Friday, December 30, 2011

New Article: The Sweet Science of Skiing

Penned for SkiTrax Magazine: Visit SkiTrax Here


Riding the cable car up, up, up high into the high Austrian air to the Dachstein Glacier for the first time, I get the feeling Garrison Keillor echoes on his News from Lake Wobegon when he says “All the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.” Packed six tight into the tiny aluminum tin, you can’t help but look around and think all the young women around you are strong and good-looking and above average. Here, though, this isn’t some Lake Wobegon effect – our universal, natural tendency to overestimate one’s capabilities. Rather on that first ride up to the Dachstein Glacier, you know this is the big leagues. For good reason. Standing shoulder to shoulder to Axel Teichmann, Timmy Tschanke, or Justyna Kowalczyk, one gets the very real sense they are no longer skiing in the sandlot.

As a sometime writer, mornings begin with my mind wondering off to write stories about the people I meet. One morning it’s about the fifteen-year-old Finnish girl with her father and the improbably tall Thomas Algaard. It’s then when it hits me: the three of us – all of us, really – are writing our own unique chapters to the same book on our love affair with skiing. That same morning, the clouds and the setting and the sunrise are just perfect. Fortunately, I have my Canon G9 camera tucked away in the backpack with the change of clothes, Bartlett pear and thermos full of chalky chocolate flavored recovery drink. I snap the picture and send it off to the world.



When I get back to the hotel just over two hours later, former American World Cupper Dan Simoneau (World Cup Best: 2nd; 7th 1983 World Cup Overall) has left a message. Simoneau’s terse prose reads like poetry. “Great photo, Torin. I'm jealous that you are skiing on snow that has so many drops of gold medal sweat. Rub it well. Throw some over your shoulder. Burn some to the Gods. But most importantly, melt it with hard work, focus, and determination. I believe.” Reading these words the first time sends a shiver down my spine. I know what Dan says is true.

I’ve been to the area many times before, though only in the heart of winter. The Ramsau trails wind through valley, canyon and race loops from the 1999 World Championships for a total of 180 kilometers. I could easily work for the town’s media department: I wouldn’t trade one day of skiing Ramsau for anywhere else.



And yet somehow, coming to Ramsau in October is even more special. Maybe it’s because for most, October is the toughest time of the training year. You are still putting in big hours. You are a little sick of the dryland. There really isn’t any good or consistent skiing yet. As a racer you have the itch – and a little bit of anxious anticipation – to get on with the season, and visit with those friends for whom you only seem to meet up with along the trails.

Getting into Ramsau, I flew to Munich then took the train to a tiny town in Germany where I meet up with Swiss National Teamers Mauro Gruber, Eligious Tambornino, and Martin Jaeger, sprint specialists all. Over the next two weeks, I will meet up with the Swiss athletes from time to time, though rarely for the same on-snow workout. This can be chalked up to the sweet science of cross-country ski training. The Swiss athlete’s are in specific race sharpening training for the race season’s start, coming in two week’s time. The Swiss athletes also don’t believe in doing anything except low intensity long distance training on the glacier, due to its altitude 2700M (8,370ft). Instead, they distance ski in the mornings on Dachstein, then do intensity or strength or speed in the valley below. What they miss out on in real-snow feel they feel they make up in spades with the faster movements of speedy Marwe rollerskis with the low resistance zero wheels.



For Ramsau, I’m joining up with a Norwegian team comprised from the seven small towns that border the hills around Lillehammer. These Norwegians from Team Sjusjoen are more distance-oriented and believe in getting on-snow twice a day. Unlike the Swiss or the Germans, they believe in the trade-off of doing controlled threshold intensity at this high altitude. Most days I ski with the young up-and-comer Simen Sveen. You haven’t heard of him before, but you will soon enough. As a twenty-two year old in med school, Simen was 3rd in the Norwegian Cup Series and 4th at the Norwegian National 50 kilometer.

Simen’s motivation is the kind you rarely see. The young up and comer has just tasted success. He can only see himself getting better and achieving more in the ski tracks. The longer someone can keep this feeling burning bright inside their emotional engine can say more than technique or tactics or V02 max test scores. Right now, all are headed up, up, up for Mr. Simen. It is a wordless spectacle in itself. Like all extreme but perishable actions, watching skier find their inspiration, excites the writer. It also burnishes his instinct to bear witness.

It’s not altoghether different than slide down the window on the cable car, sticking your head out into the cold alpine air and breathe in the oxygen, the sights, and the opportunities that lie ahead for you. If you have the chance to ski the Dachstein, take it. Your love affair with skiing will only go stronger. Just remember that in this little corner of the world all the women really are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

World Cup Eurosport Video Links

With Universal Sports no longer showing World Cup ski videos to the U.S. intelligentsia this season, I've found a site that is. It just might be worth a look.

Subscribe to World Cup Ski Videos to get the latest action at: http://www.youtube.com/user/WorldCupSkiVideos?ob=video-mustangbase

Rogla Skate Sprint: Part I




Rogla Skate Sprint: Part II



Rogla Skate Sprint: Part III (Men's and Women's A Finals)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Heading Home



After the ski racing scene made a stop in British Columbia's SilverStar Mountain, I headed six hours south down the Okanogan Valley to my old stomping grounds to the Wenatchee Valley. Highway 97 might not have the most recognizable name, but traveling the two lane road takes you through some of the finest agricultural country in the west. It's always interesting to head through mostly rural, largely geographically isolated towns, like those that trade in names such as Pintecton, Oroville, Brewster or Chela, where signs from a different era and brick storefronts replace the Chevron's and Golden Arches. The locales have a little more presence, a little more personality and I suspect reflect more the life people live there.



Heading home, though, has not brought an end to the mostly snowless winter. Snow is patchy at best. The first day I hit the trails I couldn't head to my familiar haunts like the little Ski Hill in Leavenworth or trails that meander along the Wenatchee River. That first day I skied the first day in an alfalfa field, rolled with an Arctic Cat snowmobile in Plain, Washington. For the meager amount of snow, and limited terrain, the skiing wasn't more than what one could expect. Also, it's always interesting to skate and glide in some new locale. That the Plain ski venue in the alfalfa fields sits next to the only road I've ever seen the backseat of a Crown Vic for - for rollerskiing outside the fogline up Beaver Hill - brought back some remembrances.



Getting back home also gave me the chance to catch up with Mr. Peck and his 5th grade class. With Chrismas Break now upon them, and the schoolwork assignments giving way to Christmas parties, the girls have told me they think I am their lucky rabbit's foot. It's been great to get back in the classroom - especially that I finished my own finals for the university learning - to catch up with Mr. Peck and connect with the kids. Yes, the days in Pacific Northwest are the perfect place to be, even if I wouldn't mind for a few more snowflakes to fall any day yet.

Until the next time. -T*

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Park City to West Yellowstone to Bozeman, Montana

The last days have been a bit of a whirlwind. Packing up the stuff of my life into boxes and moving out of my apartment.



Right after this, the racing got under way just on the outskirts of the Yellowstone National Park, the traditional opening spot for the sport in America. It'd been since all the way back in 2005 since I'd made an appearance in West. Heading back there reminded me of some of those earlier ski racing days from the days since past.



From there, it was off to my adopted team home of Bozeman, Montana for the second installment of the US Supertour. Despite still being pretty heavy - not necessarily on the bathroom scale but in the muscles - I got the quick twitch muscles firing enough for the second 2nd place in the sprint scene following the "Sprint Showdown" in West Yellowstone. Pretty much the coolest thing about the races was the hard work the race volunteers of Bozeman put in to make the race even happen. 50 degree days leading up to the races made for some hard labor of moving snow around the course. My hat goes off to the BSF crew for making even making it possible that we could race.

After a couple more days in Montana, Leif Zimmerman and a crew of other BSF athletes will light off for SilverStar, Canada and take on the Canadians on their home soil for a change.




After all this, it'll be back to visit the family for the holidays. Looking forward to a little time back in the old country and to say hi to my 5th grade class in Leavenworth taught by Mr. Peck. Should be good times.



Finally, I have to give a bon chapeau to my girlfriend for first making her way back to the big show by winning both Swiss qualifying races in Davos last weekend, then coming up even bigger on the World Cup in Dusseldorf, Germany where she left with a 4th and 15th for the weekend's efforts. Nothing like starting the off going better than ever. Maybe I should try that sometime. Least I know who to ask! All Best. Until next time. -T*

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Best Ad in Some Time: Stockholm Open



Baby Mac losing his cool while rocking a Swedish accent. Re-imagining Bjorn Borg and Arthur Ashe as uber-cool 8 year olds beside the baseline. Djokovik and his ball antics. Soderling pouting. Oh, those crafty Swedes.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Title #12, Sweetest of them all for Park City Miner XC?


From the Deseret News By Steve Mundee
SALT LAKE CITY — Considering that Park City has now won nine out of the past 10 state titles in cross country it sounds weird to say that the Miners were surprised to win the title again this year. However, that is the case with nationally ranked, No. 13 Ogden, competing.

"Nobody believed we could do it. I'm not even sure I believed it," said Park City coach Jeff Wyant. "These girls rose up."

Wyant has led the Miners to 12 total state titles during his tenure at Park City, but says that this year was one of the sweetest because they weren't expected to win the race. Wyant is also quick to credit the athletes for the program's continued strength.

"We train hard and we've been lucky getting girls who want to win," he said.

Alisse Walker and Annie Orr finished ninth and 10th, respectively. All seven Park City runners finished in the top 20, and they all finished within a 34-second window.

Ogden's team fell to third place, behind Pine View.

However, the Tigers saw athletes finish one and two individually in the race. Jamie Stokes took first place by a comfortable margin with teammate Sarah Feeny crossing the line next.

"It's been my goal for a long time," said Stokes. "I can't believe it actually happened."

She was the leader for nearly the entire race, winning with a 23-second margin.

"I didn't want to leave the race up to chance," she said.

3A Boys

Ogden edged Park City to grab their first state title since 2007.

"There is not a senior in the group, and they were hungry," said Ogden coach Dan Hall.

The Tigers were comprised of two juniors, three sophomores, and a freshman. When asked the secret for getting such a young team ready to compete so effectively coach Hall said, "It's work ethic; they want it."

Ogden wanted it so much the boys have been talking for weeks about championship rings and telling Hall that they are going to give him a Gatorade bath. Hall finished his comments by saying that the boys' victory was a relief and that "it was a sweet comeback" after the disappointing meet the girls team endured.

Ben Saarel of Park City finished first place in what he called a "crazy race," but had nothing but compliments for Jordon Cross, the second-place finisher from Ogden.

"Gross is an incredible runner and a great pace-setter," said Saarel. "He ran an incredible race."

Saarel's strategy was to hang with Cross for the majority of the race and overtake him towards the end, which worked to perfection.

###

Congrats to the Miners. Look forward to getting in a few runs before Footlocker Regionals... -Torin


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Life at the Dachstein



You know how people talk about where they work? Well, not too many places can compare to the last days at the Dachstein. Might have something to do with snow, sun, and the place being a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, a place 'forming the cultural and natural heritage of the world.'




The Austrian Alps are pretty crazy. Ramsau as a ski destination ranks at the top of my list. Now getting up in the morning and hopping on the 7:50 gondola that carries me to 2,700 meters to ski on the Dachstein glacier only confirms this.



I'm here with Team Sjusjoen. The vibe with the group is ideal. Everyday and every workout has a purpose and we're doing some real good work. At the same time, the mood and mileau is relaxed, encouraging, and really loving the opportunity we have here in Ramsau am Dachstein.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Team Sjusjoen Arrives at the Dachstein



Team Sjusjoen arrived just in time for the big snows and wind atop the Dachstein Glacier. We've been here for two days and have another two weeks here living high in the Austrian Alps. It's going to be a great camp...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Other Kinds o' Racing

Bike Magazine / Porsche Willow Springs Duathlon from Bike magazine on Vimeo.



I just finished a hi intensity training block... it's going to snow tomorrow in Park City. That should make cc practice with the high school interesting... heading to Austria in two days... yada, yada, yada. Why can't cross country skiers get in on this kind of racing action?

+Torin

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Bolt: Small Story Behind the Story



A little video I got from Ziola Gomez, three time USA World Championship Marathon team member and fellow ITA teammate that captures a little story behind the big story of the 2011 IAAF World Track Championships. After this tough night for Usain, he went on to set a world-record in the 4x100 and re-claim his 200M in 19.4 seconds, the 4th fastest time in history. I can't wait to see him and Blake and Dix and hopefully Tyson throwing down in the most epic of Olympic sprint finals next summer.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Hurry Home Early




You can feel it in the air. The winter's a coming.
Soon you'll have to put away the running shoe.
For the cold wind, it's a calling for you.
Hey it's fall. You can't be blaming me at all.


Jack & Julie point out the constellations to me.
But the Big Dipper's all I could see.


Now don't go a drinking the clear Finnish turpentine.
It'll make you blind, burn you inside.


Oh, why do we do the things we do?
Some of us have the talent. But hard work will still have to get us through.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

From the Hometown

This video comes from the descent down the local ski area access road where I grew up. The kids ripping through some prime apple, pear and cherry orchards in the Wenatchee Valley.

wenatchee teaser from Curtis Onchi on Vimeo.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Checking in with the Old Roommates



About a year ago, I moved out from Bend, Oregon. For those of you who've never spent a day in this small city oasis by the Deschutes River, it's a pretty amazing place. Volcano-made mountains frame the West. Juniper and sage and open country to the east. It's a place where one can ski through June, on either early morning crust or groomed nordic trails. As the county seat, the city of 80,000 entices a unique collection of individuals to the eastern edge of the Cascade Mountains.

The other day I received a message from an old roommate. It seems Sara Salo finished up grad school in Community Wellness at Oregon State University - yeah, that's one really long commute - and decided to take what she learned on the road. Sara's one of those people who gets an idea in her head, then goes for it. And I mean 100%.

Last time I saw Sara, we met up at Rincon Point, just south of Santa Barbara, California. I had just finished up the ski season and needed a little time with old friends and in the ocean. Sara was down there, learning from the food guru Jamie Oliver how to encourage schools to create healthier school environments. I remember her saying something about an obesity issue in America, and how schools that embraced healthy eating were making a real, tangible difference in the health of America's young'ens.

Fast forward one year and Sara's now on a solo, self-supported six-thousand mile bicycle across the United States to do all she can to help create healthier school environments. If you're someone whose interested in reading this blog, I'd really encourage you to also check out what Ms. Salo is up to.



You can follow along at: http://schoolfoodtour.org

On another note, another old roommate by the name of Carl Decker is still making it in the mountain bike scene, while driving the Wheels of Teal as well. You can check out the '92 Subaru at the X-Games here:



Until the next time. +Torin

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Perspective



The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
-Mr. Frost

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Beginnings...





In the morning hours, Bettina and I meet up with Zoe for a trek to the top of Mt. Olympus. While I don't meet Zeus at the top, the view suffices. It's then that the words from the morning's National Public Radio show "All Things Considered" come to life.

"Despite the headings and allure of some other place whose name I have now forgotten, I stay in Salt Lake. I try to leave but it seems like I have a rubber band attached. What is it that pulls me back? No place is more beautiful than the Salt Lake Valley. Other places are just as beautiful, but when it comes down to a contest, this place wins.

"Beauty is something that needs to be studied over a long period of time, and there needs to be some point of reference - these clouds over these mountains, compared to what? The city itself has the most admirable quality of a ghost town, dry as a bone and empty as a rattle. People are leaving for a better life on the Coast. I, however, wait for the coast to come to me. I get up in the hills behind my house, look out across the entire valley and see it covered by water, as it was only ten thousand years ago. I extend my arm and wave my hand across the inland sea and think, 'Someday my son, all of this will be yours.'" Right now, I can see the truth to Scott Carrier's words.



After a couple more minutes breathing in oxygen and the view, I open the mailbox, crack the cover open on a well-worn brown leather book left atop the mountain. Inside are literally a thousand different stories. Or at least five hundred. Reading gives me the idea to write. It will be a great story, with the words others leave behind in books like this weaving the fabric of the work.

Some of the writings are common and slightly scientific with the date, time and name of the summiteers and little else. Some others, like the one about running face to face with a Western Diamondback en route have a quality of humor that would make most essayists blush. The one I remember most is sad and spooky, though in the tenderest way.

Mr. B has made it to the top of the mountain, his final summit. Soon, Mr. B will be in a long slumber, dreaming of the lions. This isn't a sad story because Mr. B has lived a good life. He knows it and has shared his happiness with others. Like mud, Mr. B soon awaits his return to dust.

Afterwards, we jump a fence, then jump directly into a poorly attended hotel pool. The water's refreshing and much needed before tackling the concrete jungle that awaits.

In the Westminster College parking lot, it's decided. New Hampshire's Live Free or Die license plate has nothing on Wyoming's. The Lone Cowboy riding the bucking bronc, a black silouette on brown mountains and mesa's cannot be beat by the Granite State or any of the other forty-eight states. I stop by the university bookstore, pick up seven used books as Bettina and I get to witness the one true great American right of passage.

On campus, I'm greeted by student RN's in loud green shirts. Kids much too young to be heading off to college mill around, a look on their faces matched with the just realizing understanding Dad slipped them a couple Andrew Jackson's to hold them over before the college cafeteria opens on Monday. And no matter how many Hot Pockets they plan to consume from now until then, there will be plenty of extra bucks to blow on booze, if only they had a fake i.d. Or knew someone older, as just about everyone around them is eighteen as well. On the way to the bookstore, I swing through some social schindig, steal about a half a pineapple in slices and a cup of punch on a hot summer's day. Yes, it's the simple things in life.

Then it hits me. Five years and a couple more days ago, I started coaching these kids what I knew about track and field, but mostly track, at Eastmont Junior High School. Now those kids are either heading off to college or hitting hammer to nail. Hannah and Jake, Cristian and Khloe, all heading off into different directions throughout the west, like dust in the the wind, just waiting to be turned to mud.

Friday, August 5, 2011

High in the Canadian Rockies

After a couple months of building websites and battling out ethical debates in the classroom with my Westminster classmates, the time finally came to make a ski pilgrimage up north with Leif Z, Bettina and a whole crew of Bozeman skiers. My first time heading to Canmore, Alberta was also my first ever NorAm race series. Since then, I've been back three times for World Cup comps. Every time, the trails and town has treated me well. Now, it's pretty special to spend a couple weeks in the less-snowy months and get to know the mountains, the trails and the town a little bit better.




After a four hour run up, over and around Sentinel Pass, the icy cool waters of Lake Louise were a perfect way to end the morning session. More than a couple tourists visiting the environs couldn't believe a crew of us would soak our bodies in the frigid waters for a quarter-hour.





At the top of Sentinel Pass, Bettina decided to try her best imitation of the white tailed ptarmigan flying over the mountain meadows.




Losing the arm brace has allowed me to get back into the running groove as well. It feels good to move via foot... and via rollerskis again.



Until the next time. +

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Pioneer Days


In Utah, this weekend is Pioneer Day. The Mormon pioneers were one of many groups of settlers that traveled West in the 1800’s. The 24th of July marks the day when Brigham and his brigade looked down Emigration Canyon onto the Great Salt Lake and proclaimed. "This is the place." Luckily for these pioneers, they found a freshwater stream to go along with a lake that's five times saltier than the sea.

In Utah, July 24th is kind of a big deal. So after climbing Mount Timponogos from the early morning through to the afternoon, I made my way down to celebrate with some friends at the S Bar Ranch in Birdseye, Utah. Open air, a field of horses, a herd of cattle, a plethora of ATVs, and apple pie and there is little doubt one is in America.




After turning in the medical books for the year, Bettina made an American reappearance last week. I tried telling her I got a great deal on this little former sheephearder house but after one night it was back to the city we went.



I never would have thought I'd see a Audi Q7 (msrp 59450) towing hay. I guess that's just how some newby Park City ranchers roll.



Judging by the hardpan clay dirt underneath, I'd say Park City Mountain is being a little overambitious, a little misleading with its ski report these days.



After seven weeks of constant use, my surgeon said the time was right to rid myself of the sling and to start getting the range of motion and the strength back in my right arm. During this time, I've been banking long hours, low in intensity, high in the mountains. Here, my old college roommate Colby Frazier joined me for trek up Mount Olympus in the Wasatch Range.

For me, the grad summer school days are just about at an end, and its off for a little training vacation to Alberta, Canada next week.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Much Respect



Still looking up at that mountain, chopping it down with the side of my hand. Big congrats are in order for both the In The Arena roster athletes and ITA Team New Hampshire for the performances over the week at the toughest World Championship Trials in the World, the USA Track & Field National Championships on historic Hayward Field. I look forward to watching Mr. Hazle and Ziola in Daegu. If not in person, then at least on the flat screen. Much respect.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Summer Camp: Westminster College Style

While school's just getting out for the kids in the classroom, I'm halfway through the summer semester, working on getting a little learning on these next few months and a little closer to earning my master's degree. And one of the summer endeavors - Intro to Teaching Writing - well, it might as well be an extension of the ITA spring days. The class has some reading and theory about the various modes of teaching writing. And you know there's some real lively class debates about the merits of social constructionism versus current-traditionalism as the ideal primary mode of teaching writing. But the real coup de grace of the class comes in our actual teaching. For three days, select students from three inner-city junior high school in Salt Lake City will be getting the real college experience - from dorms to dining hall to classroom instruction. Except, instead of having tenured professors giving the lecturers, it will be me and my classmates. Here's my first little piece I wrote for the class on how I hoped to use my In The Arena experience to effectively connect and teach junior highers who were previously labeled academically unable. Read on, if interested.

###

Skiers and Dreamers, to acquire excellence, must start young. There is, from my experience, no other way. What does this have to do with schooling and writing and teaching, you say? Read on, and in my rambling writing might become less grey.

For two summers of my youth, I did the Westminster MPC summer school gig. Then, I left Zion and headed back West. During this time, I kept the day job. Instead of summer school, though, I picked up a little something on the side – coaching junior high cross-country and track.

Before I jumped into coaching, I read up. I felt a duty to be an asset, not a thorn in these youngster’s development. I remembered my own early days of athletics, running into teammates overcome with fear of failing in competition, hiding out under the bathroom bleachers. I felt with my inexperience in coaching, reaching these kids, making them see competition as something in the words of the late great Steve Prefontaine – the opportunity “to make something beautiful when we run” instead of being near paralyzed by the fear of failure. I knew before I ever set foot on the track as a coach this was my greatest challenge, this would be my Moby Dick. Instead of reading books on training physiology, it was more psychology centered.

In coaching the seventh and eighth graders I wanted to build self-efficacy. I wanted to build within them the belief that they will be able to better handle whatever the future throws at them. My reasons for doing this were selfish. If I could connect with thirteen and fourteen year olds and get them to change their perception of their ability I would be reconstructing within myself these same beliefs.

The coach Jumbo Elliott liked to tell his troops at Villanova to “keep running until you can smell the roses.” That is, to get to a point of conditioning and callusing that strenuous physical exercise becomes more than sidestiches, soreness and six a.m. morning runs. When I read Hemingway write about writing, the man had to keep writing until he found his muse. He had a devotion to his craft. He had to head to the caf├ęs and write, and write daily. Somedays he’d write 2,500 words, all for naught. But he still had to write them. The daily experience would finally awaken an explosion of interest and the writer would capture this with pen hitting paper. These are lines we’ve read then carry with us always. For me, one of these passages came from Norman McLean’s last lines of A River Runs Through It.

Eventually all things merge together and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops, under the rocks are words and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by these waters.

I felt the most important responsibility a coach has is building the team and environment the team inhabits. From here the athlete can chase peak experiences in the competition arena or come out for sport to be part of a social club that happens to exercise. A coach, in my opinion, cannot build another’s desire or toughness or resolve. But the coach can aid the athlete in cultivating these skills and help the channel it. When Bill Bowerman said, “Tigers are tigers” I believe he was expressing a similar sentiment.

So how do I help build the Cascade exercise-as-a-way-of-life movement? By tweaking what I see as the prevailing, and antiquated, American definition of success and failure in sports. Most people interpret winning as a standard for success. Instead, imagine if success - and its ancillary doppelganger, failure – became a psychological state, not an objective one. Success and failure no longer need express themselves merely in win-loss outcomes. Rather, performance becomes a series of process goals leading to personal accomplishment. No longer is anything less than winning a threat, a threat that increases a young athlete’s fear of failure.

“An avoidance of failure is a self- perpetuating process that serves to exacerbate the tendency to avoid failure, leading to more mistakes and failures,” is how a peer-reviewed article titled “Why Young Athletes Fear Failure: Consequences of Failure” puts it. To me, this says those who fear failure the most are also the most likely to experience it the most. And that’s not ideal. I feel writing is the same way, only instead of expressing oneself kinetically, it’s through words.

The normal reaction to threats, real or imagined, is fear. I wanted the young Cascade Mountain Lions to be part of a team burdened by simplistic definitions of success or of failure. I told myself, then the team, we will hold ourselves to a higher, more enlightened standard. The budding athletes will not toe the line in an emotional state defined by words like apprehensive or scared. With writing, it’s the same way. We all need the latitude to express ourselves and build up within us the capacity to not be confronted with a stimulus and see it endangering our values and goals. Instead, to help the three schools we have the opportunity to meet with and work with later this month, and help them get just that little bit closer to bask in the expressive beauty of writing.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

In Motion



After an extended tour of duty at the ITA's western-most outpost, it was time to hit the open roads for Park City, Utah and a summer stint of grad school at Westminster College.



Before leaving the Evergreen State behind, though, I had an appointment with the surgeon. Apparently, I'd been skiing the last part of the season with a shoulder in serious need of repair. Dr. Rossi ably sewed back up my shoulder. If my shoulder was a timepiece, it would have been sewn up from the 11 O'Clock to 7 O'Clock position. Now, I get to wear this instant conversation starter 24hours a day for six more weeks. At least Stein Erikson doesn't seem to mind. Being in Park City works great for this, as I can hike up the still snowy mountains, then download on the lifts back to where I began. Probably only endurance-minded athletes would be stoked to ride chairlifts down the mountain.



Clarence Clearwater may have never seen the good side of a city until he saw it from a riverboat. I think the same can be said for the view of the city from a mountain top. The air is cleaner, the blues are bluer, and the sound of silence is startling.



The leaves, they are a changing. Stay tuned for more updates through the summer months.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

In the Wenatchee Valley: Live4Adventure

Community Adventure Race Set for Apple Bowl
By Torin Koos



The Wenatchee Valley’s a buzz about a new race set to take place Saturday evening, May 21st in the Apple Bowl arena and adjacent parks.

If you ever turned the television to ABC’s Wipe Out and wanted to get off the couch to take on an obstacle course with the big balls and water and mayhem, the Live4Adventure organizers had you in mind.

Just like on the small screen, announcers will provide a running commentary of race proceedings from atop the Apple Bowl control tower. Also at the three stages of the relay event, course-side commentators will be out to provide a little color as the teams navigate through the course.

The first part of the three-leg relay tackles a hay-bail and foot high hurdle-adorned bike route. The flag-lined course snakes its way out through the grass fields of Triangle and Pioneer Parks. The cycling stage is hosted by Wenatchee Valley Medical Center who partnered with local biker John Scarfotti to design a course to test ten year olds, offers a something for elite bikers, and above all else is safe. “The seven-to-ten minute ride will give the racers a taste of the madness of cyclo-cross racing,” said local physician and Live4Adventure board member Stuart Freed. “For the experienced racer, this won’t be a significant cycling challenge. For this athlete, the event is about coming out and enjoying a big community event. For a ten year old, though, it might just open their eyes about what you can do on a bike.”

From here, teams hand off to the second racer for the Sport Skills & Games Stage. Combining elements inspired by NBC’s Minute to Win It, racers are told to expect the unexpected. “No one will be able to achieve a high level of expertise at all the venues,” said Dr. Freed.

Stemilt Growers hosts the Sport Games Stage. “At Stemilt, we’re all about promoting community, education and health. And the Live4Adventure hits a homerun in all these areas,” said Courtney Mathison. “It’s about getting kids and adults fired up for sport in a way that gives back to the schools.

“Its such a tragedy to see that happening with obesity taking so much of our kids life, said Mrs. Mathison, a former pediatric physical therapist. “My passion is health and fitness in children. Most won’t become an Olympic athlete. Yet everyone can be a participant, a player.

“For someone like me that grew up in Texas, the Ridge2River was a scary event. Even to watch was a challenge. I call the Live4Adventure the no excuses race.”

The third and final stage is the Biosports Strength and Agility Course. Physical therapist Michael Hanson has three decades worth of human movement expertise gained from helping to heal everyone from Joe Montana to the regular Joe. Whether it’s flipping combine tractor tires or navigating an aquatic course with kayaks in Pioneer Park’s 50 meter pool, look for the team at Biosport to set a new standard in obstacle courses.

“Sitting in the Apple Bowl, you’ll be able to see the whole race,” said Dr. Freed. “In the stands, it’s going to be a riot. This is the perfect race to take your place in the field. This is a race to wear a costume to.”

For more information visit: www.live4adventure.org or contact 509-885-4231. Scholarships to have the race fee waived are available by writing an essay on your greatest adventure. “We want to be inspired,” say race organizers.