Here's to the Parents of Athletes

My parents left last weekend once their 2017 Sundance volunteer activities wrapped up. We didn't get to spend as much time together this year, yet we fit in a few meals and I met them for a goodbye coffee before they drove home to Montana.

This last week, I had several interactions with parents of athletes which made me reminisce about my parents involvement in my athletic career. In the 80's and 90's, they covered countless miles in the Toyota Tercel across the 4th largest state and beyond for my brother and me. I'm grateful they had the means to be there for every event and for the sacrifices they made.

They participate in their own sporting events now and they must have put a lot of those interests on hold in order to support us emotionally and financially. They continue to attend sporting events in their hometown to cheer on the next generation and in a few years will add more miles in order to support their athletic grandchildren. They will also be supporting the environment in their new Toyota Prius!

Throughout the week, I had discussions with coworkers about their athletic children. I don't work with many soccer moms, but plenty of winter sports moms. There's a downhill skier competing in major races and narrowing in on college, a young skier dealing with injury, and a traveling hockey team. These moms are juggling their athletes along with their career, commutes, husbands, and other children. I'm impressed every day and often think of my mom and her juggling skills.

Sundance had just exited stage left, when the next two events moved into Park City. The FIS Nordic Junior and U23 World Ski Championships are in Soldier Hollow and Olympic Park, while Deer Valley is hosting the FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup. We swapped out movie stars in black for athletes in gore-tex. Along with those athletes, plenty of parents, coaches, and support staff.

We've bundled up and watched the mogul competition under the lights at Deer Valley almost every year we've lived here, but this year, college basketball and nordic skiing were the priorities.

Last night, I drove down to the University of Utah campus to watch the Utes host the Huskies. The Washington women are ranked 10th and very impressive. They have superstars Kelsey Plum and Chantel Osahor leading a roster of skilled athletes that work well together. The Utes hung with them for a bit, but then were overpowered and lost 82-53. I sit behind the visiting team to watch the coaching and team interactions. This is also where the supporters of the visiting team sit, consisting of parents and occasional alumni. Last night, I sat behind two sets of parents and felt for them as they watched their daughters. Even in a 30 point blowout, there are highs and lows and the dreaded chance of injury.

Tip Off - Utes vs Huskies

Close enough to hear the time-out strategies

Today, we drove to Soldier Hollow after Pilates and skiing, to watch the 5K Nordic Combined race. There weren't many random spectators at the venue. We ran into a few friends, but otherwise the crowds were made up of local nordic clubs, volunteers, coaching staff, and parents. We watched up on the hill where we could see the entire race and twice up close. It was a popular spot for the team staff, so we were immersed in many languages and spare poles. The Italian parents I had seen earlier in the week were there, plus parents of the USA skiers. The forerunners were local TUNA kids and their parents were there too. It was a fun environment, as I tried to capture in pictures and video.

Straight from Skiing to the World Championships
From Winter Olympics 2002 to World Championships 2017 - Soldier Hollow knows how to host an event

TUNA Forerunners - fresh corduroy and memories to last forever

Team Russia awaiting the start
When it's almost 50F, just wear the race bib and go for it!
Top American Ben Loomis (9th) - his parents wore custom Loomis shirts and were on the hill

The winner Vinzenz Geiger from Germany with a commanding lead up the last hill
Middle of the pack grinding up the last hill while we overlook Midway/Heber Valley

Italian Parents and Coach (31)

Team Italia rehashing the race

2017 Nordic Combined World Champions - Germany, Finland, France