Monday, February 4, 2013

ISMF World Championships

With mixed emotions, I will be boarding a flight to Turino, Italy this coming Wednesday.  From there, I will join the other members of the US Ski Mountaineering Team to compete at the ISMF World Championships in Pelvoux, France.

This is an opportunity I worked for throughout the fall and winter but had narrowly missed during the three qualifying races in early January.  After all the dust had settled, I was the alternate for the 8 man team that consisted of John Gaston, Tom Goth, Marshall Thompson, Jason Dorais, Max Taam, Luke Nelson, Greg Ruckman, and Scott Simmons (Brian Wickenhauser had qualified but yielded his spot to Simmons).  All the tickets were purchased and travel plans made.  I was staying home.

Then, my brother's wife got sick.  She's been sick and has been bravely battling a wretched case of cancer since being diagnosed last summer.  All types of cancer are life altering and terrible but hers is advanced and quite serious.  So far, she has risen to the occasion through surgery, chemo, and radiation, remaining charming and smiling through it all (more on her story here).  She is a beautiful example of everything good in this world.

Jason has also been unshakable through this entire experience.  In the last 45 days, he and Amanda have gotten married, moved, and been to the hospital uncountable times.  He's wrecked two cars, trained, raced, made the US team, worked the exhausting hours of a medical resident, and remained faithfully by his wife's side as she has experienced what I'm sure are some of the deepest lows of her young life.

He's made it look easy.

He's teaching us all lessons in grace and love and life and in maintaining one's priorities.  I've always joked that I've raised him since we enjoy the same sports, are embarking on the same career path, and in general have the same interest, but now, he's providing a great example not only to me and the rest of our family but to all who know him.

Taken from the Deseret News Article
So getting back to ski racing (seems trivial now eh?)...

He called me last week and asked if I wanted to go to France.  I knew what that meant.  As the alternate, I was the next up but I didn't want to go at his expense and I definitely didn't want to go if it meant that Amanda was getting sicker.  I told him to wait and think about it; see if she got better.  

A day or two later, an email from Jason to the entire national team popped up in my inbox that read:

...She was doing pretty well and I had justified going (even got a ticket) but over the past week the chemo kind of destroyed her.  We've been in and out of the hospital a few times and leaving to go screw around in Europe doesn't seem right.  I apologize that you'll now have to deal with my dumb ass brother but if he acts up just remind him he was 10th on the points list! 

He made the choice for me and with his blessing, I'll join the other guys in a few days.  I'll be wide eyed and jittery just to be in the high Alps with a chance to race the best in the world.  I'm certainly not the fastest guy in the world (or Salt Lake or my own family for that matter) but you can be sure that I'm going to suffer like I never have before to honor my brother who couldn't make the trip and for Amanda, who less than a year ago ran a marathon with my wife but is now taking on a much bigger challenge than some puny race.  

Also, thank you to my coworkers for picking up the slack while I'm gone.  Thank you to Scarpa, Trab, and OR for the ongoing support.  And mostly, thank you Jessie, my dear wife,  for the years of patience and support to chase petty athletic goals.    

Assuming internet access, I'll update the site over the next couple weeks with race results, impressions, photos, etc as the drama of hundreds of skinny spandex clad Europeans chase each other through the Alps.  It should be a grand time!



  1. Hey Andy, I always enjoy lurking on your site, good info and you and your brother are inspiring. Sorry to hear the circumstances that propelled you to Europe, but, good luck. Just thought you'd be interested to see that you guys have inspired a race series in the PNW, hasn't taken off like your series, but it's a start! Here is the blog:snoqualmiepassskimodotblogspotdotcom

  2. Honor, above all else.

  3. So sorry to hear about the circumstances of your trip but we will all be cheering for you back here in SLC.

  4. I sure wasn’t expecting that ... I recall the litany of everything that Jason had going on while still amazingly enough racing so strong, but this just puts everything into perspective.
    My mother is a colorectal cancer survivor (and cancer-free now over a decade after her operation and chemo). The positive outlook and unlimited energy that come across in Jason's blog (and Andy's blog here of course also) about your guys' challenging ski exploits have always inspired and encouraged me, and I trust that they will inspire and encourage Amanda in this far more important challenge. (Also, if you click through to that newspaper article, you’ll find a link to donate toward medical expenses.)

  5. Best of luck to you, Andy. I'm so sorry to hear your reasons for going to France, but I'm sure it will give you some incentive to kick a**. All of us in SLC who have a clue about SkiMo know what a big deal this is. Will be thinking of you...

  6. Very inspriring, on your entire family's behalf. best of luck in France.

  7. I'm so very impressed by both the Dorais boys and proud to be the father-in-law of one of them. "Bonne chance," Andy, and "buona fortuna" (since you'll be landing in Turin...or Torino, as it's spelled in Italian.