#OmniGames: The Experience

Saturday morning was a whirl of hugs, goodbyes, breakfast, and more goodbyes. After I found myself settled at the gate, the cumulative impact of the trip hit me.

Wasatch

Finally at a moment where things seemed still, I started to cry. In the moment I wasn’t really sure what I was crying about. I’m still struggling with the words to describe how things felt because they alternated between feeling so darn normal to overwhelming, empowering, and just plain awesome.  Each piece of the the experience had been almost but not quite overwhelming but taken as a whole from my seat in the Salt Lake City airport I felt incredibly lucky.

What was so overwhelmingly awesome?

  • #Tryingstuff

In one respect, #trying stuff is just normal life for me. In January 2012, F and I decided that in November, just two months after our wedding, we would move into a van. Since then, “normal life” has become a giant adventure in #tryingstuff: five different vehicles, pauses to work odd jobs, new places, exploring, and more.

That being said, dog sledding, archery, VIP tents, delicious food, and ropes courses are not usually on the docket. Neither is hanging out with 30+ new friends—friends that also like #tryingstuff. Having #tryingstuff engrained in everyone around you for five days is something that I wish I had all the time; I’d be so much better for it! It is fair to say that I have never been surrounded by such a concentration of people with stories to tell!

  • Competing (and succeeding) in the #omnigames

Confession: I was afraid to divulge my feelings on the competition internet. The #omnigames were so much fun but simmering under the surface of all the #omniten members was some serious competitive drive. With so many people wanting to win so badly it almost seems gauche to speak about the “feelings” of a front runner. However, in the name of #tryingstuff, here goes:

Coming to Utah, it was my intention to play hard and have fun at the games. I’d followed the #omniten’s blogs and Twitter accounts long enough to know that the competition would be strong. However, those who know me understand that my competitive streak runs wide.

Day 1 was all about wholeheartedly #tryingstuff and getting to know Justin. Once we realized we’d done well, it upped the ante for Day 2 (and hearing it confirmed in the standings only intensified the feeling). From the moment archery went well until I hopped on that last chair lift, each event escalated my excitement, the pressure, and empathy for those teams around me.

After completing the first half of the upper ropes course, I started looking ahead to the ski competition. And getting nervous (I paced between lunch and the start of the skiing…). All around me I was hearing people talk about making up ground and I was just afraid I wouldn’t be able to help Justin maintain our position. The moment we started skiing, however, I was back to having fun. I skied hard and knew I gave it my best effort; there was a palpable feeling of relief when I got on my last chair lift though!

In the end, I felt extremely proud of Justin and I. The games had been empowering and a shining example of the highest level of sportsmanlike competition I have ever seen or heard of.

Thank you all: this was the best!

  • Columbia

Columbia really went above and beyond in putting together a seriously awesome time in Park City. Attending the unveiling of their designs for the US, Canadian, and Russian freestyle ski teams really was worthy of the tag #inspiredbygreatness. The variety of activities they picked for the #omnigames was really amazing and allowed a huge number of #omniten to show off their skills. The fashion show was a great cap to the week with amazing food, free flowing drinks, and a look at what’s coming down the pipe this fall.

Further more, I’m really excited to take the Turbo Down (and all the other gear!) out for more test drives in the mountains. (Ahem, and hopefully test some gear in Jordan…) A company that asks for real feedback from its reviewers deserves respect. Moreover, it was emphasized the being part of the #omniten was “for life” and I’m excited to continue building a relationship with Columbia.

Wiping my tears in the airport, I smiled. This was an experience I was extremely lucky to have been a part of for these reasons and so many more. I’ll remember this adventure forever.

Grand Canyon

#OmniGames: Day 2

Ropes Course
Photo courtesy WildernessDave.com

The morning of #omnigames Day 2 dawned snowy and blustery. Despite the excitement surrounding fresh snow for the upcoming ski challenge, the wind was putting a crimp in the plans in place for the Utah Olympic Park ropes course. The weather forced the cancellation of a couple of events but the ski challenge was lengthened from one hour to an hour and a half.

Our first event was completing two ropes courses: “Canyon” and “Summit.” The Canyon course is about 25 feet off the ground while the Summit course is about 55 feet off the ground and is called “advanced.”

Ropes Course
Photo courtesy WildernessDave.com

First up for #omniteam2 was the Canyon course. Justin and I both completed it easily. We were way more excited about the Summit course; as Justin put it: “If I don’t feel like I might die, it’s just not fun.” Although the Summit course didn’t make us feel like we might die, it was challenging enough to be really fun. The obstacle pictured above seemed to cause a lot of people some trouble but by relying more on my legs than my arms I made it through just fine.

Since we both completed both the high and the low ropes course cleanly, the pressure was starting to build. Skiing seemed as if it would work out fairly well for us considering although neither of us are expert skiers we’re both solid intermediates who were determined to rack up some vertical in our hour and a half.

Dave and Beth
Photo courtesy Dave

Making our game plan we’d considered time to get to the lift, how busy a lift might be, how fast it runs, and how fast we’d be able to make it back to the chair. Once on the ground, the plan was sacrificed for immediate expediency. It got a little hairy for a second when the gondola came to a halt—fortunately I was sharing it with fellow #omniten Dave so no one judged me for freaking out. Reviewing with Justin after the event, it sounded like he had a fantastic time as did I.

The conclusion of the vertical challenge meant the end of the physical portion of #omnigames (you’re reading my contribution to the final challenge right now). After two intense days of competition, we all quickly changed for our final event: Columbia’s Fall 2014 fashion show!

Photo courtesy Anne Carney Photography
Photo courtesy Anne Carney Photography

Hanging out on the patio, we dinned on delicious hors d’ouvres (the Kobe beef bites were a particular hit) before moving indoors for the show and dinner. The evening concluded with a chance to meet Columbia designers, members of the press, and our fellow #omniten.

Columbia Fall 2014 Fashion Show

Post Fashion Show Dinner

Back at the hotel, we were promised updated #omnigame results so we rendezvoused in the Hub one more time. Results were announced, plans were made to help injured Gina get her car back to SLC, and tequila was procured in the waning hours of the #omnigames. For some, the party continued into the wee hours of the morning, unwilling to let the amazing feeling of the past week slip away.

#OmniGames: World Cup Mogul Finals

At the conclusion of Day 1 of the #omnigames, we shuttled back to the hotel to get cleaned up for the next big adventure: watching the Freestyle World Cup Mogul finals from the VIP tent! Columbia dished up a whole slew of amazing experiences during #omnigames but this was hard to beat. Justin and I were in an awesome mood after a great day of competition and ready for some relaxation slopeside:

#omniteam2
Photo courtesy Justin Lukasavige

From the time we got off the bus and started up the hill with this view:

World Cup Moguls Course

To walking into the warm, food and drink filled VIP tent:

Photo courtesy 100 Peaks
Photo courtesy 100 Peaks

And most of all, seeing the athletes rock their skills on the hill:

FIS World Cup Deer Valley Moguls Finals

FIS World Cup Deer Valley Moguls Finals

FIS World Cup Deer Valley Moguls Finals

FIS World Cup Deer Valley Moguls Finals

A great time was had by all the #omniten bonding as we stood outside in the chill and laughing over drinks in the VIP tent. I shared this happy GIF from Gina already but I think it is the perfect illustration of the sort of time we were all having:

Photo courtesy Gina Begin
Photo courtesy Gina Begin

#OmniGames: Season 4

Storytelling is one of the oldest arts humans have. Present in all cultures, the art of telling a story worth hearing from even the most exciting adventures is a skill. Skilled storytellers are able to evoke strong responses from their listeners such that they want to hear more of a story.

When Columbia named the story telling challenge “Charles Dickens” they set a very high bar. Each Christmas, I reread A Christmas Carol and am fascinated by the imagery that the long Victorian sentences evoke and his Tale of Two Cities is one of my favorite books of all time. Outdoors story telling (which is the best of storytelling about #tryingstuff) has a storied history of its own with greats like Ed Abbey and Jon Kraukour setting a high bar.

While I’ve got a little extra #tryingstuff up my sleeve in the storytelling department, I’m going to do my best to tell the story of what happened on an amazing trip to Park City in the best way I know how: words. (With a few photos thrown in for good measure!) May the words of the greats inspire my fingers! And now, without ado, my #omniten adventure:

 

Season 4 had a very special experience at the #omnigames. The trip to Park City was our very first trip as members of the #omniten: unlike the members of the Spring 2012 and 2013 crews and Fall 2012 group we were showing up not knowing as many people. The trip had seemed like it was a long time coming but it was finally time to make the journey. I left Quartzsite, Arizona in the wee hours last Monday excited for any adventures Columbia could cook up.

Hyatt Escala Park City

Arriving at the hotel, I was whisked up to the #omniten Hub, signed my life away (snowmobiling, what?!), and given the game plan for the evening. Here’s where the nomad girl in me got (even more) excited: shower everyday for the next weekTori thought this was slightly odd and encouraged me to shower that minute. True to #omniten form, I was able to find some people who totally understood me and my excitement:Gina and Katie.

Up in my room (post shower of course), I rummaged through the giant duffle bag of Columbia gear that I’d been given. Trying on the gear I alternated between total gear junky delight and vehicle dweller panic: so much great stuff! so little room! Refreshed and excited, I headed down to the Hub where I met the rest of the crew. I’d already made real life contact with Josh before at OR Show but before I knew it I was chatting with Patrick in the shuttle, being hugged by Heidi, in turn hugging Dave, meeting Seth and his beard, chatting wine with Derek, and feeling intimidated by the ski prowess of Andy. Sadly, I also learned due to weather back east Wendy wouldn’t be joining us and that Michelle was delayed.

#omniten #s4
Photo courtesy Patrick Gensel

After introductions were made and beers were opened, Daniel gave us a rundown on Columbia’s #tryingstuff philosophy starting with this video. Then he gave us a rundown on the rest of our week: skiing, Olympic freestyle uniform unveiling press conference, a concert in downtown Park City, going to the VIP tent for the World Cup Mogul final, and then the enigmatic #omnigames.

Foie gras, The Farm

The Season 4 bonding really kicked off that night over an awesome dinner at The Farm. #tryingstuff was in full effect with foie gras, bone marrow, rabbit and more. Heidi, Josh, and I also did some teamwork practice by ordering three different entrées and three different desserts to sample them all! The party continued back at the hotel as the first of our nights in the hot tub.

Photo courtesy Run.Around.Aroo
Photo courtesy Heidi Kumm

Tuesday morning it was time for me to get back on skis for the first time in five years. I knew that I hadn’t forgotten how but I was a bit worried I would be able to keep up with the rest of the group. Pointing my skis down the hill outside ski valet, heart in my throat, I found that I was able to cruise right down to the lift and my spirits immediately rose. Skiing with the group was the best. It was fun to have people to laugh with. Although I cut my afternoon session a bit short, I was pleased with the fact my legs weren’t too sore after being on the slopes (must have been the sand running).

Photo courtesy Patrick Gensel
Photo courtesy Patrick Gensel

The next morning was super exciting: the rest of the #omniten were starting to roll into town! I’ve been following a whole lot of these people via Twitter for a long time and was pumped to finally meet them. After a morning ski session, Season 4 was in for one more special treat just for us: attending the press conference unveiling the Olympic Freestyle uniforms for the United States, Canada, and Russia.

Team USA skicross uniform

Going to a press conference doesn’t sound that exciting but when you’re a huge Olympic geek like me, this was an awesome experience. Being some of the first to glimpse the uniforms (and being put on a social media gag order until later that evening), I started to feel that little tingle of energy that indicates something awesome. That something was listening to some of the American athletes talk about their Olympic experiences. There’s no denying it: I teared up listening to Heather McPhie talk about walking into an Olympic stadium with Team USA.

Beth with US Olympic Athletes

After the press conference, we headed to downtown Park City and the No Name Saloon to unite with the rest of the #omniten. I’m so glad that we were able to arrive early to spend some time together as a smaller unit. I don’t doubt for a second that if the #omnigames would have pitted season against season we’d have been a tough crowd to beat.

More awesome storytelling of this awesome #omniten adventure headed your way tomorrow!

Season 4 at Deer Valley Press Conference
Photo courtesy Daniel Green