"RonaSeason", a BC Ski Team update from coach Morgan Pridy
Alpine is a four-season sport. Each having it’s own individual place in a years plans. At times the seasons blend into each other, but the overlap is usually short lived. Our need to adapt often comes out of weather-based necessity. Summer: we turn sweat into strength. Fall: Hit the slopes and start our on-hill build. Winter: Race baby! Spring: Consolidate, decompress, and adjust. It’s cyclical, it’s habit, and it’s all part of a reassuring routine. You are never so far from the next thing where you start to breakdown. As the weight of the summer grind begins to squish your soul we book tickets to more snowy pastures and remember why we work so hard. Training, training and more training, damn dude, let the dogs bark already! Then there it is, race season. Battle your face off competing until you’re running on nothing but fumes and passion all the way to spring. Rinse and repeat, right? RIGHT?!
Nope. Super wrong. Welcome to the fifth season …(ominous pause)… RonaSeason! Covid Confinement. The Corona Crapshoot. The SARS-CoV Slap in the face. The whatever other clever (or not clever) alliteration you can think of. Be it bats, birds, mad cows, or the democrats (kidding!) that brought this down upon us, it doesn’t matter. The fact remains, skiing just got John Wilkes Boothed. Hard.
Now you may be thinking, “skiing? Jesus man, the world is in crisis” and you’d be right, but this isn’t a world issues update now is it? That’s what apple news is for…
Let’s take a small trip together back in time shall we? In my isolation I have been counting the days by greeting each morning with the phrase “D-day plus”. This morning was D-day plus 5. 5 days since Whistler Mountain pulled the plug on operations and the final nail went into the year’s coffin. I’m sure each of you has your own specific D-day during these wild times. So we hop in the time machine for the first of two stop and spin the knob to around D-day minus 40.
We are neck deep in Quebec and have just finished racing on ice so icy that it has literally been ripping the bases off the crew’s skis. Mount Eddy had just become the undisputed champ when it comes to hard snow. Whenever it seems slick from now on, someone is going to say “Yo! Remember Mont Eduard though?!” and everyone will shudder a little. In all seriousness, yes it was a challenge but the team stepped up and after a day of pizza they went to French fries real quick and put together some of the soundest skiing I have seen all season. Following Eddy we drove a ten-hour, four-hour drive in what amounted to cataracts level blizzard. Our destination was an 80-year-old farmhouse directly out of a Stephen King novel, situated on the outskirts of Bromont. Heated by a wood furnace in the dirt basement and furnished with paintings who’s eyes follow you down the hall. It seemed like a pretty wholesome place for the team. Now I tell you what, on that sprint of a GS the team came to play. I’d say two factors played huge into it: Fear and hot sauce, plain and simple.
First night we have a team dinner, a random selection of the closest restaurant. Quebec Tex Mex… Now what’s the logical thing to do when you are waiting for your food? Apparently it is to have an unprovoked hot sauce tasting session, and by session I of course mean competition… unbeknownst to me, spice is measured in Scoville heat units. The SHU of Tabasco is 700. Now in a weird way, I’m proud that they all wanted to push the limits. After a series of sauces they finally landed on Vicious Viper or some obnoxiously named red goo with a SHU of 250,000… Brave or stupid, they all cheered tortilla chips and down the hatch. Red faces, hiccups, shaking, fetal position, and uncontrollable sweating ensued. The teams house only had one bathroom…
Part two of this apparent cocktail for success was fear. Not ski related fear, not at all but more traditional fear. It started with a little unease stemming from the dilapidated barn attached to the house. A structure with rusted scythes and a dusty collection of hillbilly knickknacks that could only belong to some sort of psycho killer. The unease grew as the nights fell, the temperature plummets and the house produced sounds that were hard to explain. Of course this is only the mind playing tricks, but being in the middle of nowhere seemed to amplify everything a little. Now picture that you are me and you’ve been joking with the team about that they are being ninnies, and making sure to tell them “hey, make sure you guys don’t get serial murdered because that would be a real pain in the ass”. Then one day you’re out driving and you get a phone call “dude, there are people in the basement”. Uhm, wut?? So unease has most likely turned to fear for the crew, maybe not rational fear but fear nonetheless. I bust a bitch and head to the house to see what it’s all about. Of course my inner dad comes out first, no, not the inner dad where you are going to protect your kiddos but the inner dad where you sigh and take the opportunity to say “This is why I told you to lock the back door, didn’t I tell you guys to lock the door? I was pretty clear about locking that door, but you never listen and look what happens, now you have strangers in your sketchy dirt floor basement”.
It was only a 10 minute drive to get back and when I arrive all the doors are locked …of course they are locked now, after the fact. So we get to talking and establish that whomever was in the basement actually did know the owner of the house and acted as a care taker. They were cold from sledding through the fields of rural Quebec and he had wanted to warm up his hands on the furnace downstairs. At this time the whole story starts to take shape.
Okay, we were upstairs and we hear a bunch of rustling around in the basement, so we assume its GVS trying to scare us and you know we don’t like that basement already. We didn’t want to go down and make him stop because… well because F that, its scary down there.
Uhm alright, what did you do then?
*Sheepish looks* We went to the top of the stairs and started shouting at him that this joke wasn’t cool. So not cool that we were going to beat his ass if he didn’t stop messing around. But then GVS walked out of the other room and asked what we were shouting about.
Right… I understand the sheepish looks now. Thank goodness the guy downstairs wasn’t also named Gerrit. What happened next?
We could still hear someone down there and we had to find out who it was.
It was at this point Nate decided he would put on his cape and save the team. Half way down the stairs was all it took for the cape to come off and he decided this was a job best done not alone.
Marcus and I go down together and we see this guy all hunched over at the furnace and we ask him what he’s doing. He tells us and a few minutes later he gets up and leaves.
Wow, that’s so reasonable, very composed, good work guys, apart from the initial shouting you handled that well.
*Much MUCH more sheepish looks* Well maybe Marcus was holding an ax the whole time.
I literally drag the palm of my hand down my face. In the minutes to follow the complete recap of the afternoons events unfold. Nate takes off his cape, gets a somewhat unwilling Marcus to accompany him to the basement, en route Marcus gets what we are going to label as a self defense/prop ax on the off chance that it’s French Freddy Kruger in the basement. They take the steps very deliberately and round the corner to see this man. Taking a moment here to put yourself in downstairs mans shoes, he hears a serious commotion happening upstairs, shouting in his direction and then two guys appear, both looking a little disheveled, the guy in the back is holding an ax and appears to have a hostage that he is using as a human meat shield… Somehow they have a calm conversation and all is resolved.
Not how you draw it up, but scared kids with 250,000 Scoville units in them race fast. Make sure to put that in the coaches manual.
Jump to D-day minus 20, Life is good, like damn its good. The team is as back together as it has been since December and we are all completely soaked to the bone up on Grouse. We are collectively wetter than the dirty water dogs they serve at the clubhouse. It’s local race series time and the start of our last little prep before the final push of the season. Pano month is in the near future and over the next two weeks the crew will look to get their minds right and remember the feeling of winning, legitimately winning. I say legitimately winning because the season is full of wins. Wins coming in the form of PB’s, habits made, plans executed on. All very important parts of a multi year process (I could beat it to death and say life long process even) but this crew haven’t been sentenced to life with the BCST, so multi year fits. During this years long venture the team aren’t often at races where they are top dog. It would be hard to create resiliency if we flipped the script… But at a few points each year it’s Go-Time at the races where the expectation is to dominate. A whole different kind of pressure, and another important set of skills to acquire. That’s where legitimate, beat every-damn-body wins come in. Thank you Rog for keeping the people up to date with who’s been on the box. It was exciting and motivating to see the guys (gender accurate since Ella was putting it on the line at WJ’s) adapt and excel throughout the series.
Apex was next, a short training block directly in front of Pano Forever. It’s a six hour drive, we departed at 7am from Whistler. By 9am the NHL season was suspended, by 10am Nationals was cancelled taking Nor-am finals with it. By 10:30 spring series was cancelled and the truck had a small rain cloud following it. The interior had an atmosphere of disbelief and hysteria… Just prior to our arrival we were slapped with a non-essential travel ban. I can confirm that it is also a six hour drive back to Whistler.
(Time machine sounds) annnnnd we are back in the present. Put down the pallet of toilet paper and while you are at it, take that shopping cart with the 300 liters of milk back to wherever you got it from, you can’t possibly drink it all before it spoils. Let’s take a collective breath through our facemasks and remember that the world is going to keep on spinning.
Just my thoughts on it, and remember this is coming from a guy who loves social distancing at the best of times. Do some things you enjoy while you have the time. As an athlete isolation can get mighty close to solitary confinement and there is a reason that solitary confinement is used as a punishment in prison, because its worse than normal prison… If they aren’t under lock down, where are the BCST now?
Strava would be your best bet if you are curious about what the team is up to during these strange times. It is refreshing to me to see a glimpse of what the crew is up to when normal life has been cancelled for the time being. It also is a great reminder that the work is never finished for these guys. On days where you have every excuse to be a potato and set a new high water mark on screen time, they are taking the opportunity to get out and enjoy a time of year usually dominated by hotel rooms and the late season grind. In so many words, the BCST is NOT dead in the water. We may be paddling upstream and the current may get stronger in the weeks or months to come but I’ve got faith in the crew to show what they have shown this whole year. Resiliency and a resolve to overcome whatever gets thrown in their way. ~ Morgan Pridy