World Cup runneth over
Red Card Roberts
February 7, 2017
Last weekend there was a lot of loud talk about Americans, the Chinese, Russians, Australians and Canadians. The chatter included a mixture of cheers, tears, thunderous applause, utter despair and even some baffled by what had just happened.
It had nothing to do with the president's approach to immigration, refugees, or trade deals. It also had nothing to do with his alarming calls to foreign leaders, his man crush on Putin, or his now halted travel ban.
Last weekend, athletes from those countries, and many more, competed at the FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup at Deer Valley Resort. An event I look forward to every year. So much so that I have turned down family vacations to Maui because they conflicted with my favorite weekend all year long.
For me, this week is the equivalent of the day after Christmas for a 5-year old: I know it's a long wait for my version of the most wonderful time of year to come around again. There's something really special about walking up the hill under the stars, a cooler of beer strapped to your back, a flask in your pocket, cowbell in hand, to gather with 10,000 cheering fans, all to watch the world's best freestyle skiers compete.
And then something like World Cup weekend comes along and, at least for a brief time, people are united. Last weekend, skiers representing different countries embraced and congratulated each other from varying heights on a podium. Strangers hugged, high-fived and toasted each other over an athlete’s performance.
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Every single year I find myself in complete awe at the talent of the athletes and the party Deer Valley is able to pull off. But this year, if possible, it was slightly even more special. In large part because of what's happening on the world stage.
Right now, there's quite a bit angst over who has the nuclear codes and what he'll do with them. Open hostility toward people who look and speak different than us, or practice a different faith, has become permissible. Tensions and division are so deep; many experts are throwing out terms like "brink of a civil war" on Sunday morning talk shows. There's a palpable fear about what will happen next.
And then something like World Cup weekend comes along and, at least for a brief time, people are united. Last weekend, skiers representing different countries embraced and congratulated each other from varying heights on a podium. Strangers hugged, high-fived and toasted each other over an athlete's performance. I watched as a sea of people made room up front for a woman with small children who couldn't see, gladly giving up their spot to make someone's experience just a tad bit better. Everywhere I looked, people were happy, open, welcoming and striking up new friendships. Nobody asked to first see proof of citizenship or religious affiliation.
There's no way all 10,000 cheering fans voted the same way in November. We were not all from the same country, nor did we all have the same beliefs. But standing on the snow at Deer Valley, that didn't matter. We all found a way to root for the same thing, to cheer for the success of others and celebrate with those around us. There was a genuine air of goodwill and unity.
Nelson Mandela, who perhaps knew better than anyone the cost of a divided nation once said: "Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair."
A sentiment that was on display for all the world to see this past weekend.
If it's true what they say (that sports don't build character, they reveal it), then what I saw this weekend gives me hope. And it makes me want to invite the president and his cabinet out for a ski weekend.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.