Interesting comments and history from Walt Cherry regarding this year’s cover photo, above: Walt writes: I’d swear the jumper is Toralf Engen, ’64 Olympics, Innsbruck. I was trial riding for the Games- it just looks really familiar- and only 54 years ago! Engen was #1 every day, training and comp- Balfanz was as consistent every day at #3 behind Brantzeig- Gene Kotlarek was suffering w/ a cold/flu.. . I had fun: my forerunner bib gave me more rides every day (Seefeld & Innsbruck) than the competitors.
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Now, on with the show…
Park City Ski and Snowboard
Stories about Nordic Combined are, more often than not, written with motion verbs. Jumping, flying, crashing, skiing, landing, soaring, speeding, falling, racing, competing, winning. This particular story is being written about motionless verbs. Sitting, resting, preparing, breathing, thinking, Zenning, quieting, emptying.
Watching your kiddo and their young teammates actually ski jump is crazy cool, equal parts crazy and cool. Watching them almost ski jump is 100% phenomenal. USA Nordic’s motto is Courage, Confidence, Character. To see the courage that it takes for your little human to sit on that bar, atop that jump, having been flagged, hesitating then hesitating some more than letting go, makes your spirit shine. You’re not up there their coach isn’t up there, you know who’s up there? Their teammates, their single digit or preteen teammates who now dawn the preverbal hats of parent and coach and friend when in times of hesitation. Wisdom, empathy, compassion, patience and solidarity permeate and radiate up there in this moment and it’s a special thing. This is the best of sport. Try to name another sport where this happens.
It’s not unlike the pivotal scene in the classic film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory when Charlie, in the bustling street, between the candy store and the newsstand opens the fateful chocolate bar, as a viewer, your experience thus far has been enmeshed with the unobtrusive score. Just then, silence. Wait for it. Golden ticket. Just then at the jump venue, silence. It’s a special thing. Coaches nor parents yell to the athlete to hurry. We get it, you do you up there. Have one. After they jump kids move forward in life knowing that if I can do this, I can do anything. Stories about Nordic Combined often describe major parts of an athlete’s body like quads, hips and shoulders , however, to this parent, when the top two knuckles of those cute ‘ittle fingers uncurl ~ that’s courage.