Wow. That's all I have to say after watching some of the preliminary rounds at the first stop of the Winter Dew Tour for the Nike 6.0 Open at Breckenridge Ski Resort. There's well over 300 athletes entered, representing more countries than I have fingers - and I used up almost all of my toes too.
I've been to the Dew Tour for a couple of years at Breckenridge, but this was the first time I went early in the morning to watch practices. I've been around a variety of elite winter sports athletes over the years, but what really struck me was the camaraderie and support that these athletes have for each other and their abilities. The temperature may have been -5 or -10, but the halfpipe felt absolutely warm from all the positive energy.
It made me think about all these athletes, champions in their own right, and what makes a champion, really? Is it being the best at a particular moment, a particular sport or at a particular event? Probably any of these can and do define a champion, but I think what defines a champion is more than that. Enter Holly Crawford, from Australia.
I met the Australian Snowboard team last season, and was immediately struck by how down to earth, friendly, and accommodating they all are. And add to that focused
and dedicated. Their athletes are in the gym training just as hard off the mountain as they do on the mountain. Most afternoons you can find them at the Breckenridge Recreation Center after they get off the snow.
Holly is a double Olympian, having competed at both the Turin Olympics in 2006 (after almost breaking her pelvis shortly before hand) and in Vancouver for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. You can't compete at an Olympic Games after a substantial injury without having substantial determination. So, it's no surprise that Holly finished 8th out of 30 in Vancouver, ahead of many other well known names. Last weekend Holly finished 5th at the Copper Grand Prix Halfpipe. Earlier this week she won the Open Qualifier for the Dew Tour and this morning she was solid in practice. She took time to smile and say "Hi" and chat between her practice runs. Unfortunately, her performance in the prelims today was not her best and you won't get to see her in the finals.
But I'm not worried, because I know Holly is a champion. I asked her earlier this week what advice she might have for teenagers wanting to get into the sport and Holly told me "don't be afraid to make mistakes and fall down". I've seen her dedication, drive and focus and know that Holly is a champion. Tomorrow is another day and next week is another week, and Holly will be at the next event, putting her best out there. That's a champion.
I skied some of the bowls at Breckenridge today and when the terrain got a little challenging and I started to hesitate, I thought of Holly and her smile this morning. And I smiled too.
- jenise jensen
Click here to view a slideshow of the Dew Tour