I am the kind of person who writes up packing lists like my life depends upon it. I may end up rewriting the list about eight times because I tend to “misplace” things but there is always a list. And it is usually color coordinated by day and activity. I’m weird like that.
This explains why last Sunday night was pure chaos in my apartment! I was packing for a trip I knew nothing about. Well, I knew there would be snow to play in…but that was all. How do you pack for that? You count out clean socks, convince yourself Columbia baselayers count as pants and throw together one outfit that might qualify as “mountain town cute” then hope for the best. That is precisely how I packed for the #OmniTen trip to Park City…and somehow I survived the full week without running out of clothes to wear! Although that may have had more to do with the amazing Columbia swag bag than my ability to plan for the unknown!
Compared to others (ahem, Michelle and Wendy!) my flight was boring so I’ll skip right to the good stuff…arriving at the Hyatt Escala and being greeted by the smiling faces behind all the elusive Columbia emails! I saw Tori first, waiting for our shuttle at the curb and doling out free hugs. Boom. Instant friends. Daniel was up in the #OmniTen hub ready to greet us with lunch and a pile of waivers promising a fantastic week! I was excited. Bouncing, giddy, squeaky voiced excited! What can I say – hugs and food makes me happy!
Within an hour we had signed away our lives, claimed the “good room” in our hotel rooms apartments and dug through our Columbia duffle bags chuck full of awesome gear. I had no idea what to expect going into this trip. I mean, I had done my fair share of Google-ing and blog reading but nothing would have prepared me for the dedication, thought and love Columbia put into this event! And I’m not just talking about the unlimited supply of food, drinks and smiles. I’m talking about the effort they put into choosing a great group of people for each #OmniTen season…especially Season 4. The Season 4 crew turned out to be exceptionally fantastic.
Oh, the people…let’s take a quick second to talk about the people I spent my week with. My #OmniTen crew!
Michelle First, there is Michelle. Why first? Because this poor girl fought through everything Mother Nature and airlines could throw at her for what turned out to be a 2 day trip! Thanks to Twitter I knew we were both hanging out in airports at roughly the same time…but as I was boarding my flight her was getting canceled. For two days. In the end it took her 4.5 DAYS just to fly from Eastern Canada to Utah. I cannot imagine dealing with all of this and still arriving with a smile! Somehow she did just that. She was the strangely familiar face bouncing my way just moments after my team failed miserably at starting a fire in a whiteout snowstorm. Michelle was a freaking beam of positivity after a hellish week of travel. A person cannot be bummed out around someone that determined and happy to be there! Our day and a half together was far too short but I am so incredibly grateful that she never gave up on getting to Park City. So grateful, in fact, that I have already invited myself over to her neck of the woods this coming fall. I’m nice like that!
Patrick Next we’ll talk about Patrick. Oh, Patrick. First impression? Well, he may be reading this so I’ll say great things about him. And I probably wouldn’t be lying. Eventually I’ll snag some photos from him and show off his talent in my stories but for now you’ll have to head over to his photography site to oogle his skills. When he wasn’t making us all feel like super stars on the receiving end of the camera lens Patrick was busy catching edges on flat, slow terrain. I am almost surprised he trusted himself to ride with expensive camera equipment strapped to his back… I even fell a few times so he wouldn’t feel left out. Oh, and by the way, he gets my mean sarcasm so he knows I’m not really hatin’!
Dave Then there is Dave. I knew Dave before we headed west to Utah so all of our first impressions were out of the way. He hates running. I call him a wimp for not trying harder. I’m pretty sure he would kick my butt at climbing. But we’re cool…the cheeses of Wisconsin bring us together! He grew up in a tiny town only a few hours from my tiny town and moved to Colorado for the mountains. We may never run or climb side by side but we’ll always have our home state and mountain love in common! And if you’re looking for entertainment ask him about his YouTube videos…they will not disappoint!
Andy And while we are talking about Colorado residents we can address the presence of Andy Commandy, or just Andy. Your choice. We met in the Denver Airport as I was downing an overpriced coffee with extra shots of espresso. I probably should have introduced myself as “Hi, I’m Heidi and you do not want to sit near me on the plane, I’ll talk your ear off!”. But I didn’t, and he survived the flight. As the youngest one in the group Andy took a lot of harassment. But the guy can ski so we accepted him as the college kid that he is. I may have even been a bit jealous that he got to back to classes, not an office.
Seth The first #OmniTen-er I met once landing in Salt Lake City was Seth. Seth was not quite what I expected. His concern for his skis combined with his mountain man beard confused me. Turns out he was right about the lacking snow coverage in Utah and the man can rock a beard…and a pink jogging suit. Not what I expected at all, but in the best way possible. Seth seems to know a thing or two about life and I am very jealous of the 6 month trip he and his wife are taking around South America…I’d highly recommend following along on his blog – Plains & Peaks!
Derek Of our group the most level headed one was probably Derek and considering the number of times we got kicked out of the hot tub this is a compliment to Derek! Granted, he did arrive recovering from a horrid chest cold so maybe it was the meds that kept he mellow? Regardless, the moments of calm conversation with Derek were much appreciated! He has hiked hundreds of miles of trails in California but can still hold his own on slopes! And when he runs out of trails in California I might know a few good ones around Colorado!
Beth On Monday afternoon I wandered back to my apartment to find a new resident - Beth! I walked in, announced my presence and then we got down to business trading out gear based upon size and color. Anyone willing to swamp clothes seconds after meeting is cool in my book…and thanks to her rather nomad-ic life she also appreciated hot showers far more than I did. We belonged in our room together! But the real first impression didn’t come until Twister. Yes, Twister…Beth sorts of rocks at Twister. Not only can she tie herself in knots this chick is strategic! One can’t really put your foot on green circle if Beth is painfully stretched across the entire board. No wonder she is currently dominating the #OmniGames with her teammate Justin!
Joshua Joshua drove up from Salt Lake City on Monday and I knew exactly who he was when I walked into the Hub. The short guy with the strength to climb! I’m observant like that! We spent a few days riding and he gave us the lowdown on the other seasons coming in. Thanks to his prime location in Salt Lake he has met a lot of past #OmniTen-ers at the OR Show, reunions and climbing excursions! Joshua was a riot – he knows how to instigate and as long as I’m not the target I find it quite entertaining!
Wendy We did end up going the entire week missing our tenth #OmniTen member. Wendy was unable to make it due to insane weather on the East Coast. We definitely missed her…next time we’ll make it happen!
And there you have it – my crew. Yup, I’m claiming them. If it had been a season vs season competition at the #OmniGames I’m pretty sure we would have rocked at life. Heck, even without a competition we rock at life. I had an incredible week with my #OmniTen crew and cannot say enough great things about each one of them. Yes…all of them! It obviously takes more than a week for us to get tired of each other. Hint. Hint.
We spent our first three days together snowboarding/skiing, eating food with ingredients I had to Google and rehydrating in the hot tub. Many first impressions were made but friendships still grew! I think it is safe to say we all had a blast frolicking around the mountain. That may be an assumption but, come on, I have photographic proof of our excitement…
A huge thank you to Columbia for making a 4am alarm on Monday a good thing, for being excited to see us, for feeding us before we even had the chance to get hungry, for being prepared with everything imaginable and for just plain being awesome. And when I say “Columbia” I really mean Daniel and Tori! You were our first impression of the people behind the company and if you ask me, I think you were phenomenal! Thank you for everything.
Now that I have waxed poetically about a group of people who were internet strangers less than 10 days ago I’ll move on…to the extra special treatment we got during the reveal of the Olympic uniforms, World Cup VIP access, a fashion show and more! That is what is on deck for tomorrow, then I’ll close out the week with the big event of the trip – the #OmniGames!
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.
Lessons Learned :: the things I learned about myself, others and life while competing in the #OmniGames
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.