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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Sundance: Skiing, Screenings and Stars | The Official Blog of Deer Valley Resort

So, if last year’s experience taught me that it’s OK not to ski during Sundance, this year I proved that the Sundance Film Festival + skiing = Awesome.

Click below to read more about my Sundance 2016 experience

Source: Sundance: Skiing, Screenings and Stars | 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.

seth on the fly

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.