what so ever)

Needless to say, if you are in between either of these two people, you are not having a good day.

On this particular day, I am happy to report that this unlucky third person has a seat in the second row all to himself. So I have all the space in the world to spin my tales of the road: tales of heroism, of dragons and damsels, of solitude and of sorrow. Ok, maybe things aren’t quite as medieval as I just made them sound. In the ski racing world, there is plenty of heroism. There is also possibly an equal and opposite amount of sorrow. But the only dragons are found in the heart of the mind, and the only damsels… well, I don’t exactly know where they are because we never see any. (Also in an effort to promote transparency of information between the public and big corporations/governments… I need to admit that this post was started in the van to Oberjoch, but wasn’t finished until two weeks later when I remembered I had actually written anything to start.)

One of the drawbacks to being a moderately successful unpaid professional athlete on the U.S. Ski Team is that you have to spend Christmas and New Years in Europe. Fortunately I was allowed to return home for the holidays. Usually a trip home for me means 7 days strait of skiing powder at Snowbird with family and friends. But this year, thanks to a politically disputed, scientifically proven, global event that involves the human activity induced heating of the atmosphere which shall remain un-named in this blog so that I can remain politically neutral, there wasn’t any powder to ski!! (so thanks for nothing Rush Limbaugh)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/03/cold-weather-climate-change_n_4537598.html (a piece for all of you to read if you think Donald Trump should be allowed to say anything about climate change)

IMG_0058      Without powder skiing to fill my schedule the rest of my break was much more laid back then usual. Christmas day went as follows: 7:00 a.m. – wake up and know that it is too early to open presents. 7:35 – now that I’ve been laying here for 35 minutes I am really awake and can’t stand the thought of waiting any longer to go up stairs. 7:36 – go upstairs, pour a cup of coffee with Bailey’s and chat with mom. The glow of Christmas day is burning holes in my face as I pretend not to notice the shimmering tree 15 feet away. I am of course sizing up every wrapped package of socks, long sleeve collared shirts that I will never wear, and gift cards from our Cousins that lay under the tree that is somehow being kept alive on a strict diet of “Sprite”. 8:00 – On the nose, slowly make my way over to the tree but sit there pretending that I don’t know EXACTLY which pile of packages are for me. This delicate dance of wills is really a competition between my sister and I to see who can open all our presents first while simultaneously acting like we would rather wait to see what everyone else received.

One of the only other traditions in my family is to go skiing on Christmas day. During the holidays Christmas day is the only day that isn’t insanely crowded at the ski resorts. So we shredded presents and then headed up to the “Bird” to ski around on some of the best “man made snow on earth”. (Get it? It’s funny because usually Utah’s slogan is “best snow on earth” but because there is no snow…… catch my drift? ha.. ha.. ha.. get it? that one’s funny to cause there aren’t any drifts cause there IS NO SNOW… shhh ok i’m done.)

 

 


An Introduction

December 1, 2013
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On January 21st, 2013 I crashed attempting to come to a stop at the bottom of a Europa Cup downhill course. Wait, this is my first blog post. Do people really want to read my self-indulgent nostalgia? Maybe I should write about something more interesting. Something important. Like: Did you know there is a giant FLOTILLA (what a cool word) of plastic in the Pacific Ocean the size of Texas! This video explains a little bit about the problem and how it might be solved http://www.boyanslat.com/TEDx/

But no, that is too political. And the only thing I know for sure about the flotilla is that I am a major contributor… being a ski racer and all. Not really the greenest sport out there if you know what I’m saying.

Hmmm…. Black Bears in Mountains of Croatia, the Russian Gay Propaganda Law, and why Mario Kart on Nintendo 64 is the most entertaining thing ever invented are all topics that I would love to jump into but for the sake of your time, and me finding my online voice lets start with a little background.


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December 1, 2013
Back In The Day

Somewhere along the line I got lucky. It’s hard to approximate the values of how lucky an experience might have been. But the first luckiest thing that has ever happened to me is the fact that if each of my ancestors hadn’t conceived at the exact nanosecond that they did, I wouldn’t be here. The next luckiest thing that happened was coming into contact with some of the following people. Because in someway or another they are responsible for the amazing experiences I have had in my life.

At the beginning it was Tyson. Teaching us how to ski the gnarliest lines at Snowbird at the ripe old age of 8. This was when I learned to fall off cliffs onto my head into powder deeper then I was tall, and how to straight line a mogul field so far in the back seat that no adult could hope to keep up with fully developed knees and joints.

Then it was Carter. Carter had a baby back then who is now the same age as I was when he first taught us to land a 20 foot cliff and how to ski any run at Snowbird on one ski. Of course when I refer to being “taught”, at that age being taught meant Carter told us to take one ski off. After two hours of crashing, accidentally hitting jumps and having way too much fun, we had learned to ski on one ski.

Then came Angry Coach, Powder Coach, and Putt Putt. Pete was “angry” coach. Bridger was “powder” Coach. All three were my heroes. Angry coach was supposed to be the responsible one. Always making us run behind the van for being late, pushing us to train hard and keep focused. Powder coach just wanted us to “send it” and “Giv’er the onion”. Always daring us to go bigger or ski faster. Putt Putt watched us all grow up, and loved to ski. From time to time when training gates was pointless we’d get to go out and watch the old man show us how it was done.

I was getting older (16ish now) and I became more then a shapeable little piece of dough. But thanks to all those mentioned above along with some others, I started going faster. Brad Saxe came along and made me quite unhappy for a little while. He had coached talented athletes from all over the western U.S. and started to force me to take responsibility for the career I said I wanted. I never fathomed the amount of time and hard work I would have to put in to take each next step on the path to my dream of making the U.S. ski team. But Brad, with his technical knowledge and experience, was there for me. Even after I may or may not have stressed him out enough to break his three-year tobacco sobriety.

There were so many others as well. Each with their own story of personal kindness that in some way good or bad helped me reach the first step in my dream. Thanks Kyle, Steph, Alecia, Pearl, Chaffee, Dogger, Steve and Sue, Ralph, All my ski racing friends and not, and all the family, friends, and acquaintances that have loved and supported me.

P.S. I promise in the future my posts will be a paragraph or smaller… You can blame these short novellas on my insecure online personality, and a need to actually have something on my webpage besides a couple pictures ;{}


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December 1, 2013
Nolan-Start

I made it on the team, Wooohooo! For all the philosophers, thinkers, hippies, and fans of Alan Watts (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMRrCYPxD0I for those of you who haven’t been titillated by his orations), there is nothing more rewarding then putting effort into something and then seeing the result of that effort realized. Well… except for maybe the experiences experienced whilst putting in said effort. Because perhaps the most rewarding thing in life is actually having the ability to consciously experience. Perhaps I got off topic? Ok lets just say that it felt good.

But I was on the D-Team, and had new challenges to overcome. Ski racing is EXPENSIVE, and there are a lot of really good skiers out there who are all getting better… Always! Do you know how frustrating and amazing that is? Not only do you have to get faster and better, you have to do it faster then everyone else. Good thing I’m competitive. Anyway it was a new world. I began to get my first international race experiences. In Europe skiing is apart of the culture. Much in the same way that fast food and football are in America (sry baseball, your just too boring).

Whether it’s ski racing, ski jumping, or Nordica racing. During the winter it’s happening everywhere. And people are either avidly competing, or they are avidly fans of these sports. Lets just say that learning to compete in Europe was like learning to ski for the first time. But the great part about thinking everybody who you’re racing against is better then you is that you don’t have to expect anything and can just try to ski your best no matter what.

That small realization should be obvious. Try your hardest. Right? I had always tried my hardest. In the gym, washing windows, in school (no promises), and in competition. But I found out after getting frustrated from being absolutely destroyed by the European Competition, that I had to try my hardest at every moment and every turn, fight to make the next turn the best turn I have ever made. Then no matter how it turned out. to make the next turn the next best turn I had ever made.