#RoadtoJordan – A friendship born

I’d like to say that it was silently snowing outside that morning, like it had been the previous day. But the truth was, the wind was violent. So violent, that we thought the whole might be canceled and the resort would be closed. As Daniel and Tori worked vigorously to figure out what challenges we could still do, we all waited impatiently in anticipation on how the rope course would be, if we got to do it at all. I for one was really excited. It was my time to shine. This was the closest thing to rock climbing, and I wanted to show off my mad skillz. My teammate on the other hand was kind of dreading the whole thing. Katie has a deathly crazy fear of heights. And she was terrified that she was going to have to do the 60′ jump.

Making my way across the high wires Photo by Katie Levy

Making my way across the high wires
Photo by Katie Levy

Secretly, little Katie Boue and I had been trying to feed Daniel and Tori with the idea that there was an indoor rock climbing gym near by. We could all go there, they don’t close do to weather. But it was all for not. Daniel got our attention and explained to us that the jump was off. It was too windy to make the jump, the Leap of Faith challenge had been canceled and we would finish out the #Omnigames with the remaining events. I turned to Katie and saw the awesome glow in her eyes that her worst fear was gone. And almost immediately she started to focus on the 50′ ropes course.

Photo cred the Omnipotent David Creech

Photo cred the Omnipotent David Creech

We road in the shuttle bus side by side as teammates do, and she told me that she was now really nervous for the ropes courses. As I tried to convince her that she would be ok, I realized I needed to put my own selfish reasons for wanting her to do it aside. She was truly scared. So I looked at her and told her, you don’t have to do anything you’re not comfortable with. If your scared, just stay on the ground and we will see what happens. As much as I wanted to get our best chance to go to Jordan, I absolutely didn’t want to see her terrified up there, or freeze up, or cry. And I could tell, she didn’t want to let me down. Although, I don’t think she knew it wouldn’t be letting me down, I understand the fear of heights more than most. Just because I climb, I had a deathly fear of heights growing up, and it still lingers. In high school I froze on a climbing route and took a 20′ fall landing my side on a huge boulder. I still have a scar. But I also know there is only one way to face those fears.

That's me taking center stage on the high wires.  Photo from Ed Zebrowski

That’s me taking center stage on the high wires.
Photo from Ed Zebrowski

Now Katie is one tough girl, she’s a cross-fit champion, super muscular, strong and athletic. But underneath that physique, I can tell she is all lady. She has no problem telling you when she feels uncomfortable. Not like us guys, how if we are scared or nervous we try to act cool. Play it off with jokes and such. She’s honest with her feelings. It was inside that one task in particular, I felt like I was absolutely needed. As we approached the high ropes, I agreed to stay behind her and go last so I could help talk her through it. Each obstacle (there were like 25) I did my best to calm her down, tell her to focus on her foot work, keep the weight on her feet and breath… Most importantly, breath. And her very dear friend Heather stayed just in front of hr and talked her through it as well. One fall, and the team was out 100 points, so this was a huge event for us.

Nothing like a little liquid courage on the mountain top

Nothing like a little liquid courage on the mountain top

When she finally made it across the last obstacle, she hugged the final log post with a death grip. So happy that she had made it alive, and more happy that she did it without even a flinch of a fall. She ABSOLUTELY crushed that course. Childs play! I felt proud of our team effort in making it across the high ropes course. I knew this girl totally had the strength and ability to do the course, she just needed a little guidance to feel the flow. Sometimes it helps to have someone else show belief in you. It becomes all you need to achieve. And as proud as I was of myself, I felt more pride in how she faced her fears and absolutely destroyed them. Crushing both the high and the low courses with ease. Giving our team some much-needed points to stay in the hunt. The Lookout Below event of the ropes course was really hard, less than half the people who got on the ropes made it through without falling. It played as a key challenge to help many team close the gap. I believe most everybody made it through the Bridge the Gap course.

Katie's Game Face Photo cred David Creech

Katie’s Game Face
Photo cred David Creech

Katie didn’t know this, but the entire time she maneuvered the course, Scott Trepanier was behind me, he wanted to give the course his best go as well. He kept telling me how strong she was, how she could easily crush this thing over all the guys in the group, if she just got out of her head and trusted it. It was in those moments, that I saw what a truly great and family oriented company Columbia was. His encouragement, his motivation, I’ll never forget the way he wanted to see her succeed. Not only was he the man who helped put this entire #Omniten program together, but he is actually a friend to everyone involved.

The new USA Bobsled team

The new USA Bobsled team

After lunch, the entire group bound up for the final event. I knew we were still not sitting in one of the top 5 spots, and we needed another epic performance by both of us on the Downhill Derby. We were in a race to gain the most vertical elevation in an hour and a half. Basically find a line and a lift that will get you up the mountain and down quickly to burn another run. I felt we had a good chance at gaining more ground. As most the experienced skiers/boarders had beginner partners, Katie and I were both at the intermediate level. And I figured we could both stay within 1-2 runs of most the fastest powder hounds. This is my kind of boarding. I like to get on the toe edge, and ride it to the bottom. I love speed. What I don’t love, is catching the toe edge while flying 40-50mph downhill. Which I actually did. About 200 yards from the lift on my 4th run, I caught the toe edge and went face down. Had my own theme music going and everything. I took a split second to make sure nothing was broken, jumped back up and continued to the lift. It wasn’t until I climbed onto the lift that I realized my snow pants were at my knees. I had completely BLEW UP the snap and the zipper came down. I felt like such a clown.

Jon Bausman & I on the ski lift Photo cred David Creech

Jon Bausman & I on the ski lift
Photo cred David Creech

We finished the downhill with somewhere between 8-9 runs each. On my last run, I decided to take it easy and carve a bit. No hurry now, the lifts were closed, the elevation was tracked, all we had to do was wait for the scores to be tallied. We grew as a team in just 2 days, we became closer friends, and I had an enormous amount of respect for all my competitors. We left the winter on the ground that day. No matter what the results, we were part of the inaugural #Omnigames.
Photo cred Heidi Henry

Photo cred Heidi Henry

And though when all is said and done, Katie and I might still be on the outside looking in. We might be sitting at #8 like we were before the Charles Dickens event started. But that would be ok. Don’t get me wrong, I want to go to Jordan extremely bad. But I can say this, we gave it our best shot, we left everything out on those courses and we gained a friend for life. I am so proud I was able to compete alongside such an awesome competitor. I really couldn’t have asked for a better teammate, and the truth is, without her we wouldn’t even had been in contention… Thank you Katie for being such an awesome teammate and friend. And thank you Jon and Heather for helping talk Katie through the ropes. You guys are the truth of what friendship is.

At the fashion show Photo by Heidi Henry

At the fashion show
Photo by Heidi Henry

I didn’t take a lot of photos, and I somewhat regret that now. I tried to live in the moment, and now I live with nothing but the memories. Memories of people I just met, people who have left a thumbprint on my heart, people I’ll never forget. It’s amazing how Columbia Sportswear can bring together 10 strangers, or 30 strangers for that matter, and we make lifelong bonds. This week was truly epic, a time that will live in my mind as one of the best weeks of my life. I feel truly blessed to be a part of it, and to have met so many wonderful faces.

Closing Ceremonies Tequila Shotski

Closing Ceremonies Tequila Shotski

4 comments on “#RoadtoJordan – A friendship born

  1. Josh,

    I believe there is *nothing* wrong with living in the moment. I take photos but there are never enough yet I also sort of regret the time I spend taking them. Social media life makes it an odd balance all around. (Fortunately, I don’t think anyone minds the photo sharing that’s been happening so I’m trying to to feel too guilty about it.)

    I’m so glad to have gotten to compete alongside you. Your intensity was definitely inspirational–as was Katie conquering her fear of heights (or at least setting it aside).

    Cannot wait to adventure with you again soon!

    • Heidi, thanks for your kind words. I cannot get upset about someone’s fears. Especially one that hits so close to home, not many people know this, but I grew up with a terrible fear of heights. I knew she could do it, I just don’t find good results with forcing someone to, or getting mad at them. If she would’ve bowed out because of her fear, I wouldn’t have thought any less of her. She was an awesome teammate, and a great competitor, and I meant every compliment I said about her in the write up. Couldn’t have asked for a better partner.

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