Columbia box on my door back in October, becoming part of the #OmniTen crew was kind of a big deal for me! As our January trip date approached another invite went out – to all past and present #OmniTen members – asking everyone to take on the #OmniGames. Columbia kept the details under wraps but we all jumped at the chance to participate in whatever the #OmniGames happened to be.
So, what exactly are the #OmniGames?
Everyone with Columbia was ninja stealthy and no one spilled the beans. Even after we arrived in Park City and harassed Daniel and Tori daily they refused to drop hints – I’m pretty impressed with their determination, we were annoying! On Thursday morning, after the TurboDown reveal, we were all told to dress for a day of snowy frolicking then piled into vans for a short drive to Garff Ranch where we were greeted with snowmobiles and more mystery. Eventually we all settled down and the details started coming out.
In short, we would be broken down into two person teams (one summer + one winter) and presented with 10 challenges. Each challenge would be scored and the top five teams would become the 2014 Summer season of #OmniTen…with a trip to Jordan. Yup, the country Jordan. For a week. But only if your team was good enough to break the top five. No pressure or anything.
As for the challenges? Think summer camp…but take away most of the pre-teen drama then add “I won’t sue you if I die” waivers, snowmobiles and lift tickets! So, really, think summer camp but way cooler! Kids never appreciate the good things in life – like summer camp, naptime and endless energy!
As a winter #OmniTen-er I drew my teammate’s name out of a hat. My slip of paper read @AnneCarneyMedia! I had met Anne less than 12 hours before our pairing but I knew she was a bundle of energy…we totally had this, right?!
We wasted no time and jumped right into the competition…there was a week in a foreign country on the line! And if I have learned anything about Columbia in the past few days it was that they knew how to plan a trip! I wanted in! In the next two days of competing I learned a few more things about Columbia, myself and life…
Lessons Learned During the #OmniGames
It would not be an exaggeration to say everyone had a blast taking on the challenges. We got to try new things, attempt to prove our skills at basic tasks and laugh at embarrassing shortcomings…all while playing in the snow, feeding our faces and hanging out with people we were quickly learning to love! As with everything in life we walked away with egos that had sustained both excessive inflation and brutal bruises. I can’t speak for everyone but I learned a life lesson or two…
Always Say Yes to #TryingStuff
The premise behind Columbia’s motto of #TryingStuff means something different to everyone and this was the premise of the week in Park City – put yourself out there and try! Naturally this motto was an emphasis during the #OmniGames. The challenges covered a wide range of skills so everyone was bound to come across something they have never done before. For me this was dog sledding and snowmobiling! For others it was the ropes course, archery or avalanche beacons. Everyone jumped at the opportunity to try something new.
Riding through a whiteout snowstorm with an Iditarod sled team was phenomenal and belongs on a bucket list! When will I ever have the chance to do that again? Watching the mushers interact with their dogs and talk about their true passion on such a candid level was more than just a challenge to complete, it was an incredible experience. As for snowmobiling? Well, I do prefer an ATV but I’m glad I had a lot of fun driving around in the snow!
Trust Your Instincts
I tend to be pretty proud of my farm girl status…or at least farm girl history as I have apparently lost all of my country kid skills. As soon as archery was mentioned I got nervous. I grew up with using guns and bows/arrows so I knew what to do – we even had a week of archery in my high school PE class. However, back then my aim was a disaster and last week I proved that aim is not something that improves over time when you never practice! Anne and I were the first of our mini group to take on the target challenge and I was giddy nervous. I should have followed my instincts, walked away for a second and calmed down. Instead I wanted to get it over with…and only hit the silly target once!
For the record…Michelle hit the target each time, with one bullseye. She would have beat us all if she was legit competing!
Luckily I kept my cool during the Needle in an Avalanche challenge – no one would ever head into the backcountry with me again if I wasn’t successful at finding a beacon in an open field! Only took us 40-some seconds! If felt good to know I had a chance of saving a friend, even with an unfamiliar beacon!
Listen to Your Survivalist Friends
I am pretty confident in my ability to survive in the wilderness, at least overnight. The #OmniGames made it painfully obvious that I should probably put a little more effort into actually practicing the survival basics! We were the last team to take on the Hot Chocolate challenge and it was literally pouring snow.
Yea, yea, excuses, I know! But these are legit excuses, especially when combined with our non-existent experience using flint/magnesium – our gloves were buried under nearly an inch of snow after 20 minutes of making sparks but not starting anything on fire. It was really discouraging and I spent the entire time wishing Lynne was there to show me the ropes!
Luckily we knew a thing or two about building a shelter and would have survived a very windy night without hypothermia. Which is encouraging since we would not be getting any warmth from our non-existent fire!
Channel Your Inner Child
The #OmniGames did have a lot on the line so there was some pressure to perform but that did not take away from the fun. How often do you get to roll around in the snow with an overly excited husky that has run the entire Iditarod trail? Or build a fort using just a tarp in a snowstorm? When is the last time you strapped on a harness to navigate a ropes course for the entertainment of others, many with cameras? As an adult? Not very often!
And as an adult planning out stuff like that seems childish, almost silly. Let me tell you…I will happily be labeled as a child if that means I get to have the kind of fun I did during the #OmniGames. Being able to just let go of everything and play, really play, was amazing. It was freeing and refreshing. And it was this level of irresponsible childlike fun that made leaving so incredibly difficult!
Be the Positive
There was one challenge I was especially excited for – the Downhill Derby. I prefer to spend my time playing around on tree runs but I can definitely hold my own on the groomers. I know how to ride and looked forward to our team rocking at life on the slopes…especially since Anne could ski as well! I was excited to get out there and ride laps!
Love these photos – truly shows how amazing everyone was about being positive and #TryingStuff!
Unfortunately Anne got sick during the Lookout Below challenge and was out of competing for the rest of the day. Luckily Daniel and the entire crew of #OmniTen-ers were kind enough to let me adopt Michelle (and her vertical feet) for the final challenge of the day! Even though we were all competing for an incredible prize no one got competitive enough to lose compassion.
By agreeing to let Michelle compete on my team they weren’t just giving me points, they were letting Michelle really be part of the #OmniGames for the first time (since she arrived late thanks to Mother Nature and hateful airports). A huge hug to everyone for putting away their competitive claws long enough to be supportive and understanding!
Slow Down and Enjoy It
The entire week in Park City was go, go, go. Columbia had things planned for us, we were all busy getting to know each other and no one wanted to turn down an opportunity to hang out, chat or reveal their true colors in a game of Cards Against Humanity. Then the competition started and it was all about being the best you could possibly be, all the time. Friday, during the Downhill Derby, was Michelle’s one and only day on the slopes . We spent 90 minutes lapping the same lift/run and she never uttered a complaint! I’m am sincerely impressed with her willingness to do this for me when there was an entire mountain to explore.
At the end of the day I did my best to make it up to her! We did a little exploring on our last run and took a detour that dropped us into a closed run, which then led to a lot of trekking, tumbling and tripping. We had to do some exploratory hiking in shin to waist deep powder just to get back to the correct base.
This was all purely accidental…and by far my favorite run of the week. The competition was over, we were out there having fun, rolling in the snow and running into rocks. We stopped to take pictures, got snow down our pants and tromped into the hotel out of breath. It was worth it, a million times over!
At the end of the day the #OmniGames are so much more than just a competition that will get the winners a trip of a lifetime. Sure, that is a huge motivator and an incredible prize to chase after but it is not the only thing up for grabs here! We have been given the opportunity to meet remarkable people, make live long friends and get hands on reminders about the important things in life!
The Jackets of Columbia :: the story of my first Columbia jacket and a look at the evolution of style and technology in the Columbia jackets via my gear closet.
The Greatness of #OmniTen S4 :: a few fun facts I will never forget about the interesting, loveable #OmniTen crew that I happily claim as “mine”!
Pure Genius :: the story behind the creation of the many details added to the Columbia gear, especially the Olympic uniforms and the reverse snow skirt, a feature I am crazy excited about.