Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Racing to somewhere

Tahoe powder? Financial ruin? Some of both?

Last weekend we headed to the mountains (again) for Sophie's first race as part of our favorite ski resort's developmental race team.


Leaving Friday morning (at a reasonable hour for once) to get her there for the pre-race afternoon practice gave a leisurely drive where I could marvel at all the new snow instead of trying to catch a few winks. Up on the mountain many of the trees were bare because the snow had come with high winds. But heading up the pass, everything had a thick frozen coat. I love the exposed granite of the Sierras, but nothing beats this. Well, maybe removing all the SUVs in front of us . . .

And sadly, this was the last picture we took over the weekend where you could see anything. The race was in snowy conditions with flat light, making outside shots indeciperable. The lodge chaos with hundreds of race-suit clad kids swarming to register and find coaches would have been a good subject, but we were busy swarming to register and find coaches. It's all new, confusing, and exciting to us. Next time—promise.

We grabbed some race skis (season rentals, thank goodness) on the way up and a new race suit (on sale, thank goodness) on the way down. Remember when the main character from Tom Wolf's laments he is hemorrhaging cash? That feeling. Are we living in our van and shooting squirrels? Not yet, but the possibility is certainly in our minds.

And so too is the quesiness about the competitive aspect of this all. Aside from the face that children's competitive sports deprive many families of ever eating dinner together, I am uneasy with the winner/loser distinction. I know good teams work to emphasize being both a good winner and a good loser, but let's face it: The winners and the losers are each often the same people. For example, throughout my entire elementary, middle school, and high school career, Marcie Wurts was a winner. With obvious talent and hard work, she excelled at nearly every sport offered. She got lots of practice at winning and I'm sure became a gracious and good winner. I, in stark contrast, was a vastly experienced loser. Did being a loser time and again make me a better loser? No—it merely deepened the humiliation and hammered into me my loser status. I overcame it, but it took years. It seems to me the character building of competition vastly favors the winners. I know so much of the world outside of sports is about competition, winning, and losing, but whereas it may be the reality, I think it may also be the problem in many instances.

Sophie finished both of her runs with respectable times. She was far from the top and not too close to the bottom, which I think is great, especially considering she joined the race team late and this was her first race. She was pleased with her times posted on the board (she improved in her second race), and I haven't shown her the website where they rank all the kids in each division. She was nervous to start, relieved to finish, happy with her new group of friends, finding her feet in the new skis, and looking forward to the next race. She was a little concerned that she was one of the only kids without a race suit and said she would really like to have one if that were possible. Done. I told her jokingly that I do not want to see any more wide gate roundings; she has the padding, and I expect her to be smacking those gates.

Maybe some day she'll be on a podium doing this. (She pointed out "You've got to show the audience what kind of skis you have!") But for right now, she's plenty happy where she is. And I'm happy too, although while I was freezing my butt off watching races, I was sort of wondering if those soccer moms and their folding chairs and sunshine weren't on to something. Nah.

7 comments:

Purple Flowers said...

Yooray for Sophie!! I know you and husband are very proud of her, and I'm sure she is very grateful for all you are sacrificing. Great parents!!!

winterflamingo said...

That's one cool racing suit! As someone who has played competitive sports since the age of 6, I'd like to put in a good word for them. I played soccer for 12 years (and ran xcountry and track, so I know what more individual sports are like, and ride horses competitively so I know what subjectively judged sports are like). I've been on championship winning teams, average teams, and plain bad teams. It's all been great. Why? Because I've had fun and I loved my team for being a team. Even in running (when I was sloooow) I focused on my personal improvements. And if you're on a team, it's bonding to just lose together and that one win feels like the most amazing thing in the world. There are always positive elements to focus on and I think you're doing a great job of that. It's especially easier with sports that are timed, because you can see that maybe you aren't the best, but you did well for yourself. So good job and keep having fun!

順利 said...

人類最大的悲劇不是死亡,而是沒有掌握有意義的人生..................................................

Cindy said...

Does anyone read Chinese characters? I'm worried someone is telling me I'm a loser.

Kate said...

Go, Sophie! I LOVE the pink flames and pink toenail polish.

k e r r y said...

I thought of Sophie this weekend as we watched the X Games!

Kate said...

The link in the comments is probably to porn - got one of those the other day. She looks so cool and so excited! Sounds like you need a new t-shirt : "Will Work for Ski Racing Gear!"