It started out like any other trip except we were meeting at the airport to board a plane instead of getting on a bus. I remember waiting at the gate and meeting many new people who were also meeting new people. One central figure was the fulcrum to the whole event bringing balance to what lied ahead. Gene “The Legend” Elsberry was in charge in a way only Gene could be. I miss him so much. Everything was kind of a blur because of the early departure, and I don’t remember much about the flight but once we reached Reno things came back into focus.
Once everyone got their luggage, we all boarded a bus for Heavenly when a new charismatic figure came to life. Who was this bald man who talked as if he had been in the Navy (you know, his language was colorful)? We would learn this was a new legend in training. We would call him Evan.
I remember the bus driver calling out things during the very pretty drive. We passed something called the Bunny Ranch. We drove through Carson City which is the only state capital in the continental US to not be on an interstate highway. We came over a pass and got our first view of Lake Tahoe. It was better than expected but I would learn later the view was better from the mountain.
Later that night after meeting our roommates, the Martins, we sat by the fire in the Heavenly Square and met Matt Moss and Linda Stubbs. We thought the Flatlands trip had some friendly people. At this point we did not know what this Flatlands thing was about, but we would soon find out. We skied the next day with the Martins until Shawn Martin (Race Coordinator) said it was time to go to the Cross-Country race. What was the Cross-Country race? We made our way to the race area which was equipped with bleachers and a lot of people watching a few people trying on these skinny skis. I somehow was volunteered to be a fourth on one of our teams and got a crash course on running in these skinny skis. I don’t remember how we finished but I do remember cow bells and one of my new favorite people named Kelley Phillips.
Kelley was what the greatest ambassador for skiing, the Tulsa Ski Club, and the Flatlands Ski Association. She wanted Tulsa to win but that did not keep her from cheering for every single person down the racecourse and ringing that bell. I know I speak for everyone who ever met you when I say we miss you, Kelley.
The next few days we skied until the challenge races. The thing I most remember about the challenge races was it was a steep hill, I didn’t know what I was doing, but my wife Piper won a silver medal in her race. I was jealous.
That night we went to something called the awards banquet. We ate, Piper received her Silver Medal, and then it happened. Tulsa won Flatlands for the first time in long, long time. You talk about a bunch of grown people acting like they just won the Superbowl. It was a big deal to finally beat Kansas City. I had not been a part of this, so I didn’t fully appreciate the rivalry until we won several more over the next few years prompting KC to attempt rule changes and turn things back in their favor. I understand it now after 13 years.
Every year I say this is going to be different. I’m going to go have fun and not be so competitive.
I have done a better job at having fun, but it does not make the wanting to win go away.
I want Tulsa to win every race. I want medals around every Tulsa racer’s neck.
I want Dick Watts hoisting that FSA trophy again.
I want Howdy Howdy Lets Get Rowdy ringing in the ears of Kansas City.
In a few months we go to Telluride where we won in 2016.
Signups for 2022 are strong and early.
Things are looking very good for 2022.
I hope you are there.