Life on the Mountain
Giving Us Wings
Giving us wings.
That was the title of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) film featured at last Saturday’s Janss Pro Am Awards Dinner. It had shots of young local athletes in GS courses, flying out of the halfpipe, competing in Boarder-X, pushing the limit in Nordic races, high-fiving, fist-pumping, smiling, killing it in the bumps and soaring off jumps in the terrain parks. It showed them with wings.
SVSEF athletes with their wings on.
At the end of the ten-minute video, local phenom, SVSEF Gold Team Athlete and recently named US Freestyle Ski Team Member, Tai Barrymore appeared on the screen. Tai’s epic halfpipe run from his Dew Tour win earlier this season was contrasted with younger SVSEF athletes. The screen flashed back and forth from his skill and power to the early stages of competitive athleticism and growing pains of the younger athletes. It was a powerful moment. Watching where athletes begin and where they can go. At the end of the segment, Tai appeared on screen (in a borrowed interview from whatever big news station broadcast the competition). He looked straight at the camera and thanked his coach and his parents. “I wouldn’t be here without you.”
In the most simplistic and stereotypical way, Tai’s parents gave him wings. Each of the young, aspiring athletes in the video was also given wings. By a parent, a coach, a teacher, a role model, a friend. Or maybe it’s the sport, the snow, the mountains or the team that gives them wings. We all get our wings from somewhere, from someone, from something.
This video got me thinking about all the things in our lives that give us wings. All the things in our lives that give us peace, make us smile, teach us strength and make us soar. What are these things? Are we appreciating each one (or at least one) every single day? Is it just skiing, the literal feeling of floating down mountains made for the gods? Or is it more than that?
I recently saw a picture on Facebook from last Sunday’s Annual Cold Bowl Pond Skim at Dollar Mountain. A ski patrolman was wading into the cold water to rescue a safe but stranded skimmer and above him, literally flying out of the air, was a grown man in a parrot costume. Under the photo was the caption, “This one sums up the fun of living in a ski town... A parrot jumping over the Ski Patrol into a pond that he just snowboarded across!” It seems that quite literally, living in a ski town gives us wings.
I am pretty sure that powder days give us wings. And definitely, sunny après afternoons with friends, they give us wings. Fly-fishing buddies who share their sweet spot give us wings. Parents who support us through ski team (and soccer team and ice skating and hockey and basketball and then college) give us wings. That one teacher who always swings a yardstick like a golf club gives us wings. Friends who show strength and teach us love in moments of unimaginable trial. The first sunny day of spring. Knowing that the ski season will be back next year and mountain bike season is here, that gives us seasonal wings. Challenge gives us wings. Success gives us wings. Our failures give us wings too. The quiet bike path and the bright yellow stars in the clear Idaho sky. Kind little brothers give us wings. Skiing gives us wings. Traveling gives us wings. Home gives us wings.
These are things that give me wings every single day. What gives you yours?