|USANS LEADERSHIP TEAM SHOWING THEIR SPIRIT! Executive Director, Signe Jordet and Board Chairman, Kevin McAllister at Utah Olympic Park. Kevin is a professor at Springfield College (Spirits) where Signe got her masters in sports marketing.|
As our family trimmed the Christmas tree, I noticed that we don’t have a traditional, coordinated ornament pattern, instead we have memories- memories of family trips (Niagra Falls, Yellowstone, Disney World) family occasions (weddings, first Christmases, etc.) and the winter season which includes many ski and snow related themes, including numerous snowmen, snowflakes, and of course skiing. Most of the latter are memories of ski trips toBig Sky, Jackson Hole, Winter Park, and Tremblant. We even have our family represented by moose on a lift.
What is important about these ornaments/memory, is that each tells a story. Usually a family story of traveling and skiing, two of our favorite fun family activities. Some we have had for many years even before children, and we are missing a few after a tree calamity where many of our favorite ornaments shattered and left the five year old (at the time) inconsolable for a couple of days. However, What that Christmas disaster couldn’t erase were the memories we share as a family.
There is an additional family now in the ski jumping and Nordic combined community, and I don’t have many memories….yet. I rely on the the stories passed down by the many who have celebrated, toiled, recruited, developed and support the ski sports in our community. People who have traveled to the jumping Meccas of the world – winning, losing, competing, showcasing the sports we all support and love. These are the people with the stories we need to hear.
One of these master story tellers is Rex Bell. The picture above is us standing just below the knoll at the US Nationals -large hill this past summer in Park City. There isn’t much that Rex hasn’t done for the sport, including coaching, board member, Eastern Director, event organizer and donor. He is a literal Rexopedia of knowledge. I listened to Rex regale Tiger Shaw and his wife about the finer points of ski jumping including the reminder that ski jumping is the only sport where, once you have committed down the in run, you are committed – there is no turning back. How the Germans and others are leading the way in experimenting and refining the sports. How jumpers used to pull on the outseam of their suits to replicate Rocky the flying squirrel as they navigated the air down the slope. How Rex used to smoke cigarettes (unlike Clinton, he really didn’t inhale) to gauge the wind to which was relayed up the hill to direct the jumpers. This wasn’t the first time I had heard these stories. But he never tired of telling the stories to someone new, especially to an Alpiner like Tiger.
Rex isn’t coaching anymore, but he does chair the Competition Committee and serves as Vice President of the USANS Board. He commits time, energy, his considerable knowledge, and money to a cause he has devoted most of his life to. I know there are others who have done much of the same (Alan Johnson, Billy Demong, Jeff Hastings, Jim & Joe Holland) but I haven’t heard all their stories yet. I am looking forward to hearing more by the way.
Today, I am also publicly nominating Rex for the Ptarmingon Award for service to the community and sport for everything he has done. If you want to hear what he has done, you will have to ask him personally because he doesn’t share that often. He does what he does selflessly, and without much fanfare. But I would like to publicly thank him and recognize him for what he does, even if he won’t take credit for it.
Sure there have been a couple of ‘tree calamities’ in the past couple of years for both sports, but the story tellers keep reminding us about the special memories and histories of these ski disciplines. Why there is a future for ski jumping and Nordic combined. And I am looking forward to the next memory in our future. We just need to see who will become the next Rex Bell.
|Rex Bell (3rd from L) with coach Art Tokle and other New York ski jumpers is Kevin’s pick for the 2015-16 Ptarmigan Award.|
A great nomination. And what a handsome photo to boot!