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Club News

A Letter to SSWSC- Building the Airplane While We Fly It

We are so happy our kids are training; they are smiling and exercising and enjoying the outdoors. However, it’s important to note that this season is anything but normal: we are operating with lower numbers, restrictions for travel or sharing indoor spaces, and protected by heavily thought out safety measures and procedures to keep our families safe from COVID-19. The safety and health of our athletes and visitors is essential.

With the cancellation of last weekend’s Jumpin’ & Jammin’ Competition, a small group of 9 Park City athletes were able to visit Steamboat to train on our plastic jumps, with spacing and separate training times from our local athletes to help reduce exposure.

This wonderful letter from Park City parent Bari Nan Rothchild reminds us that we’re all in this together. Thank you to the coaches and Directors like Todd Wilson who are working to enforce the new regulations, to the athletes who have had their sense of normalcy turned over, and especially to the parents, local and visiting, who respectfully see and hear the community’s concern and help us to enforce the COVID procedures that keep all kids safe.

We’re proud to be able to keep training and smiling! Thank you Bari Nan Rothchild!

“We are in Steamboat Springs, this week, so Seth can participate with his friends, in a ski jumping training camp. It’s become a treasured vacation spot for us - we loaf around at the base of the jumps in camp chairs, watching the kids fly.
We visit with friends, read, take in a different kind of mountain town. We will ride our bikes and walk along the Yampa. Usually we wander in and out of stores. Enjoy happy hours and leisurely dinners out. This time- just necessary errands for provisions (and much-needed new running shoes from a great little running shop); takeout dinners (we had one dinner out, alfresco, on a roof deck with very safely-spaced tables. It was textbook fine, but this morning we all agreed we don’t need the added anxiety—the additional risk, whatever it is, feels too much for us. Takeout will do just fine.)

Today, the Steamboat program director held a briefing/orientation with the athletes (9 PC athletes in total) and families. He explained sanitizing procedures, 10’ distancing, masks-on rules, limits on how many athletes may be indoors at once, etc. Where we should park and where the athletes can change into their gear and warm up. They were different processes than what occurred in the past, but every single aspect was thought through, and planned for us. He was as clear and kind and smart as his counterparts in Park City, and likely everywhere else.

And while I was impressed with his thorough explanations, I almost cried when he said, “I hope you feel welcome. I hope you understand that we are doing all this because we LOVE hosting you and we want you to come back. Also, we want to come train in Park City, soon. And the only way to keep us all active in the sport, is to make sure we all stay safe and healthy.” When he got to the part about keeping safe distances from the Steamboat kids, it was almost painful - the essence of this sport (and of youth activities in general) is the friendships and friendly rivalries built around a shared love of an activity. We are given a block of training time when we have the facility for our exclusive use, so there’s as little chance as can be for accidental community spread.

It’s hard to pinpoint one reason why this moment felt poignant. It’s not just because we will have such limited contact with the Steamboat athletes and their families. Or that the multi-club camp and celebration week, culminating in a July 4th comp (for which the whole town shows up) - a long-standing tradition our family got to enjoy for the first time, last year - is of course, called off.

Like our own team leaders, his love for the sport, for every athlete who trains here, under his watch, whether for a few days or weeks a year, or for years of days that blend together to form successful young adults. His desire to make the experience safe, meaningful and as good as possible under new rules; the reality that the hold we have on any of this is so tenuous; the gratitude we get to be here, at all. We’ve been fortunate enough to stay healthy, and the vigilant attention to safety measures has everything to do with it.

There is more at stake than sports. More than arts. More than hot yoga or cool drinks in a bar. More than classrooms and more than worship services. More than small businesses and more than hospital beds. All of these things are meaningful and also meaningful indicators of how we have built our lives in a world that no longer reflects the circumstances under which we built them.

For months, as we have bumped into challenges we didn’t understand, I have said the same phrase: “We are building the airplane while we fly it.” That is what it feels like to rearrange the pieces of the life we know into an entirely different order. Maybe that’s why so many of us have turned to puzzles, and Scrabble games. We need to see what all these randomized pieces can become.

I was on a little high yesterday, so happy to be in a place we all enjoy, together, euphoric from having changed our scenery. The prospect of getting all the endorphins that come with being in a different place. (I don’t think we’ve spent 105 consecutive days at home, ever. Family visits, debate tournaments, business trips and vacations, keep us moving.)

As we walked around town, everywhere I looked, I saw compliance with masks and distancing- but my mind has the capacity to edit out the pieces of the picture I don’t want to see. And today I saw a slightly more realistic picture. Not perfect, but still better than where we were in PC, a few days ago, as our county’s new mask rule went into effect. If you haven’t figured it out, I support the health order that mandates mask-wearing in all publicly-accessed indoor spaces; in all gatherings whether indoors or out, when distance cannot be maintained.

Coming here has given me some hope we can and will get better, as a community, at keeping each other safer. We can figure out how these newer pieces of life make parts of our routines possible. How we can do more with “less.” Even as we live lives of abundance (and find new ways to define that). Even as we help our neighbors who are struggling. Even as we decide some days, it’s okay not to be okay, and then rely on each other for support.

I’ll say it again: our grasp on maintaining our health (personally, communally) is tenuous. It takes all of us. The airplane does not build itself. And we do all this so we can keep doing it. The plane—it’ll be different from anything anyone has ever seen. The hardest part is, we still don’t know what it will look like.

For those of you who think this plane won’t fly, that it’s too hard to make it work under the conditions we are asked to do so, you’ll only be right if we get this wrong. If we don’t, EACH OF US, do our part to do hard things. We have to do it together. Be smart, be safe, be strong. Ask for help when you need help.”

-Bari Nan Rothchild


Photo by Bari Nan Rothchild