The CEO of my company flies a lot. Enough that when Delta Airlines did a big to-do as part of their sponsorship of the World Cup Freestyle skiing event at Deer Valley this weekend, he got invited.
Except he couldn’t make it. So he sent my colleague Ed and me instead. Instead of going to work yesterday, Ed and I went skiing at Deer Valley. I know, it was rough.
We arrived at the reception room and noticed a familiar face walk in shortly after. If you followed skiing in the early 90’s, you probably had a crush on her: gold medalist mogul skier Donna Weinbrecht. Apparently they invited more than just Donna, because alpine racers Erik Schlopy and Heidi Voelker, as well as freestyle aerialist Kris “Fuzz” Fedderson—all three-time Olympians—also joined us.
They split us up into groups of four and assigned us each a celebrity “host” to ski with us. We did a couple warmup runs and Donna coached me to get my hands forward and be more aggressive as we ripped the intermediate corduroy slope. I don’t think Donna had yet realized the terrain wasn’t all that demanding for me and I was only casually making turns to avoid getting too far ahead of the two out-of-staters in our group.
After the warmups, we headed over to the Nastar racecourse. I did one race when I was ten and have never run gates since then. I was surprised how fun it was. When I went head-to-head with Erik Schlopy, I knew he would be faster, but I was shocked by just how much faster he was. I later went head-to-head with Heidi, who gave me a head start and then went screaming by. It took me about 19 seconds to do the course, and they were doing it in 15 or 16.
Impressed as I was with their skiing skills, I was more impressed with how personable the pros were. While riding the chairlift with Donna and Heidi, Donna told us about the children’s book she’s writing and illustrating (apparently she’s also an artist), and Heidi told us stories of her days doing coed skiercross with Casey Puckett. At lunch she mentioned that the stories she told didn’t even scratch the surface, and if she had another glass of wine, we’d hear some real dirt.
Here’s a photo of Ed, Donna, and me at the bottom of the racecourse:
Erik, Donna, me, Heidi, Ed, and Fuzz posing at the “medal ceremony” at lunch (they actually kept our times on the racecourse):
Of all the assignments I’ve ever been given at work, this had to be the best.