Trick-or-Treat Champion

Will Rhoads just won trick-or-treating. Or, maybe Seth did. Jury’s out.

All I know is that it’s the first year Seth hasn’t gone door-to-door collecting candy—he was benched due to illness—and he wound up receiving a signed World Cup competition bib from the current Large Hills national champion in Nordic Ski Jumping.

Will walked in. And Seth lost. his. mind. “Will Rhoads, you’re in my house?” 

Because Nordic Ski Jumping such a small sports community, Seth was sitting with his teammates, on the steps by the start at the top of the 120m jump, soaking in the atmosphere, on the day Will won the national title, this summer. That same week, Seth was in the group Will mentored and coached for a day during the  Springer Tournee, a huge summer jumping tournament hosted by Park City Nordic Ski Club.

Since then, Wil has kept up with Seth’s progress, as documented on Lance’s YouTube channel and my InstaFaceTweet habit, often dropping encouraging comments on the posts. It meant the world to Seth (and his parents) that a big-dog in the sport was taking the time to notice his jumps.

 

Will had to kneel down so he and Seth would fit in the same frame.

He won Seth’s admiration, though, the first time they met—Seth had been in the sport for about 12 weeks. Will was a national team athlete. And both of them saw in each other a familiar spark.

 

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Tonight’s visit was Will’s way of keeping the spark for the sport alive in Seth, doing something he said would have excited him when he was Seth’s age—showing up to reward enthusiasm with, well, more enthusiasm.

“I saw the video of you jumping the 20m,” he told Seth. “It looked great.”

“Keep up the great work, and awesome attitude!”

Seth asked if we can get a frame for the bib. I’m wondering if he will ever take it off.

Seth told him he already has his eye on the 40. (Gulp.) Will said he was 10 when he tried the 40 for the first time.

After Will left, Seth donned the bib and was thrilled to show it off to every trick-or-treater who visited—and especially to a couple of teammates who came by our house.

The sweetness wasn’t coming from candy, tonight.

“Mom, I want you to text all my coaches and let them know what a cool thing Will did for me,” he said. “They’ll be really proud.” Yes, I thought, of both of you.

 

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Love That Max : 5 things I learned about people with disability watching new movies

I’ve attended the Sundance Film Festival for 15 years, now, and every year brings me a favorite moment, or two. This year, I seemed to have a zillion: I got to hang out with Paul Rudd at the premiere party for his film, The Fundamentals of Caring. 

 

Chatting with Paul Rudd at his premiere party at the  Acura Sky Lodge. 

 

Eddie the Eagle stars Hugh Jackman and Taron Egerton visited the Park City Nordic Ski Club jumping practice at Utah Olympic Park. I witnessed an awesome Q&A with the stars and filmmaker of Life, Animated. 

But one of the coolest moments was the least expected. I arrived at my reserved seat (thanks to the publicist for the film) at the premiere of The Fundamentals of Caring, only to be joined moments later by the author of the book on which the film was based, and then discovered that my nearest seatmates were given VIP tickets in the waitlist line. “This is the best day of my life!” one of them said. “These seats are the BOMB.” To me, that’s the essence of Sundance—folks who are fans of film who would have been thrilled with any seat, being treated like VIPs. (Later, during the Q&A, they realized the woman who had given them the tickets was a producer of the film. Class act.)

 

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But the reason I saw these films, in particular,  was because I had a very a cool assignment, writing a guest post for Love That Max, about the way films give us a window into the world of people with special needs. Watching these films offered me a reminder of the strength and resilience that lies within all of us—it’s just a question of how we choose to use it that determines our success. It’s one of my favorite pieces, to date, and I’d love for you to read it, and let me know what you think. Oh, and if you’re so inclined, please share it.

Source: Love That Max : 5 things I learned about people with disability watching new movies

 

The Eagle Has Landed

So, Tuesday was kind of a big day around here.

Seth, having conquered the 20m jump in his alpine gear, the previous Friday, was given his first set of nordic ski jumping equipment—boots, and some wide, flat, long skis with no edges and special bindings that allow the heel to flex away from the ski. You know, for flying.

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PCNSC Coach Lindsey Van helps Seth select his Nordic Gear. “You want it hard, easy, or fun?” She asks. “Easy and fun,” he responds. “Well, it won’t be both. But it will be fun.”

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Mission accomplished. Cool boots. Giant skis.

He practiced some in-run position drills (skiing under the hoops helps form). As they made their laps, my friend Stacey came over to tell me, “I hope you don’t mind, but I just told your son to suck it up,” she said. “He was complaining about the boots.” Good, I thought—it came from someone other than me. That left Jeff and me the room to  pep-talk Seth through the first uncomfortable, awkward moments in the new gear, the adjustment to the new learning curve, and the frustration that came along for the ride.

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He took some jumps—which was a lot harder on the new gear than he thought it would be. But all I could do is yell—”That’s my kid! THAT’S MY KID!!!”

Which is what was happening when my friend Valerie showed up to watch, with the stars of a movie she produced, called Eddie the Eagle. The film is based on the life of Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton), a British ski jumper who defied the odds to compete in the 1988 Olympic Winter Games in Calgary. His coach is played by Hugh Jackman. Which was, it turns out, just enough excitement to make Seth feel better about the steep learning curve he was encountering on the new skis.

Hugh and Taron watched the kids fly, and enthusiastically congratulated them on their skills. It was hard to tell who was having more fun, really. But I got a hint, a few hours later. (More on that, in a moment.)

As it happened, Eddie was the “Townie Tuesday” screening, for which Sundance Film Festival officials had distributed free tickets to locals. The kids were bummed that we were not taking them to the 9pm screening. But 9PM! On a school night! Not even I, “Fun Mom,” am that irresponsible—and I can bring it. So, we got them settled at home and set off toward town, for the film. My friend Sarah scored great seats at the front, and saved some. In turn, we saved three for our jumping pals, Stacey, Julie and Coach Lindsey.

Which turned out to be fortuitous, because Taron and Hugh came to the screening to introduce the film, shared their visit to UOP with the audience and wound up in a chat with Lindsey. You can watch the whole exchange, here:

And then…we watched the movie and loved every minute of it. Everything from the writing and acting to the direction and the music—oh, the 80s synth wonderland of a score! My bone to pick? The cinematography—it captured, all too well, the spectacular heights and the death-defying crashes, which are, of course, part and parcel of the sport. I tried to comfort myself with the idea that some things are exaggerated for dramatic and comedic effect, but having just spent the evening watching a practice in which more kids fell than usual (icy course), those moments hit a little too close to home.

However, I’m thrilled to say that the aspect of the sport that Eddie the Eagle captured best is the one I love the most, and one that the PCNSC embodies—its spirit. The essence of jumping is as much heart as it is skill, and if you have heart, you’ve won. And, by the way last Tuesday went, I’d say everyone involved was a winner.

Fly Boy and the 20

Last Friday was a “Chamber of Commerce” day at Utah Olympic Park—the morning had offered cloud cover and sub-zero temperatures, but by afternoon, as happens in Utah, the sun was shining, skies were blue, and the thermometer was hovering around 30 degrees. With all  the sun reflecting off the snow,  the ambient temperature felt 25 degrees warmer than that. Kids and adults assembled in the training area for Get Out And Play were shedding warm layers as though they’d suddenly arrived poolside in the tropics.

With much of the Nordic team and all of the coaches in Steamboat for a competition, the substitute coaches introduced themselves: a current US Ski Team member and the president of Women’s Ski Jumping USA—my new friend Julie. It’s not enough that the kids’ coaches are all highly accomplished ex-Olympians. Park City’s bench is deep, man. I laughed out loud at the irony of our overqualified “subs,” then joined the other mom chaperones, to watch the freestyle and nordic groups begin their warmups.`

 

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Happy Jumpers

 

My friend Liz was there, for the first time, chaperoning her school group, and seeing her kids learn tricks of the Freestyle trade. Our kids have done karate together for years. We are fond of each other’s kids. “Look,” I pointed. “There goes Seth, he’s jumping the 10 meter.” I could feel her tense up as I did—as though he were her own. I know the feeling—every time I see her kids huck themselves off a jump or over a rail, I gulp. He landed it, we both began to breathe normally, and then something amazing happened. He rode the rope tow lift up, but this time, he rode past the point where he usually exits to ski to the 10m start, not letting go until he could ski across to the 20m start.

“He’s not going to jump the 20—” I said, to everyone and no one in particular. “Is he?”

“He’s got to have his first time, some time, right?” One of my pals offered. I supposed so, but I’d been under the impression he wouldn’t be on the 20 until he made the switch, at some yet-to-be-determined-date, from his alpine gear to nordic boots and skis. Perhaps not.

We watched as he engaged in a few minutes of conversation with Julie. He took off his skis, climbed up to stand next to her on the coaching platform, and I inferred that she explained how he should position himself on the start bar. I tried to remember how to breathe. And then, he talked to her for another moment, grabbed his skis, walked down the steps, clicked in and skied down toward the 10-meter start. Oh, ok, maybe, just maybe, he was just curious. Maybe he wasn’t yet allowed. I had begun to formulate questions to ask him about what he learned up there, so I’d be ready when he landed the 10, again—and then he skied over to the rope tow, again, grabbed hold and rode up.

“Oh—oh! He’s going back to the 20…” I witnessed this moment with a bit of reverence. Here was my child, working out for himself, exactly how far he wanted to push, exactly which goals he wanted to accomplish, today. This, I thought, was the second of many decisions that solidified jumping as “his sport.” The first was that initial jump, three weeks earlier, from the 5m. Now, as then, he didn’t need his parents’ advice or input—just some good, supportive coaching and a boost of confidence. Here’s Meg’s video of our view from the bottom…

Here’s Julie’s video of our view from the top…

 

and here’s the trailer Seth and Lance made with some more footage, the next day.

Family Reunion Ski Trip Tips | The Official Blog of Deer Valley Resort

Spending a family reunion on skis is one of the most fun excuses I can think of for getting the gang together. And while my cousins like to travel around to other canyons, while they’re here, our family ski days are centered at Deer Valley.

Well, as “centered” as our brand of multi-generational mayhem can be.
Click the link, below, to steal our sanity-saving, fun-making tips for an awesome family reunion on the slopes.

Source: Family Reunion Ski Trip Tips | The Official Blog of Deer Valley Resort

Do you Ski at the Sundance Film Festival? | The Official Blog of Deer Valley Resort

In my life as an avid skier and a journalist, my worlds collide in funny ways. The Sundance Film Festival—which brings a huge contingent of my professional community to my front door—is a great example of this. Last year, for instance, an interview with a favorite actor proved to me that not skiing can be a win. (WHAT?!)

[Click the link below to see the full post, and to find out which actor saved me from myself.]

Source: Do you Ski at the Sundance Film Festival? | The Official Blog of Deer Valley Resort

Skiing Success Tips from Skifest | The Official Blog of Deer Valley Resort

Everything you need to know about having a great ski day, you can learn at the Deer Valley Resort Celebrity Skifest. Here’s what I found out when I chatted with some of the competitors in Deer Valley’s annual opening weekend event to benefit the Waterkeeper Alliance.

[Click below to learn how you can improve your ski day experience!]

Source: Skiing Success Tips from Skifest | The Official Blog of Deer Valley Resort

Fly, baby, fly!

“Can we go back to UOP tomorrow, so I can jump again?” Seth asked me.

“Not until Friday,” I told him.

“Oh,” he said. “That’s sad.”

Seth and I were cuddling on the couch, talking about all the fun he had learning to Nordic Ski Jump at Utah Olympic Park today. Because, what’s better than spending a Friday afternoon, when you’re eight, learning how to fly? I’ll tell you what’s better: Being 42, and watching your kid learn how to fly.

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Seth on the fly. (photo credit: Stacey Border)

I’ll admit, in the moments before he took his first run, my heart was in my throat. And then—he flew. First off the 5-meter hill, then off the 7-meter hill, and then, off the 10 meter. Like he had been doing it his whole life. I couldn’t contain my excitement. Neither could he.

 

He sure made it look that easy.

The odds may have been stacked in his favor to love it. He loves skiing, he loves the idea of getting “big air,” and one of his BFFs, Josie, has been doing it for a year, already.

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Check out Josie’s cool jumpsuit and nordic skis—almost as cool as that big grin she wears when she’s jumping (well, and most of the time).

She, too, fell in “love at ‘first-jump’,” according to her mom. Josie and their friend Daniel kept offering tips and encouragement to Seth.

Plus, the coach, Anders Johnson, a three-time Olympian who was the youngest Olympic Ski Jumper in history, is the son of a friend of ours. (And he’s a great guy who easily translates his love of the sport for the kids.) Um, cool much? (I sent his dad the following text, today: “Your kid coached my kid at UOP today. I’m a little farklempt.”)

Cooler, yet: Seth went to UOP as part of Park City Youth Sports Alliance Get Out and Play. See, Park City School District has half-day Fridays, and YSA offers lessons in multiple disciplines of several sports, on Friday afternoons:  skiing (alpine, nordic, alpine freestyle, nordic jumping), snowboarding (recreational and freestyle), skating (hockey, figure skating, speed skating), and more. YSA grants scholarships so that students who wouldn’t ordinarily get exposure to these lifetime sports get to play, too.  Kids are bused from school to sports venue, and back.

Parent volunteers buckle boots, adjust helmets, help the kids get themselves and their gear on and off the bus, offer snacks and the occasional comforting hug after a fall. I was one of those volunteers today: they let me run the rope tow —which was almost as cool as the time I was volunteering at the ski jumps during the Olympics, and someone told me to put a tank full of hot chocolate on my back and climb the steep stairs next to the jumps, so that I could offer the judges a cup of cocoa.

But nothing was as sweet as hearing my boy whoop and holler as he landed each jump, and then tell me how much he loves this sport.

So, after he asked, nicely, the third time, if he really had to wait until Friday, to jump again, we signed him up for the Hoppers program at UOP, so he can jump Tuesdays, too.

“I don’t care if I’m good at it or bad at it,” Seth said. “I just want to keep doing it.”

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This grin—proof of fun.

 

Endurance Test

Dudes, I’m getting after it, today. I went to my annual physical, and I remembered to fast and to abstain from coffee, beforehand. That was hard, man. Hard, like mining coal, you know? I mean, mining coal without the benefit of coffee. (My kids and husband were all, “Gee, we’re really sorry you can’t have coffee, today.” Because, they KNOW. I mean, once, after knee surgery, Jeff got me home, settled with my ice machine and brought me a double shot, freshly brewed, because I’d had to fast prior to the procedure. We don’t mess around.)

The doctor’s office is located across from Whole Foods, so after the exam and the nine vials of blood, and leaving with homework—mammogram— (WTF, Middle Age? You suck!),  I grabbed an oatmeal from their awesome oatmeal bar. No kidding: they serve peanut butter oatmeal alongside the regular oatmeal. And some sort of quinoa concoction. (I tried one of those for breakfast, once. I like my quinoa in the evening, thankyouverymuch.) I made mine with half peanut butter and half regular, and then piled on fruit and nuts like I was at a squirrel convention.

Anyway, while I was at Whole Foods, I stocked up on necessities. Ingredients for Jeff’s meat sauce-over-polenta dinner, for instance. A tray of sushi for my lunch (thinking ahead!) and this publication, so I can keep current on important events of our time. And, you know, other times.

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Of course, it’s for the kids, silly. In fact, I’m just going to slide it into place on the coffee table shelf and see how long it takes them to notice it. (Who wants to handicap this one? 22 seconds?)

Anyway, they have a coffee bar in Whole Foods, and I had every intention of purchasing a cup. Or a gallon. Instead, I purchased this Kombucha tea, because it promised me better brain function. Sorry, a “clear mind,” which made me laugh so hard I got really thirsty. By the way, it’s delicious, but I wish I’d been awake enough to read the ingredients and notice there is sugar within. (Coffee, stupid.)

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I’ve been home for 30 minutes, have consumed most of the tea, and I’m just as slow-witted as I was an hour ago. Whose fucking idea was it to skip the coffee???