Beehive Sport and Social Club coming up on 10-year anniversary

Story by DYLAN VALERIO

One night after a long day behind his desk working for the big tobacco company Marlboro, Dave Marquardt realized he wasn’t happy with the career path he had taken. He sat and thought about how his life was going.

He realized one of the only things that brought him joy was playing kickball with his friends after work at River City Sport and Social Club. It was a place where he could have fun, let loose, and relieve himself of stress. 

However, the people running the club weren’t friendly to their participants. Then the life-changing idea popped into Marquardt’s head: He recalled thinking he could do the same thing as these guys, but significantly better. The idea of Beehive Sport and Social Club was then born. 

Marquardt soon quit his job and moved back to Salt Lake City from Richmond, Virginia. He then called his old friend James Accettura to invite him into his idea. Accettura quickly agreed without hesitation. Marquardt credits him with helping the most along the way. 

Now, Beehive is approaching its 10-year anniversary as the only adult sports club in the Salt Lake City area where adults can have fun while also staying active.

Beehive’s website currently lists 11 different leagues. They consist of multiple sports ranging from cornhole and pickleball to the more traditional kickball and softball. All the leagues are co-ed. Players pay a fee to participate in each league with the price varying for different sports.

Beehive, founded in 2011, hasn’t always been what it is today. When the club first started, it didn’t offer 11 sports, but just one. It has taken dedicated hard work to build Beehive to its current position. Most of this didn’t happen in the beginning or all at once, but instead throughout the years.

Accettura said starting Beehive wasn’t difficult, but still required them to do new things such as building schedules, writing rules, and finding equipment. The pair had never done any of this before and it pulled them out of their comfort zone.

“Thankfully, me and Dave’s skills are complementary so we would both work on everything together and strengthen each other,” Accettura said in an email interview.

Marquardt and Accettura agreed they didn’t want to make the club about the sports, but instead about the people playing them. Marquardt said they wanted to serve not just ex-jocks looking to relive their glory days, but also people who just wanted to have fun too.

“The point has to be to introduce people to a fun environment where they can meet people and enjoy the games,” Accettura said. “Building personal relationships is the most important thing for us.”

Beehive is a place where people, especially those new to Salt Lake City, can find a social life and meet new friends. Marquardt said in a phone interview that in their 10 years, Beehive has been responsible for “65 marriages, 24 babies, and about 1,000 one-night stands.”

According to Ryan Chisolm, a current participant in one of Beehive’s leagues, this is exactly what Beehive has done. Chisolm, also known by his stage name Bangarang when he performs as a DJ, has been a participant in the club for about seven years.

“You meet some really cool people. Everyone here is dope,” Chisolm said in an email interview. He added that Beehive creates a fun and safe environment. “You can be yourself and no one cares.”

Chisolm is one of about 10,000 people who participate in Beehive each year, Marquardt said. In order to create a positive environment for so many people, the club has 80 part-time employees who have an extremely large role. These employees include referees and social-media specialists who “define the league,” Marquardt said. 

Marquardt, Accettura, and all of Beehive have continued to try to make the community and their participants the main focus of the club. This has been more difficult this year compared to any other due to COVID-19 and social distancing guidelines. 

Beehive is sport-dependent and participants are always in close contact. This means coronavirus had a better chance to affect Beehive compared to other organizations. According to Marquardt, 70-80% of sport and social clubs across America have been forced to go out of business because of coronavirus.

The beginning of the pandemic was the most uncertain time for Beehive. According to Marquardt and Accettura, they had to shut down from March 12 to July 6, cancel one of their biggest events of the year, and push all their leagues to the next season.

During the shutdown, Beehive still continued to try to bring their participants together. “We organized movie nights, weekly Zoom Trivia, and Zoom Bingo,” Accettura said. Beehive is also planning a bingo night for the University of Utah.

Now, leagues are reopen, and Beehive is doing everything it can to make sure everyone is safe. For example, Beehive doesn’t play any sports indoors, it requires masks for all participants, has people use sanitizer, and cleans all equipment regularly. “The main thing we have done is try to create space within the games,” Accettura said.

Looking back on their 10 years, Marquardt and Accettura are proud of what they have been able to create and that it’s lasted so long. No matter what they have faced, they have tried to put their participants first in order to create a community where people are able to have fun and be themselves. 

Even as Marquardt looks back on the past success of the Beehive Sport and Social Club, he looks forward to its future. “When I die,” he said, “I want this to keep going without me.”

The Brighton Resort gears up for the 2019-20 ski season

Story and photos by ISA ALCARAZ

The snow falls lightly on the massive mountains that hug the Salt Lake Valley. It’s November, but the snow already finds a place on the hills, its home for the next five months. The arrival of snow this early often creates pandemonium among many locals. They scramble to crank their thermostats and shelter in, wrap themselves in blankets and simply watch from their windows.

But for some, winter’s arrival is a “call of the wild,” and the snow is a sign of the most wonderful time the year: ski season.

Skiing, snowboarding, and other snow activities act as a fundamental pillar for the tourism industry in Utah. Utah is home of the “Greatest Snow on Earth” after all. But IMG_2975what does it actually take to be a ski resort in Utah, a place with a prominent ski culture for locals and tourists?

The Brighton Ski Resort knows exactly how to get the job done.

The Brighton Resort, just 20 minutes up Big Cottonwood Canyon, features over 1,050 acres of skiable land and gets 500 inches of snowfall annually. That being said, there’s a lot of groundwork that goes into being one of the biggest ski resorts in Utah.

The Technical Side

“There are so many departments, you have your tickets department, your maintenance department, you have your lifts departments, your ski schools, and food and beverage,” said Jared Winkler, Brighton’s director of marketing, about what the pre-season looks like for the resort.

“Everyone kind of has their own set list of things to do to prepare for another season or the following season,” he said. And some departments, like ticketing and marketing, are already planning for next season. “We’re working on 2020-21 already, if you can believe that,” Winkler said.

However, some departments need less time to get ready. For example, the food and beverage and ski school departments begin only a month before it starts getting cold. Other aspects of the resort, like the ski lifts and equipment, require year-round maintenance, and are inspected all summer long.

Winkler said the biggest task for the Brighton Resort is hiring a new seasonal staff each year.

Luckily, Brighton keeps a staff of about 30 people who hold down the fort all year long. They take care of all the busy work so when that first snow hits, they’re ready to open.

“We can usually open off of a forecast,” Winkler said. “We usually will open just with a week or two’s notice, even to all of our staff.”

Due to the system and flexibility it’s developed, Brighton is traditionally the first Utah ski resort to open each year.

Utah Skis

Utah has created a prominent “ski culture,” especially for locals. They grow up skiing, and many choose to help instill the love of it in younger generations by becoming instructors.

Jayde Shepherd, a junior at the University of Utah, was a ski instructor at Snowbird for three years after finding a passion for it.

“Teaching kids how to ski was so much fun because I learned more with every class that I taught,” she said. “But also because the kids were so sweet, and I got to know most of them so personally. They trusted me and looked up to me.”

Shepherd was just 3 years old when she was first put on the slopes. After learning how to ski, she stopped going because she didn’t have anyone to go with. But many years later, she found herself up there again after being re-taught by her boyfriend at the time.

“Once we got up there it was like I had found my people and one of my passions again,” she said. The mountains became a second home to Shepherd.

“I love everything about skiing. Once I started again, I knew that I would never be able to live somewhere without mountains,” she said. “Once I became a part of the ski culture, I found a source for my identity.”

Brighton’s Culture

The Brighton Resort is the place where a love for skiing originated for many locals. And it takes pride in its uniqueness compared to the 10+ other resorts in Utah.

“Brighton is historically known to be a place where people learn to ski and snowboard,” said Winkler, director of marketing.

Brighton is home to all degrees of skiers. From beginners who are learning for the first time on a bunny hill, like Explorer, to elite experts who shred down giant trails, like Great Western, all levels have a place on the mountain.

Brighton also takes pride in the many “genres” of snow activities that are welcomed at the resort. Not just skiers and snowboarders, but snow-bikers and snow-skaters are also included.

Gavin Skirucha, a local skier and freelance ski instructor, favors the Brighton Ski Resort over other resorts in Utah for one main reason — its terrain parks, where skiers can practice and perform tricks.

“Brighton’s cool in a way that it embraces a culture of riding that other resorts are starting to reject,” Skirucha said. “Brighton’s terrain parks embrace and promote advancement in your skills as a skier, they even offer junior slope style courses for the very early skiers.”

Like Skirucha, many other skiers in Utah are looking for that extra value for the money they pay to spend the whole winter riding.

“The lift tickets are some of the cheapest in the state,” Winkler said. Brighton Resort lift tickets range from $28 to $65, while Solitude Mountain Resort charges from $72 to $105. Also, parking at Brighton is free.

These are important aspects to keeping local skiers skiing, and keeping the diversity of the riders alive at Brighton.

The Brighton Resort’s contribution to Utah’s ski culture is immense, and allows people to find the adventure and community they seek when it’s cold out.

“It’s hard to fit in in a place so dominated by religion,” said U student Shepherd. “But on the mountain, everyone is placed in a position of excitement, adrenaline, and even fear. I feel like that unifies us and makes everyone so kind to each other. It’s like we all found a common ground just for a moment.”

Get Involved

As the Brighton Resort indulges in the excitement for the big opening, it also keeps in mind the importance of helping those less fortunate during this time of the year.

On the first three Wednesdays in December, Brighton puts on charitable donation drives: a toy drive, a clothing drive, and a food drive. In exchange for donations, they offer $25 lift tickets.

The first donation drive will take place on Dec. 4, 2019.

For updates on Brighton’s charitable donation drives, and for more information about the resort, visit the website, Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook @brightonresort.

The Brighton Resort’s Majestic and Explorer lifts are now open, and staff have been greeted with many early-bird skiers, clocking in as many hours on the mountain as possible. As the deep cold creeps in and the snow begins to stick, consider taking part in the adventure. The ski season is just beginning, and plans to stay around for the upcoming five months. Six, if we’re lucky.

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Expansion of Rice-Eccles Stadium

Story and Photos by TUCKER SCOTT

In Salt Lake City, 1927 marked the first time the Utah Utes football team defeated the Colorado Mines in their first home opener in Ute Stadium. 

In 1972 The University of Utah was donated $1 million by Robert L. Rice  to create a football stadium by the name of Rice Stadium. 

Fast forward to 1997 when a Utah alumnus, Spencer Eccles announced that George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation would donate $10 million toward the construction of the new stadium. They agreed to keep the previous donor’s name along with their name as part of the new stadium called Rice-Eccles Stadium. 

They started the remodel by replacing the stadium frame with modern steel, including a concrete and glass facility. The football schedule was never interrupted by the construction as they had it built in less than 10 months. 

Since the previous rebuild of the stadium, Rice-Eccles Stadium has hosted a variety of events from concerts, super cross, monster jam, and also the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Since the last stadium expansion, Rice-Eccles Stadium has been home to the Utes for over 20 years, giving fans the experience they have always wanted. 

In 2010 the Utah Utes received an invitation to join the PAC 10 Conference, which is now the PAC 12 conference. Since joining the conference Utah has gained a larger audience that attends the football games. For consecutive years they have been selling out the stadium and only having standing room only tickets available. 

Then there was some buzz going around about another stadium expansion. Plans started to develop as the Athletics Program wanted to expand the size of the stadium by around 5,000 seats. The estimated funding for a project like this was around $35 million in donations. 

On Aug. 13, 2019, the unexpected occurred. The Ken Garff family gifted Utah Athletics the largest donation in the history of Utah Athletics. They donated $17.5 million to the renovation of the new stadium. The other amount needed will be donated by several other revenue sources.

In a recent interview with Coach Kyle Whittingham, he said, “This really cements this project and makes it an absolute reality.” Whittingham expressed his gratitude toward everybody who is helping make this stadium expansion happen. 

The number of seats that will be added will be around 5,144. The stadium currently holds a capacity of 45,800 and the Utes have sold out 57 consecutive football games. The plans are about 1,000 more stadium seating in the corners and the rest will be premium seating with terraces on each side of the goalposts, suites, loges, club seats, and rooftop seating. 

The south bowl will be enclosed allowing fans to walk around the entire stadium without having to leave the stadium.

Ron McBride, the University of Utah head coach for the football team in 1990, took a team who was barely winning five games and turned the program around. In two years he took the program to the Copper Bowl, the program’s first bowl appearance in 28 years.  McBride said that he was excited to see the tedium expansion be complete. “This has been a long time coming,” he said. “We have been needing some more room for our fans to cheer us on.” McBride still attends the games on the sideline as he watches the team take on their opponents in Rice-Eccles Stadium.

One major thing that was discussed with the designers of the stadium expansion was seats. Fans wanted more seats so they could enjoy the game and not only be in the standing room only section. 

Cade Carter, a student at the U, was late in buying his MUSS student section ticket so he has the standing room only tickets. Although he enjoys watching the games, he dislikes the fact that he has to stand the whole game. “I really enjoy watching the games and being in that type of environment, but I really dislike how much standing I have to do,” he said. “With the stadium expansion I really am excited to see how the seating will play out next year.” 

With all this excitement about the stadium being rebuilt it has everyone anticipating the final result. The stadium is set to be finished in August 2021. 

Zions Bank Real Academy

Story and gallery by TANEON ROOD 

Zions Bank Real Academy, located in Herriman, Utah, has established itself as one of the best soccer academies in all of North America. The academy has been operating in Utah since 2018 and has already developed some of the greatest soccer prospects in the United States. 

Dell Loy Hansen, owner of Real Salt Lake, privately funded the Zions Bank Real Academy. The academy broke ground in August 2016 and officially opened on Feb 28, 2018, with dignitaries from the state, Real Salt Lake and Major League Soccer, including Commissioner Don Garber in attendance. Building the facilities cost $60 million. It is the largest pre engineered freestanding steel structure in North America, said Taran Meyer, senior manager of communications.

Before Zions Bank Real Academy was built, Real Salt Lake’s only academy was located in Tempe, Arizona, and started operating in 2010. 

Real Salt Lake Academy High School is a charter school located right next to Zions Bank Real Academy, which gives high school students an opportunity to play soccer at Zions Bank Real Academy if they want to. 

Real Salt Lake Academy High School and Zions Bank Real Academy fly under the same flag. While they operate differently on the school side, all soccer-related activities of the sanctioned U.S. Soccer Development Academy teams are overseen from Real Salt Lake down. However, both of them help complement each other in many different ways.

About 30% of the 163 students who attend the high school, also train and play at Zions Bank Real Academy. Real Salt Lake Academy High School uses the STEM program, to ensure that the players who attend the charter school get the highest level of education they possibly can get. 

This means that the players not only get top training and development in soccer, but also a top education to go along with it. This ends up making the academy experience for players really rewarding. 

Real Academy President Jacob Haueter has confidence in the academy and thinks it’ll help grow the amount of local soccer talent. “I see more of an opportunity for players within Utah to play at the professional level,” Haueter said.   

A few players from Utah have played for the academy and gone on to play for Real Salt Lake in the past, like Taylor Peay and Phanuel Kavita. Now the number of players coming from Utah who play for the academy continues to grow at a fast rate.  

The format that the academy uses to develop players is really similar to how European clubs develop their talent. Zions Bank Real Academy is one of the only soccer academies in North America that has player housing, so academy players can stay on campus.

Fans of Real Salt Lake might be familiar with what a “homegrown” player is. But in case some people don’t know, a homegrown player is a player who played for the academy when they were young and can later on be signed by Real Salt Lake. The homegrown player then gets signed to a homegrown contract, where they will not count against the club’s salary and will sign for a minimum amount of money. 

The homegrown system is a great way for clubs around the world to get young talent that they’ve already been developing themselves. Real Salt Lake currently has 13 homegrowns on the roster, and the numbers will keep growing in the future as the academy continues to expand.

While there have been many players in the academy who are from Utah, the academy gets most of their prospects from other states. “A majority of the academy players are from out-of-state, so it allows us to scout and recruit more and more players, which is helpful,” said Academy Goalkeeper coach Mirza Harambasic. 

Each club has its own territories for where they can choose to get their players from. If a player who is in another club’s territory wants to train and develop under Zions Bank Real Academy, they will need to ask for permission to be released from the current academy they’re with. Utah currently has two states where players can be signed, which are Utah and Arizona. Under Major League Soccer regulations, Real Salt Lake is the only club allowed to recruit youth players from Arizona. 

There are open territories where any club can sign players from, Las Vegas and Northern California being the main territories where the academy finds its out-of-state prospects. Any area within a certain mile radius where there isn’t a professional Major League Soccer club is an open area for any club in North America to find young talent. 

Eventually, some of the young prospects at the academy will become signed by the top European clubs in the world like Real Madrid of La Liga and Liverpool of the English Premier League. The academy encourages the young players to sign with European clubs if it’s the decision they’ll be the most happy with. There’s also a positive to young academy players signing in Europe, as these clubs pay money for these young players and it helps the academy get money. That is the business side of the academy, which is what helps keep it running and continuously developing talent. 

In January 2019, Taylor Booth became the first Utahn from the academy to ever be signed by a top-tier Bundesliga club in Bayern Munich, which is located in Munich, Germany. 

Harambasic added that the academy has grown and improved since expanding to Utah from Arizona, and he hopes that the academy continues to grow and become more successful going forward. However, Harambasic still thinks that the academy isn’t world-class yet. “There’s definitely still time to improve. I definitely think we’re a top-tier academy in the United States, but comparing it to a world quality academy, we’re not there yet, but I do think we’re taking the right steps to get there one day,” he said. 

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Park City locals discuss Epic and Icon Passes’ impact on the community

Story and photographs by ASHLEIGH THOMAS

Vail’s Epic Pass and Altera’s Icon Pass have changed and shaped the landscape of the modern-day ski culture and business. Park City, Utah, is growing and changing at a rapid rate due to the passes. They invite skiers and snowboarders all over the world to buy a single ski pass that allows them to ski at multiple ski resorts.

Utah locals must prepare and consider the new changes to the Utah ski industry as the upcoming season approaches.

Park City is home to Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Mountain Resort, two culturally rich and unique ski areas that many people call home. These passes are altering the “Park City ski culture” as we know it, in part because the ski industry has been globalized on a huge scale. These passes give access to resorts all over the world including in Australia, Europe, Asia, Canada, and South America. But at this scale what are the lasting effects on small ski towns like Park City and the Park City way of life? Are these passes changing the industry for the better or for worse?

Many locals have described their feelings about the Icon and Epic Passes’ impact on Park City as a mix of good and bad.

Kathy Burke, the buyer for Cole Sport, described her feelings in an email interview about whether the Icon and Epic pass are beneficial to Park City or not. “I have mixed feelings about this. Being in retail, I am in favor of controlled growth and commerce. The town has grown and has more job opportunities for jobs.” However, she added, “the impact on traffic and the carbon footprint is having an impact on this town.”

Another Park City local, Renee Godin, PSIA ski instructor and level 300 ski coach USSA, discussed her experience with the growth. Godin said in an email interview that she has noticed the town has become busier. She also has experienced the impact of increased tourism with crowded restaurants, scarce parking spots, and slower commutes. “These are problems that locals find to be annoying, but more tourists for the local business is what it’s all about, it is what a small town thrives on. Tourist dollars, and that’s what people sometimes forget.”

Park City is known all over the world for being a unique ski town with something for everyone to enjoy and experience. Park City’s charm and ski culture is what made many Park City locals want to lay down roots and live there. “What brought me to Park City was the idea of being able to jump on a bus and ski 3 different ski areas, in one town making a European experience in the middle of the USA!” Godin said.

Park City’s Historic Main Street is one of the main attractions of Park City. Burke said Main Street is changing quickly due to the fact national corporate retail chains are seeing incentives to open their shops where locally-owned business have existed for years.

“My favorite characteristic is the community spirit of Park City and its heritage to its mining history,” Burke said, “specifically characterized through the historic commitment to preserving Main Street and Old Town. I think the Epic and Icon transition is bringing a commercial element to Main Street with its national chain stores. The growth in mono brand stores and national chains diminished the charm and uniqueness of specialty retail and character and integrity of Main Street.”

The economic development and change in the community’s character aren’t the only things that are evolving from the Icon and Epic Passes. The “on the hill” experience is also changing, said Chuck English, a former mountain manager at Deer Valley. He added that a couple of years ago locals could ski on wide open runs on the weekdays and sometimes even on the weekends. But that is no longer a reality. The number of visitors on the hill has greatly increased, creating longer lines, crowded runs, and busy lodges.

“The Icon has definitely changed DV (Deer Valley). Their stated intention of limiting skiers to the maintain quality experiences has gone by the wayside. They are not able to limit Icon pass holders even though they encourage them to make reservations,” English said in an email interview.

The Icon and Epic Passes may be attractive to some and less attractive to others. When asked about the expense of skiing and the experience as a whole, English added, “To a person who is already a skier the passes make it more affordable. Season pass prices were getting very expensive and I feel like some people might have started to drop out based on cost.” He thinks that there is less of an incentive and focus for new skiers to participate or buy a season pass. “This is a serious problem for the industry,” he said. This is an aspect that will change ski culture in the long term and is something to consider for new skiers and snowboarders.

With all things considered the Epic and Icon pass are creating an evolved modern ski and snowboard experience. They are a force to be reckoned with and will have a lasting impact on the industry and ski culture in Park City.

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All you need to know about Utah men’s basketball player Donnie Tillman

Story and photos by SAMIRA IBRAHIM

Donnie Tillman’s successful start in his first four games as a freshman paved the way for him to secure minutes in games during the rest of his collegiate basketball career.

Now a sophomore, Tillman, 19, stands at 6-foot-7 and weighs 225 pounds. He has become an immediate impact for the Utah men’s basketball. He averages 20.3 minutes per game and is ranked fifth among his team members. Tillman is an important element for the Pac-12 basketball team.

Even though his sophomore season came to an unpleasant end with the team’s overall record of 17-14 and no ticket punch to the March Madness dance, Tillman has remained grounded and is ready to get to work and prepare for next season.

“I make sure that my focus is directed toward improvement rather than all the backlash and comments about our performance this season,” Tillman said. “It just allows me to focus on becoming better and getting some future wins for our team.”

Tillman was born and raised in Detroit and is the son of Donna and Johnnie Tillman with four other siblings. Out of the four boys, Tillman is the youngest. He often looked up to his oldest brother, Bishop, who played as a Division II point guard for Wayne State University. His brother basically paved the way for Tillman and his love for basketball.

As his mother Donna was a single mother raising her boys, she was also battling illness and would often get sick. There would be instances where her epilepsy got so bad, that she needed to quit her job as poker dealer for MotorCity Casino. But she was fortunate enough that it allowed her to support her son and let him finish high school.

He and his mother received a call about an opportunity to attend and play for Findlay Prep in Las Vegas. This is a nationally-recognized high school basketball program that has produced many NBA draft picks. In less than two weeks they made the decision to drop everything and move 2,000 miles away from home in time for him to enroll in the basketball program.

“Everybody thought I was crazy for leaving everything I had known and grew up with. But I knew that this was fate and written for me and so I just had to take the leap of faith. I was also only 15 years old, so you can only imagine how scared I kinda was,” Tillman said.

He and his mother sold everything in their home and everything they owned, then took a ride and never looked back. It wasn’t necessarily easy making the move, as the road trip included many tears and fond memories that they shared along the drive.

“I was always aware of Findlay Prep but they said there are going to be a lot of differences, but it is going to be the best thing for me,” Tillman said. “It took us four days to get there, I was definitely having second thoughts and didn’t know what I got myself into.”

He played three seasons at Findlay Prep where he averaged 14.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, and shot 65 percent as a senior. Tillman had a few injuries in his first two seasons but still helped his team to a 33-4 overall standing record.

When Tillman decided to sign with the Runnin’ Utes at the end of his senior year in high school, his mother counted more than 20 scholarship offers. He was ranked as a four-star recruit by ESPN.com coming out of high school.

After committing to Utah, Tillman said people expected him to be an even better collegiate player than he was in high school. His mother also was excited about his decision to come to Salt Lake City because it offered a strong emphasis on families.

For his sophomore season at Utah, in a vote of the 12 conference coaches, Tillman was named Pac-12 Sixth Man of the Year. 

“He is a great team player on and off the court. Donnie constantly works hard and just wants what’s best for our team. I see him making it to the league for sure,” said teammate Timmy Allen.

Better safe than sorry: What to know before setting out

Story and photos by CAROLINE J. PASTORIUS

Avoiding avalanches is much easier than trying to survive one.

Outside of Denver, CO
Feb. 24, 2019

Many climbers, skiers, snowmobilers and outdoor enthusiasts are not aware of the proper precautions for avalanche and snow safety. The dangers of this type of recreation require more preparation and knowledge than you may think.

It’s not as simple as reading a pamphlet or set of instructions to prepare you to take on the outdoors, it’s about knowing what you are headed into and being fully prepared for and aware of the risks that come with venturing into nature.

Park City, UT |March 10, 2019

Mark Staples, director of the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center, labels himself as an extremely experienced outdoor enthusiast and emphasizes, “There is no way to assure safety once you’re out in the wilderness. But there are ways to go about it safely, and that’s the best you can do,” Staples says in a phone interview.

Park City, UT (backcountry) | March 3, 2019

The elementary rule comes first and foremost when preparing to take on this type of terrain; do not travel alone. “Always make sure you have the proper education and tools before going into the backcountry, and make sure your partner does as well,” says Jordan Hicks from REI Cooperative. Hicks also added a helpful tip. “Make sure you have a set plan before you head out and tell somebody that plan in case you’re late coming home so they can notify authorities.”

Hicks also says to be aware of your surroundings. The cause of 90 percent of avalanches that harm a victim or members of the victim’s group is caused by their own missteps. Any foreign activity caused in a natural environment that adds weight that wasn’t there before can easily trigger downfall. A helpful way to foresee the conditions on the mountain before enduring it is to check daily aspects like the weather forecast and condition of the mountain on the day of your travel, both of which are easily accessible online. He says some red flags include unsteady snow, heavy snowfall or rain, posted warning signs, wind loading, and persistent weak layers. Avoiding avalanches altogether is much easier than trying to survive one, so take the precautions seriously.

Snacks. Water. Fuel. You can never be too prepared. Josh Alexander from Utah Ski and Golf recommends that you should “bring two times more than you expect to consume on your trip.”

Alexander also shared a story about his personal experience of being buried in an avalanche and what he learned from it. “Luckily, I was well prepared for any possible situation. I went out with a buddy of mine in the backcountry of Canada a few years back, somewhere we have never been before.” In retrospect, this was a red flag. You should never travel on unfamiliar territory when visiting it for the very first time. Alexander recommends scoping out uncharted terrain a day before riding it. Also, he mentions researching the area online to check previous travelers’ comments.

The avalanche that affected him was caused by a collision he had with a snowboarder, which produced a rush of snow and carried him about 100 yards. Being unable to breathe for that time, he saw his life flash before him.

Park City, UT |March 10, 2019

After coming to a halt, Alexander realized his friend was nowhere in sight. In fact, nothing was. It was all white. “I was completely lost, and all of my calls for help got absorbed in the snow I was buried in. I knew I had to find help but I also didn’t want to use too much oxygen, since I wasn’t sure how long I would be stuck there for.” He settled his pulse and remembered focus on what he learned to do when caught in this sort of situation.

He took a deep breath and started “swimming” against gravity to get closer to the surface of the snow pile in attempt to get any sort of signal for his avalanche beacon (a small radio that transmits a lost or dangered travelers’ location to rescue crews). He soon started transmitting his device, which was caught by his partner on the receiving end. Finally, he was located, rescued, and lives to tell the story. If the pair was not prepared for the worst-case scenario and did not hold the necessary tools, Alexander had a slim chance of survival.

There is only a 30 percent chance of escaping when buried by an avalanche. Take the lessons taught and learned in this article next time you think about getting involved in avalanche-prone territory. Always remember that you are in control of your own safety in uncharted territory.

Millennials are complaining about low pay but favor perks over high compensation

Story and gallery by SAIGE HAWKINS

The cost of living continues to rise and millennials are continuing to struggle to afford it. A common gripe for the cause of this is that they are not being paid appropriately. But is that really at the root of the cause? Experts in their field have noted that in order to keep up with hiring demand, flashy perks and events have become a necessity in order to maintain top talent millennials at a company.

“Most of the people we hire for our corporate office are under 40 and are more initially attracted to little perks that make their day-to-day in the office more tolerable, rather than their income.” says Erika Park, the manager of perks and benefits for Backcountry, an online outdoor retail company based out of Park City, Utah.

This is a position human resources professionals have heard more than once, and yet 18-35-year-olds are often complaining about their compensation. The most repeated comment left in Backcountry’s exit interviews was that departing employees weren’t paid enough. It is also the most common reason employees not at the corporate level were leaving Backcountry. One comment stated, “The free food and fun events are nice, but at the end of the day my paycheck didn’t reflect the work I’d put in.”

This isn’t a problem unique to Backcountry, as the cast member culture at Disneyland reflects the same thing. In Spring and Summer 2018 multiple demonstrations were held across the street from the world-famous theme park by cast members demanding a higher wage. These protests led to union representatives getting involved and beginning negotiations with the company’s leadership team for a higher hourly pay rate.

Tessa Zalfen, a Disneyland cast member for over a year, said, “No we don’t get paid that much. Most of it has to do with how many hours we get scheduled since it’s based on seniority but I don’t work here for the money. We get discounts, free admission, guest passes, and honestly I just love it here so much I don’t really mind it.” This exemplifies what the millennial generation is demonstrating, a willingness to work more for less if they’re doing something they enjoy even if it’s just the company and their values.

The next generation is displaying a sense of importance for similar values over higher pay. They are happy to be working for a company they admire so the other things don’t matter as much. This values-based employment added with the perks catered to them creates an excellent combination for compensation. If the employees already pay business to a company and will continue to do so, discounting those experiences for them allows them to feel compensated, spend more at the company, and in turn create a win-win scenario.

Corporate perks aren’t just something important to the employee life cycle. They also help draw applicants in and sell them on one job over another. “We’re very fortunate here because we offer so much in regards to activities, discounts, and the great events Erika plans. It makes my job easier because the sales pitch is already laid out for me most times,” said Donna Barker, the senior corporate recruiter for Backcountry.

Even though most of the companies that are able to offer this don’t pay as much as smaller companies, they still combine these perks with name recognition on a resume to make their company desired. “It is definitely a bigger draw for younger people just starting their careers to be somewhere recognizable,” said Park, Backcountry’s manager for perks and benefits.

Park added, “They’re more likely to take something now with less pay that will catapult them to their next opportunity than something that pays well and won’t guarantee advancement later on.”

This sentiment is echoed through Zalfen, the Disneyland cast member, who said, “I plan to stay here awhile because I want to work my way up one day and work for ABC. It’s easier to do that if I’m already here.” A foot in the door method definitely seems to be a direction the millennial generation is being steered into. Zalfen added, “From what I’ve been told, it looks better on a resume to have growth and different positions at one place than to have experience without growth at several different places.”

Corporate perks and growth potential have quickly grown to be one of the biggest factors when looking for a job in today’s market and companies don’t have a reason to change. Why spend more to pay someone for a job when they’re willing to work for less as long as you put a sparkly bow on it? Barker, the senior recruiter, added, “We might not pay as much as smaller warehouses but we don’t need to because people want to work for us before they even hear how much it pays. We attract a very niche crowd and they’ll stay if we help maintain their lifestyle, even if it isn’t through a pay check.”

Road to recovery for one USA Nordic athlete

Story and gallery by KATHERINE SCHUMANN

On July 23, 2018, USA Nordic athlete Stephen Schumann suffered a fall on the K120 ski jumping hill at the Utah Olympic Park, tearing his ACL and meniscus. His focus for the season then turned from training to the recovery of his knee.

That was a huge change for the young athlete of 18. This Olympic hopeful is ranked for the US team and as his coach Blake Hughes said, it “is a huge loss for the team itself and teammates to lose him this winter season.”

Schumann’s entire focus of life has been his sport and getting to the Olympics. Last winter Schumann missed the Olympic spot for the 2018 winter Olympics in Peyong Chang by just a point, coming in fifth when the team cut off is four athletes.

Not being able to make the Olympic team drove Schumann’s focus for the upcoming four years and the next Olympics. He knew he had to train harder and get faster to make that cut the next time.

After the fall when Schumann heard his knee snap he said, “At that point I knew my season was over and it absolutely devastated me.” For the young athlete he felt like his Olympic chances were over. He worried about the future of his career as an athlete, his sponsorships, and mostly his childhood dream of the Olympics.

“For a while Schumann was angry at himself and the world for letting this happen,” Hughes said. Mentally it was especially hard when his teammates were off to Europe for another round of training and competitions and Schumann was stuck on the couch resting.

Schumann expected the hardest part of his injury to be the physical recovery and getting his strength back to normal. But what he learned was the hardest part is the mental recovery The physical aspect he found to be simple.

“You can only push your body to a safe point,” he said. “That’s not confusing. Dealing with your emotions while having a lot of free time to think about it. That’s confusing.”

After waiting a week Schumann got two surgery dates a month apart. The surgery was to be done by Dr. Robert Burks at the University of Utah Orthopedic Clinic. He was also comforted by knowing that his team doctor, Jonathan Finnoff at the Mayo Clinic in Minneapolis, a sponsor of the USA Nordic team, was working directly with Burks.

Having his team doctor by his side and a plan made it easier for Schumann to feel confident about the surgery and process of healing. With all his free time and the doctors supervising his physical healing, Burks said, “The news of two surgeries brought the young athlete to tears, more bad news he didn’t want to hear.”

Schumann started physical therapy at the Alpine Physical Therapy Clinic two times a week, and at the USSA Center of Excellence with James Stray-Gundersen. He is the founder of B-Strong Bands.

Physical therapy gave Schumann a way to focus on the sport he loved in a different aspect, seeing one of the two physical therapists at least five days per week and sometimes six keeps him busy and focused.

Stray-Gundersen said, “Working with a young athlete at this capacity was eye-opening. These kids are so driven and dedicated to their sport.” As a professional athlete Schumann’s recovery is expedited going through the general steps that any meniscus and ACL physical therapy recovery would go through. But moving through them faster, with more visits and the B-Strong.

“The hardest part Schumann has faced with this expedited recovery is that he feels the need to push himself like he would when training, but recovery is different than training and recovering correctly is the most important thing to getting his physical strength back to 100 percent,” Stray-Gundersen said.

After Schumann’s second surgery he was more motivated than ever knowing that he is done with the medically mechanical side of the injury and now that he can work one day at a time toward his end goal, total recovery and competing again. The recovery has been straightforward, and Schumann said  he “has taken huge strides finding happiness in the little victories.”

Schumann has learned so much from this experience that he feels has made him into a stronger person and athlete and will help him come back not only more motivated but mentally stronger.

Having felt as though he already knew a lot about his body and physical limits as an athlete this experience has taught him that you can’t control everything, taking things slow is sometimes better, and your body is much smarter than you think it is.

Watch out for Schumann in the near future as he works day in and day out to become the best in the world at the sport that he loves.

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Shane Bryan

IMG_7297My Story: Biking into the Future with Bike Utah

My Blog: Reflection Blog

About Me: Originally from New Hampshire and now a Senior at the University of Utah studying Strategic Communication. Currently Marketing Director for the University’s mountain and road bike team. Always on the move and seeking new challenges. In the future, a dream job would be marketing in the mountain bike or auto industry.

Check out my LinkedIn here

Come support esports at the University of Utah

Story and gallery by HOLLIS LEJA

Esports and video games in general are starting to become a bigger part of our culture. In a 2018 report by the Entertainment Software Association, 60 percent of Americans play video games daily, and in 2017 Americans spent over $29 billion on video games. The report also said “56% of the most frequent gamers play multiplayer games.”

The University of Utah is one of the first universities in the nation to have a college esports team. This is something to be excited about because it is likely you may be a video game fan too. Entertainment Arts & Engineering (EAE) is the name of the department leading this change and it has created the first varsity esports team in the U’s conference.

The university’s EAE program is one of the top programs in the world for video game development. It is rated no. 3 in the nation for its undergraduate and graduate programs and has published over 100 student-made video games. The U’s esports team was the first varsity esports team in the U.S. and currently offers this unique experience across four different game titles: “Rocket League,” “Hearthstone,” “Overwatch,” and “League of Legends.”

“League of Legends” is one of the most watched third-person Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) games in the world. Two teams of five players battle champions with various roles and abilities to be the first to destroy the other team’s nexus — a structure that is well-defended in the middle of each team’s base.

“League of Legends” was the first game to become part of this program back in 2017 and it boasts one of the largest followings in the esports industry. According to Riot Games, the creator of “League of Legends,” over 80 million people tuned in to watch the World Championship in 2017 and Riot expects that number to only continue growing. The 2018 World Championship concluded at the end of October and was hosted by South Korea. North America, represented by the U.S. team Cloud 9, took fourth. This is the first time an American team has placed in the top-4 since 2012 during the first Worlds Championship.

Riot sees the potential in esports just like the University of Utah does. Riot said it has over 500 university League of Legends Clubs on campuses across the U.S. For the 2019 college season Riot will be offering scholarships to both players and staff of the teams that compete. The 2019 collegiate season will start Jan. 15, just in time for spring semester.

In spring 2018, the University of Utah League of Legends Team was in the top spot for the collegiate tournaments played. AJ Dimmic, the esports director at the U, said the team was able to get over 300,000 views on Twitch last season and created over 350 hours of content. Dimmic is working hard to help the team and program continue to grow while creating a place where fans of gaming can come watch and support some of the university’s best players.

Kenny Green works as game studio relations for the University’s EAE program and volunteers his time as the head coach for the League of Legends Team on campus. He is also a student pursuing his master’s degree in game production. He’s been playing “League of Legends” since it came out on beta for PC in 2009.

Green said he tries to instill a “culture of being a family” with his players. The team works on building trust with one another and practices up to 20 hours a week, helping each other improve at the game as they prepare for the 2019 season.

The U currently has 11 students on scholarship for the League of Legends team, each pursuing different degrees varying from organic chemistry to pre-med. Green said his players are just like any other student-athlete on campus and are held to the same standards. Students in the program must be enrolled as full-time students, maintain a 2.5 GPA, and progress through 20 percent of their degree with each season.

Like most of the players and coaches in the program at the U, Green is very passionate about his role with the team and video games in general. He said some of the biggest challenges they face right now are space and budget. The program is on campus in building 72 located at 332 S. 1400 East, Suite 240, formerly used by the College of Law. Green said he is working on making a bigger area for teams to practice and so people can come watch the team play local games in the old mock courtroom in building 73 located at the same address.

The U and EAE are invested in esports on campus and in improving the program. The student-athletes and staff have worked hard to represent the best the U has to offer. Dimmic, Green and the team said the best way students can support the team and program is to come watch the games on campus and subscribe to the university esports Twitch channel. With student support the U can continue to be a leader in innovation and invest in programs like the ones in EAE.

How Ski Resorts Stay Profitable During the Off Season

Story and Photos by Zac Fox

SALT LAKE CITY — For a business model that profits entirely off of cold weather and snow, how do you maintain profitability without either of the two? Ski resorts across Utah have found ways to stay in the green, and retain profits during the greenest months of the year.

Artboard 1Utah is a mecca for year-round outdoor activity. If you’re in the state, look out your window and you’ll see mountains. No? Drive 30 minutes in any direction and you’ll most likely find yourself in one of the many canyons the Wasatch Front offers. Utah’s five national parks and 14 ski resorts are the major driving force of the state’s tourism industry.

According to the 2017 Economic Report to the Governor, there were roughly 4.5 million skier visits to the state in the winter alone. In order to maintain and maximize profitability, resorts in Utah need to maintain the same number of visitors year-round – not just during the winter. Most resorts are already taking a step in the right direction offering some sort of summer events, but few have completely capitalized on the season.

Whistler-Blackcomb in British Columbia, Canada has primarily been a winter ski resort since 1966, offering minimal summer activities like fishing or hiking. It wasn’t until 1999 when they opened mountain biking trails and offered more summer-focused activities. Sixteen years later, the resort reported 1.6 million visitors in the summer, and 1.1 million visitors in the winter, according to an article from the Vancouver Sun in 2015. Similarly, Winter Park in Colorado pivoted to offer summer activities, despite their namesake.

11282017-6Resorts, like Powder Mountain, are following in the footsteps of Whistler and Winter Park with a shift to a year-round resort. “I think a lot of people saw the success that Winter Park and Whistler were having. Whistler is now making more money on their summer activities than they do in the winter,” explains J.P. Goulet, Marketing Coordinator for Powder Mountain since 2008.

For the past ten years now, Goulet has been leading the charge for a better, more profitable resort. Since 2009, Powder Mountain has been offering more and more summer activities to get people up on the mountain. “We’re a ski resort, but just a resort in general,” says Goulet. “We can offer a bunch [of] activities – people want to get in the mountains and enjoy fresh air.”

Artboard 2 copyUtah resorts have a combined total of over 29,000 skiable acres — roughly the size of 200 Disneyland’s — that cover some of the most beautiful parts of the state. “The biggest asset a resort has is its land,” explains Theresa Foxley, the Chief Executive Officer of the Economic Development Corporation of Utah, “maximize the land and you’ll maximize the profits.”

It seems like common sense to make the switch to a year-round resort, especially when you tally the numbers.

“In the summer, there’s a lot more people that are into outdoor activities,” says Goulet. “There’s only about 6 percent of the Utah population that ski’s more than, I think, three days a year.” From a marketing standpoint, the winter audience in Utah is limited to the 6 percent that actually chooses to ski, but the audience for summer activities jumps significantly.

The resorts, themselves, benefit significantly from being open year-round. For Goulet, it’s “obviously to have some revenues in the summer.” However, it goes beyond profits. In order to implement summer activities, resorts like Powder Mountain have to go over feasibility studies for the entire activity to find out how much they’ll spend or make. A resort has to think of everything from the beginning to the end.

“Bike school programs, rental programs, food and beverage, how much it costs for you to run the lift, how much it costs for staff and patrol,” Goulet says. Additionally, the resorts save time and money by retaining staff around the resort, instead of training new staff every year. Overall, the “more people you have on the mountain the better it is,” Goulet says, “it’s pretty great to be able to offer that.”

Operating a ski resort year round provide a massive benefit, and not just for the resort but for the state as well. “Corporations are looking for talent,” says Foxley, “and talent is drawn to places with great amenities.” Most corporations and employees look for the three A’s:  availability, affordability, and accessibility.

The three A’s are what brought professional snowboarder, Jack Wiley, to Utah. Wiley is originally from Seattle, Washington, and moved here to attend high school at the Winter Sports School in Park City. “I came here because there are seven world-class resorts in your backyard,” Wiley says. “Denver is not as accessible to resorts as you’d think, but Salt Lake City is.” Today, the development of off-season amenities means Wiley, and others living along the Wasatch Front, can leverage those resorts the rest of the year.

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Motor Sports Athletes Conquering the Business World

Andy Bell competing In freestyle motocross

Story by Sicily Romano

SALT LAKE CITY — In motorsports, winnings, and sponsorships don’t generate enough income for athletes to sustain their lives. Subsequently, these athletes compete and accomplish things in sports that some can’t even fathom, all while conquering the business world.

Andy Bell, formerly a freestyle motocross rider, knew from a young age that he wanted to own his own company. “I started racing FMX (freestyle motocross) in 1999 till about 2004,” he says. While riding FMX, Bell saw his first business opportunity. “A lot of athletes, when they are at the top, act too cool for school,” he says. “I saw the opportunity to not only befriend all the athletes but the promoters as well.”

When promoters wanted athletes at their event, Bell realized that he could broker the deal. He leveraged the friendships and connections made as an athlete to start his own production company. “Even while competing, I was never interested in just being an athlete, I knew I wanted to do more,” says Bell.

After several years on Nitro Circus, Bell tried to work as a stuntman, but stunts weren’t bringing enough income. He decided he needed to make something else work.  “I knew nothing about production, other than being in front of the camera,” says Bell. Still, he started his own company with a plan to create 3-D content around action sports “because, at the time when you went into stores and looked at 3-D TVs, all they had for content was, like flowers opening.” Though Bell’s original idea for 3-D videos got sidetracked, his production dream came true when Travis Pastrana asked him to star in a webisode for Red Bull called “On Pace with Pastrana.”

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Travis and Andy Bell on set for On Pace with Pastrana

Bell asked Pastrana if they had a production company yet. One thing led to another and Bell was a producer. After two seasons producing “On Pace with Pastrana,” with Red Bull, Bell expanded his business, using his connections from “Nitro Circus” and as an FMX rider. He contacted Toyota, told them about Sweat Pants Media (his production company) and immediately started producing content for them.

Recently Bell traveled to Canada to produce Toyotas TRD pro commercial, which will showcase Toyotas’ new vehicles expected to hit the market later this year. The commercial will be shown in February at the Chicago auto show.

Bell is one of the many athletes who has taken their love of motorsports and created businesses. Travis Pastrana has done amazing things through the connections and knowledge gained from competing in motorsports. Pastrana started in motocross which because of his success MX, opened additional opportunities.

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Travis Pastrana Jumping Over a plane

Pastrana has always been a daredevil. “(Producer) Gregg Godfrey sent me a Sony 2000 camera and Final Cut Pro 3 to edit on,” he says, “Everyone was coming over to learn backflips that summer. I documented everything and helped build jumps to make their dreams and nightmares come true.”

That was how “Nitro Circus” began. Pastrana has been able to help other athletes make their dreams, or in his word’s “nightmares,” come true. Not only did he created “Nitro Circus,” but he has started a two-event series around it — “Nitro Circus World Games” and “Nitro Circus Live.” Pastrana hosts 70 plus live shows a year, and although his primary business is producing spectator events, he still gets to ride motocross and race cars.

Todd Romano has also created a business by leveraging his knowledge and connections. Romano started out racing mountain bikes in college and soon realized that the guys beating him on bikes were also racing motocross. His sponsors, Specialized and Fox, supported his switch to MX (motocross) where he found his competition racing something even bigger and faster: off-road cars.

Romano discovered a market for aftermarket products for off-road vehicles, specifically side by sides. His first company was Dragon Fire Racing, which sold aftermarket products for (RHINOS). Later,  he sold Dragon Fire and opened Finish Line Marketing, a business to help other motorsports companies with everything from basic business strategy to marketing.

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Todd Romano Jumping Wild Cat XX. Glamis Califronia

Romano has many lucrative connections with sponsors and companies he’s met. He’s been successful pitching himself and his company, leading to partnerships with industry leaders like Hawk Performance. Romano was contracted by Hawk to help grow their company through improved marketing and smoother business operations. Currently, Romano is working with Textron where he has partnered with Robby Gordon to design and produce the Wild Cat XX. He also owns a company that sells aftermarket products for new Textron vehicles called Speed Side by Side.

These are not the only athletes to create business out of the knowledge they have gained from competition, and their success goes to show, you don’t have to give up on your dream to make an income.

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Cool Runnings 2.0: Ghana and Skeleton in the Olympics

by KATIE ANDRESS

SALT LAKE CITY— Ghanaian skeleton athlete, Akwasi Frimpong, became the first skeleton athlete from Ghana to compete in the Winter Olympics in 2018. Today he, along with several former U.S. skeleton coaches and athletes, is forming Ghana’s first Bobsled and Skeleton Federation. Just like the Jamaican bobsled team before him, Akwasi Frimpong is pushing the boundaries of the Olympic status quo.

Frimpong’s goal is the modern-day version of the 1988 Jamaican bobsled team memorialized in “Cool Runnings,” a 1993 movie about the Jamaican team’s road to qualifying and competing in the 1988 Winter Olympics. Thirty years later, Akwasi Frimpong is walking down the same path.

A sprinter on the Dutch 4×100 team, Frimpong had aspirations of being an Olympian since he was 17-years-old. Unfortunately, he missed qualifying for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Later, the Netherlands bobsled team recruited him due to his sprinting ability. After making the bobsled team in 2012, he competed and narrowly missed qualifying for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, being named as the alternate brakeman. In November 2016, his coach convinced him to try skeleton.

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A scenic view from the top of the Lake Placid, N.Y. track in the fall. AP Photo/Katie Andress

Similar to bobsled, skeleton athletes slide on their stomach, headfirst on a large, lunch-tray style sled. Top athletes reach speeds of over 80 m.p.h., sliding through approximately 15 curves on a mile-long ice track.

After deciding to become a competitive skeleton slider, Frimpong then had to decide what nation to represent; The Netherlands, where he began his track and bobsled career, or his birth country, Ghana. “I was 30 and realized that I had not done anything for the country where I was born and this was a huge opportunity for me to go after my dreams of becoming an Olympian.” The only logical choice would be to compete for his birth country, Frimpong concluded. He also hoped that by doing so, he would inspire the youth of Ghana to venture beyond the comfortable and dare to dream.

Frimpong qualified for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea; making him the first athlete from Ghana to represent skeleton in the Winter Olympics. There, he was aided by Lauri Bausch, a coach for the U.S. team who occasionally helped coach athletes from smaller nations on the side. Bausch has been a coach for the U.S. team since 2015, after a hamstring injury ended her own six-year skeleton career.

“Akwasi has a charm about him that is attention-getting which aided him in sharing his unique upbringing and efforts to represent his birth country and continent,” says Bausch. “He is positive and hardworking, and does much to stay connected especially to the youth of Ghana and is not just focused on himself.”

Frimpong ended up being an unexpected hit among the fans. He didn’t really expect to receive as much attention as he did. “I was honored to touch the hearts of millions of people all over the world to dare to dream and to go after their wildest dreams,” he says.

After returning to Utah, where he currently lives with his family, Frimpong set out to accomplish his next goal: start the Ghana Bobsled and Skeleton Federation and bring Ghanaian athletes to the Winter Olympics.

Frimpong has hosted multiple skeleton clinics in Ghana to introduce and inspire Ghanaian youth. He hopes they’ll be inspired to try the sport. Meanwhile, he held a combine event in Salt Lake City to recruit potential skeleton athletes with Ghanaian roots.

Recently, the developing Federation appointed former U.S. skeleton coach, Zach Lund, as the head performance director. Lund competed for 11 years on the U.S. skeleton team before switching over to coaching for the last eight.

Lund decided to join Ghana after philosophical differences with the U.S. program and is excited for the burgeoning Ghanaian Federation. “Akwasi came to me with his vision for the Ghana program. His vision was inspiring and felt like something that was bigger than just skeleton,” Lund says.

Lund hopes to turn Ghana into a sliding sports “powerhouse,” which is not out of the realm of possibility. Not only was Lund an Olympian, he also coached U.S. athletes to three Olympic medals. Moreover, he intends to do more than just go fast.

Lund and Frimpong both want to make history, and that’s what he likes most about Akwasi. “Instead of trying to inspire a continent, we are trying to bring diversity into a sport and Olympic movement that lacks.” There are not nearly enough African nations involved in the Winter Olympics, he says.

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Zach Lund and Akwasi Frimpong are standing at the starting line preparing for a run. Frimpong was competing in his first race of the season on November 7, 2018 in Whistler, Canada. AP Photo/Akwasi Frimpong

That’s what special about the Olympics, bringing nations together, big and small, on one stage to compete. “It’s not about the nation winning medals,” Lund said in an interview with GhanaWeb, a website all about Ghana. “It’s about being with people who are there for the right reasons. The Olympics are about bringing people together.”

The number of countries that have competed in the Winter Olympics have steadily been on the rise. According to olympic.org., the 1972 Olympics in Sapporo, Japan,  had 35 competing countries, growing to 92 now in the most recent 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games. These figures however, don’t compete with the Summer Olympics. During the 1972 Summer Games in Munich, 121 countries competed, which increased to 207 during the Rio Olympics in 2016.

Lund hopes the creation of the Ghanaian Bobsled and Skeleton Federation will be the beginning of other African countries competing. “It’s about the small nations being on the same playing field with the larger nations, competing against them,” says Lund. “That’s what I love about the Olympics.”

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Local rock climbers are inspired by Alex Honnold’s mental toughness

Story and photos by McKENZIE NICOL

Ascending 3,000 feet of sheer granite is no easy task. Most would deem it impossible.

Rock climber Alex Honnold proved the impossible to be possible as he ascended El Capitan in Yosemite National Park without safety ropes on June 3, 2017. His triumph, depicted in a 2018 documentary, is impacting the sport of rock climbing by pushing the limit of where risk lies.

Climbing up the Free Rider route in just under four hours, Honnold has achieved one of the greatest physical tasks conceived in the human mind.

Fellow climber Tommy Caldwell was the first to free climb (a style of climbing with ropes only for safety, not aid) the Dawn Wall of El Capitan in 2015. In a National Geographic story published in October 2018, he called Honnold’s ascent the “moon landing” of free soloing.

Honnold’s “moon landing” is quite possibly the most incredible physical performance of humankind​, and the physical achievement is just the beginning of the victory. Honnold holds an astounding ability to control fear and remain determined and clear headed.

National Geographic quoted Honnold as saying, “[Fear is] only hindering my performance, so I just set it aside and leave it be.”

Honnold’s ascension is helping local climbers to see an obvious representation of what it means to really compartmentalize fear and overcome difficulty and stress through grit and mental toughness.

In the heart of Salt Lake City, the climbing team at the University of Utah is training to compete in the collegiate national climbing tournament April 27 and 28, 2019. Ben Roa is in his fourth year at the U and is president of the team. He expressed his amazement and admiration of what Honnold has achieved.

“It is the single most impressive athletic feat that any human has ever done,” Roa said. “The fact that Honnold has done it is astounding.”

He explained that climbing is 80 percent mental and 20 percent physical. It is all in the head. “He compartmentalizes fear and fatigue and it is really impressive,” Roa said.

Roa said he enjoys the constant challenges that rock climbing presents mentally and physically. He said he has several “projects” – or routes – that he is working on in Big Cottonwood Canyon that require “great mental effort.”

“The cooler stuff is always the harder stuff,” Roa said. “It might be a little dangerous because people can be like, ‘Oh wow, I can do it.’” He described that setting goals and knowing your limits is an important part of getting better.

“The goals never stop. That’s one of my favorite things,” Roa said.

Joel Zerr, another climber and employee at Momentum Climbing Gym in Salt Lake City, gave some insight on Honnold’s accomplishment. He said, “[The] level that he’s pushing is on the edge of the risk. Mistakes can happen. It’s a different thing and it’s really impressive.”

Zerr recognizes the immense psychological control that is required to rock climb and why many people, rock climber or not, are drawn to what Honnold has done.

“People can relate to him because you can obviously see the anomaly of what he did. It draws attention and it inspires,” Zerr said.

Zerr explained that he does not feel that pushing those boundaries of risk is completely necessary. It is possible to push oneself in any aspect, not just rock climbing, and it does not need to have such dire consequences. He said he challenges himself mentally and physically, but not in the same way Honnold does.

Managing stress, pressure, and fear are factors of Zerr’s daily climbing life. Whether in the gym or on a wall outside, it feels “real” to be up there and trying to work out the best way to maneuver to the top. Mental sharpness and control are essential.

Isaac Baker, a rock climber from Bountiful, Utah, suggested the idea that rock climbing brings a new edge to life.

“Being on the wall not only gives you a new perspective of life, but a new way of living. Climbing is not a hobby, it’s a lifestyle,” he said.

Baker has been rock climbing for seven years and can see the effects of needing to be mentally sharp on the wall in his everyday life. He said he loves challenges and tackling any sort of project with the mindset of pushing himself to his limits.

Rock climbers all around can add their story to that of Baker’s in saying that the sport has changed their life. Following Honnold’s journey and studying his mental game shows us that his is no exception.

Being the first to free solo a beast like El Capitan, Alex Honnold has set the stage for pushing the limits of what humans can do physically and mentally.

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Goalkeeping done right, from TIP Goalkeeping

Story and gallery by JOSH LUDLOW

The first Saturday of October at 8 a.m. was cold. According to the car’s outdoor temperature gauge it was in the high 40s. Freedom Hills Park in Centerville, Utah, sits just under the east mountain side. With rain falling the night before, the grass was spongy and wet. Feet were soaked within a few steps on the soggy surface. At this time, and place, goalkeepers from across the Salt Lake Valley gathered to hone their skills.

Brian Simmons, the head of TIP (technique, insight, power) Goalkeeping, is the man running the training program. As the young high school goalkeepers arrive, subtle moans are heard about the hour of day, temperatures, and lack of sleep. Simmons quickly gets them into action to start the morning training session with a few warm-up routines.

Soon enough the goalkeepers are diving on the ground, in the air, and even forward attacking the ball. Simmons directs the efforts of these young players in a positive direction. He provides needed correction but also positive reinforcement when a player correctly executes a save.

The session runs about an hour with much of the allotted time at an intensive work rate. At the end, footprints and cut marks are visible from where the goalkeepers worked as the grass is torn to shreds. Final comments are made by Simmons and then everyone departs till next week’s session.

Simmons discussed TIP and what the inspiration was behind the idea by saying that, “There was a lot of demand for goalkeeper training where I am based in Davis County, Utah. I was asked over and over about what training I could offer, so after holding training sessions sporadically I decided to formalize TIP so that I could be a consistent resource for the goalkeeping community as well as the average coach.”

TIP Goalkeeping provides young goalkeepers the opportunity to train at a higher level than a typical club team practice would provide. The high intensity, demand for excellence, and positive feedback make these trainings invaluable for the goalkeepers.

“TIP was officially founded in 2017, though TIP trainers have been active for about a decade,” Simmons said.

Another TIP trainer, Cole Palmer, also said, “I am not sure of the exact time I started with TIP but I believe the first camp that Brian and I did was in the summer of 2017.”

As a relatively new company in a heavily concentrated soccer playing community, TIP found its niche. The opportunity to work with parents and athletes away from the club teams has given the young goalkeepers formalized training. Whereas at the club levels, goalkeepers are treated as just another field player.

Craig Waldron, a parent of one of the athletes, described the training TIP provides. “I think TIP is different from other trainings because of how personal they make it for each keeper. They also have a very good trainer to athlete ratio so there is a lot of personal help with each of the athletes. And trainers that truly want to make better goalkeepers.”

The success of TIP, when broken down, is about the values it represents. Simmons said, “Our aim is to help keepers learn and develop the skills necessary to become great goalkeepers and people…. So many goalkeeping principles can be applied to life, and at the end of the day, we care very much that our athletes develop as people in all facets of life.” TIP goes further than teaching athletes how to properly be a goalkeeper. It instills values that these young players will one day look back on and realize they were already developing by attending these training sessions.

Ideally, the training sessions are there to assist in bringing a sense of accomplishment and improvement. Specific instruction is delivered from Simmons and Palmer on how to execute a desired movement, perform the technique correctly, and how to improve what the athlete already knows.

Palmer said, “I think the biggest difference that I have seen is getting kids genuinely excited about training. I have never seen kids show up to training and say they also have a game or even two after but at TIP I see that all the time. It seems like they show up excited and ready to go.”

TIP is also giving back to the community. Once a year, TIP hosts a training session for free to anyone. All that is asked from those who attend is a donation, which will be given to someone or a place in need. This past summer of 2018 TIP was able to raise “$330 to support Eumer, a boy living in Ethiopia,” Simmons said. The next year TIP is hoping to raise even more money to benefit someone or something.

TIP brings goalkeeping to a completely different level. With multiple trainers, athletes, and philosophies involved, these young players are receiving the skills necessary to enhance their playing abilities and life. Simmons said it best: “I want TIP to be THE authority on goalkeeping in the state of Utah.”

 

University of Utah eSports program welcomes NCAA involvement

Story and photos by ALEX HALE

SALT LAKE CITY—Despite nation-wide hesitation about whether or not the NCAA should get involved in eSports, members of the University of Utah’s eSports program believe the organization’s involvement would bring much-needed resources and legitimacy to the world of competitive collegiate video gaming.

In December 2017, the NCAA announced that it would be seriously considering if it has a place in college eSports. Since then, many eSports athletes and faculty have been quick to express their distaste of the NCAA’s potential involvement. However, those at the University of Utah think differently. A.J. Dimick, the Director of Operations of eSports at the U, and Kenny Green, head coach for the U’s League of Legends team, both come from traditional sports backgrounds. They said their experiences with the NCAA were nothing but a good thing for them. They passionately believe that collegiate eSports only stands to benefit from the NCAA.

Dimick and Green have both observed that one of the largest sources of hesitation toward the NCAA’s involvement stems from restrictions that would be placed on monetized streaming. Currently, college gamers are allowed to earn money by independently streaming their gameplay to online audiences. Under the NCAA’s jurisdiction, the students would still be allowed to stream, but monetization would be prohibited.

However, the NCAA would make partial and full scholarships for eSports athletes more accessible than ever. In most cases, the money awarded from a scholarship would be greater than the amount earned from monetized streaming. There are only a small handful of streamers who earn enough income that they would be losing money if they demonetized and instead accepted a scholarship. Dimick called it “ludicrous” that people would push away the NCAA to protect streaming income that is “barely even enough to pay for a movie ticket every month.” He continued, “I want the most amount of resources for students who are passionate about eSports, and monetized streaming isn’t the way to do that.”

The U’s varsity eSports program already prohibits its students from monetizing their independent streams. In fact, the U’s team members already adhere to many NCAA-inspired regulations. Official team practices may not exceed 20 hours per week, they must be enrolled as full-time students, maintain a 2.5 GPA, and progress 20% of their degree within each season, and they are eligible for 4 seasons of play within 5 years of first enrolling. If the NCAA stepped in, “We wouldn’t feel stifled since we already follow a lot of the same rules” said one of the U’s eSports athletes. “Our program would just get better.”

Dimick and Green want to create a path to the greatest academic and professional success for their student athletes. The U is already doing what it can. For example, all competition winnings are collected by the university and put toward eSports scholarships. With the NCAA on their side, Green knows they can do more. “I want scholarship money for simply being involved, not just for winning. The NCAA can make that happen.”

Greater support from the NCAA wouldn’t just equal more scholarships, explained Green. It would mean access to better facilities, coaching, compensation, and greater research into proper nutrition and exercise. Even though athletes wouldn’t be allowed to market themselves with monetized streams, the NCAA would pour a huge amount of resources into promoting and fostering each athlete’s brand presence. If athletes want to go pro after college, the NCAA paves a helps them gain the recognition they need to break onto the scene.

It would also give the athletes a means to identify with their school that they’ve never had before. “For so long, gamers have been considered ‘other,’” said Dimick. “They deserve to feel like they’re part of the greater community.” If the NCAA officially welcomed eSports onto the scene of college athletics, Dimick believes the athletes’ passion and energy would be a favor to the university. Green agreed, saying “If the NCAA gives us the formal recognition we think we deserve, our sense of school pride and camaraderie will shoot through the roof. When we win, the entire campus cheers us on. When we lose, they’re helping us get back on our feet.”

Dimick believes eSports can finally find its place with the NCAA’s help. Currently, without a common umbrella like the NCAA to fall under, eSports programs are placed wherever they can fit. The U’s program resides in the academic department, specifically under Entertainment Arts and Engineering. Though some people from both ends of the traditional sports VS eSports spectrum would consider it a “cultural violation,” Dimick thinks eSports belongs in the athletics department alongside traditional sports. He observed that their needs and functions are similar, and the “nerds and jocks don’t mix mindset” is fading. “Why create an entirely new, identical program when we would already fit so perfectly within the athletic department?” he asked.

Dimick said, “If you’re trying to put college eSports on the biggest stage it can possibly be on and have resources devoted to eSports and the students that are interested in this, then you certainly want to explore NCAA membership and participation in college eSports.” For the faculty and students at the U, the NCAA and eSports are a natural fit. Green and Dimick encourage those who are skeptical to learn more about what NCAA membership, involvement, and regulation would really mean and to carefully weigh the benefits against the drawbacks.

15 seconds to fame: How Instagram turned the snowboard world on its head

Story and Photos by BRADY McCARTHY

Facing a potential avalanche of unhappy snowboarders and the snowboarding industry as a whole, production companies and even ski resorts are in the midst of a change of seismic proportions on how they promote snowboarding.

In the past, snowboard media has been consumed through magazine subscriptions, “ski porn” movie releases by production crews every fall and online videos posted to websites such as Snowboarder.com.

But Instagram turned that all upside down five years ago in a shift that leveled the slopes. The social-media platform effectively democratized the self-promotion and exposure of the elite and those clawing their way to the top of the sport.

In June 2013 the social-media platform started to allow users to post 15-second videos, and with that Instagram changed from being a photo-sharing platform to primarily video sharing. Users were then able to receive instant gratification — and responses — by opening up the app and simply scrolling down through 15-second videos.

Soon these 15-second videos became one of the main ways to view snowboard media, allowing snowboarders to share and view snowboarding media without spending as much time — or money — consuming them.

“It allows up-and-coming snowboarders to get more exposure and make a name for themselves,” Gnu Snowboards Mid Atlantic rider, Cameron Dunmyer, said about the introduction of videos to instagram.

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Cameron Dunmyer by a street spot at sunset, February 2017. Photo by Brady McCarthy

Independent snowboard production companies began to decline a decade ago. Today, they are almost obsolete. Ian Macy, the content creator and video content specialist for Woodward Copper and Terrain park Marketing Coordinator for Seven Springs, Pa., said production companies aren’t receiving the same backing from snowboard companies to “buy-in” their riders to the movie.

“The amount of full-production snowboard video crews in the last five years has dropped significantly,” Macy said.

In the past, companies’ underwriting money would not only pay for companies’ rider’s participation, but the entire production, from film crews and their equipment to travel and other expenses. Instagram and other social-media platforms have eroded much of that spending as companies realize they get more reach — and their dollar goes farther — with brand videos and other content distributed over social media.

Instead, snowboard companies increasingly turn to contract filmmakers, who are now paid to produce online content and even full-team movies, because they then have complete control over the project rather than underwrite independent film crews.

In an attempt to stay relevant, video crew Absinthe Films has leveraged social media in promoting their new project. Last year Absinthe had to resort to crowdfunding after struggling to keep people interested and in turn receive enough money to produce their project, Turbo Dojo.

This year they have been incorporating social media and live streams of filming sessions at famous spots with big-name riders, allowing the consumer to get a behind the scenes look at the filming process. This method of presenting media has also proved to keep potential consumers excited about the upcoming project.

Independent film companies aren’t the only ones taking advantage of social media as a marketing strategy. The No. 1 park on the East Coast, according to Transworld Snowboarding’s 2017 Park Poll, Seven Springs has decided to switch their media marketing to only involve social media for the 2017-2018 season.

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The Seven Springs sign illuminated by Christmas lights. Photo courtesy of Tanner Scott.

Historically, Seven Springs released a web series on Snowboarder.com, “The Seven Deadly Edits.”  Macy explained people aren’t watching those videos the way they did just five years ago. He also said that single Instagram clips of one trick are getting more views, likes and comments than a full three-minute video that required more effort, meeting internal demand for more viewers.

“If it’s the right thing and it’s presented a certain way, it could blow that typical three minute edit out of the water,” Macy said.

Macy said it’s hard to predict the future of snowboarding media, but there isn’t consensus when it comes to consumers’ tastes. He said a mix of the old and new ways of presenting snowboarding will work the best.

Instead of filming for a video and incorporating social media into the process, some productions are being released incrementally as videos throughout the year. DC Transistors and Forest Bailey’s FSBS are two examples of video projects being released throughout the year highlighting specific trips that would usually constitute a full movie.

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“DC Transistors” crew member Jordan Morse at the Rail Gardens. Photo by Brady McCarthy

It’s also forced filming to start earlier in the year for riders in the DC crew.  Brady Lem, a DC Transistors crew member, said he wasn’t excited at first about the early street mission experience in “DC Transistors Episode 1: The Early Hunt.”

“Kinda was bummed on going on a street trip this early at first, but now looking back on it I’m pretty excited that we did it,” Lem said.

Think Thank, a film production company known for its creative take on snowboarding videos, has taken a similar approach but with a different layout. The company’s project this year, “Falling Leaf,” has followed riders throughout their travels. Think Thank now releases “Leafs” at certain points throughout the season.

What makes their project different from others is that it’s presented in a mini-magazine format on the internet. The “Leafs” include photos, videos and text allowing the best of all forms of media that can be quickly accessed by viewers without giving up the interactive experience of a magazine or movie.

“I mean the short of it is that riders are more in control of content now because movies are less viable,” said Justin “Stan” Leville, host of the popular snowboarding news show, “Last Resort With Stan.”

 

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Outdoor Retailer show says bye-bye to Utah, but does the Beehive State care?

Annual shows have new home but its departure from Utah may have less impact than you think. 

Story by LUKE FORTUNE

A tourist staple and economic driver for 20 years, the renowned Outdoor Retailer shows, which brought the outdoor industry’s blue-chip businesses and top athletes to the Wasatch Front, no longer calls Utah home.  

In 2017, the shows’ organizers, citing opposition to reducing Bears Ears National Monument and other land management policies by federal and state officials, announced their decision to leave Utah for Colorado.

“We chose Denver because of Colorado’s long-term commitment to protecting and nurturing public lands,” Marisa Nicholson, director of the Outdoor Retailer trade show, said.

While the departure has left a black mark on the Beehive State outdoor recreation industry and image, how much of a hole it will leave in Utah’s economy is unclear. Nate Furman, a University of Utah professor in the parks, recreation and tourism department, said it’s more of a lost opportunity that will affect Salt Lake City in the short term.

“In the long term, I don’t think that it will have major effects, as the gravity of national politics will drown out any effects of whether or not the show is held on the western margin of the Rocky Mountains or the eastern margin,” Furman said.

The Outdoor Retailer shows have drawn tens of thousands of tourists and athletes from around the world who come for the latest in outdoor equipment and to sample the state’s recreational offerings.

The trade shows pulled out of Utah in protest after the Trump administration and Utah politicians chose to shrink two controversial national monuments. Along with the proposed reduction of Bears Ears by 85 percent, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is slated to be cut in half. As a proponent of public lands, the trade shows’ leadership took a stand in protest, as did many companies that attend the convention.

Outdoor industry stalwarts, including California-based retailers Patagonia and The North Face, met with Utah Gov. Gary Herbert after President Trump’s the decision to reduce Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The companies ultimately decided that moving the show from its longtime home of Utah would be the best choice for their industry as a whole. 

“I say enough is enough,” Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia’s founder, said in a statement. “If Governor Herbert doesn’t need us, we can find a more welcoming home. Governor Herbert should direct his Attorney General to halt their plans to sue and support the historic Bears Ears National Monument.”

Over the past 20 years, Outdoor Retailer has brought 40,000 visitors annually to Utah during their twice-yearly shows, which run for three days at a time. Additionally, the shows have brought $45 million in consumer spending.

While these numbers may seem large, the loss hardly puts a dent into Utah’s roughly $13 billion tourism economy. The outdoor recreation industry brings in $12.3 billion in consumer spending a year as well as $737 million in state and local tax revenue, according to the Outdoor Industry Association. While Utah as a whole will most likely see little impact, local businesses may see mixed outcomes, depending on their size.

Smaller companies may have a harder time as they relied on the increased sales the shows brought, but shouldn’t be hit too hard, said Sunn Kim, the retail store manager at local Utah company Backcountry.com.

With annual revenue of $634.54 million, Backcountry.com makes most of its sales online, allowing it to weather the shows’ departure with little impact on its bottom line. The company has a small retail shop that may be affected by the departure.

I believe the departure of [Outdoor Retailer] will have a more immediate impact on Utah’s outdoor industry and economy,” Kim said. “I believe that smaller businesses focused on tourism will suffer, but this impact will only be temporary.” 

All Rhoads lead to the Olympics

Story and photos by JOSEPH PARKER

It’s February in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Twenty-three-year-old ski jumper Will Rhoads sits on top of the hill, waiting for the right moment to begin his descent down the ramp. The cold, crisp breeze brushes his face as he prepares himself for the moment he has dreamed about since he first began ski jumping. After a decade of training and competition, Rhoads has finally earned his opportunity to compete for a spot on the podium at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Rhoads’ exposure to the Olympics began at a young age when his family moved from Concord, New Hampshire, to Park City, Utah. Rhoads’ father, David, had accepted a job with the Olympic Organizing Committee for the 2002 Salt Lake City games. Unbeknownst to Rhoads at the time, this cross-country move was the first step toward his professional career as a ski jumper.

“I kind of got into the sport by accident,” Rhoads said in a phone interview from Norway while preparing for the final competition of the ski jumping season. “My friend, Colton Kissell, started doing it. I was 5 or 6 years old at the time and he was, like, ‘Hey, I tried this thing called ski jumping, it’s super sweet, you’ve got to try it,’ and we were best friends at the time, so I was like, ‘OK.’”

After his first exposure to the sport, Rhoads was hooked. He began building his skill set at the Utah Olympic Park, located just a short drive from his home in Park City. The Olympic Park had been renovated for the 2002 Olympic Games and provided Rhoads an upper hand to improve his skills on state-of-the-art facilities.

Rhoads continued to progress in the sport throughout his youth, but his career really began to take off as he entered his teenage years. “Growing up, I was always pretty competitive,” Rhoads said. “It wasn’t until I was 12 or so that I realized [ski jumping] was something I could be good at, and that I wanted to be a World Cup-level, or potentially, Olympian ski jumper.”

At the age of 12, Rhoads began working on his professional ski jumping career with guidance from his coach and long-time role model, Clint Jones. “Growing up, [Clint] was the guy I was watching on TV,” Rhoads said. “I wanted to emulate as much of him as I could.”

Throughout his 17-year professional career, Jones was a member of seven World Championship teams and represented the United States during the 2002 and 2006 Winter Olympics. After retiring from competition, Jones began coaching the club team in Park City and would later serve as Rhoads’ head coach on the national ski jumping team. Currently Jones serves as team director for USA Nordic.

“Ski jumping is a pretty unique thing,” Jones said during a phone interview. “We’re looking for guys that are tall and skinny. You also need to have a pretty high strength-to-weight ratio, and most importantly is coordination and athleticism.” Rhoads stands 6-feet-3-inches tall and competes at a weight of 140 pounds, making him a perfect candidate for a sport where genetics play a crucial role in an athlete’s ability.

“Will is a pretty thin guy, but at the same time he’s powerful in the legs and has broad shoulders, which definitely helps him fly through the air,” said Jones. With guidance from his coach, Rhoads began making a name for himself throughout the United States ski jumping community.

After being named to the national ski jumping team, Rhoads was truly able to fly. He has won the Men’s Large Hill U.S. National Championship consecutively since 2015. In addition to his national titles, he has placed top-10 in numerous FIS Cups (International Ski Federation). Rhoads was also a member of the ski jumping team that won the 2015 Junior World Championship in Falun, Sweden. Aside from his official titles and medals, Rhoads became a member of the “200 Club” after jumping 201 meters in Slovenia at the Planica World Cup finals.

However, pursuing a professional athletic career is not always glory and fame; it comes with a few caveats.

During his adolescent years, Rhoads was unable to participate in other sports because so much of his time was dedicated to ski jumping. The time he spent in foreign countries, either for training or competition, kept him away from family and friends for extended periods. Despite the hardships that accompanied his sport, Rhoads has always kept his chin up and mind focused on the next challenge.

After 11 years of hard work, training and competition, Rhoads received the news he had long anticipated. While awaiting a Skype call from the U.S. Olympic Committee, Rhoads received a notification on his phone. He had been tagged in a post by the U.S. Ski Team, congratulating him on being officially named to the Olympic Team.

“To be honest, it was a little anti-climactic to learn I had made the Olympic team via Instagram, but I’ll take it. To see that I had actually made the team was really cool,” he said.

Christine Rhoads, the mother of Will Rhoads, was beyond ecstatic about her son’s Olympic status. “We always knew he could make it,” she said. “He worked so hard to get [to the Olympics] … as a mother there’s nothing more rewarding than seeing your child accomplish their dream.”

Unfortunately, Rhoads did not do as well as he hoped on the Olympic stage. During a qualifying jump, the winds shifted, which caused him to lose valuable distance. As a result, Rhoads placed 51st out of a total 56 competitors in the men’s individual large hill competition. Regardless of his performance, Rhoads takes pride knowing he was finally able to fulfil his long-time dream of competing at the Olympics in the sport to which he had dedicated so much of his life.

As the old saying goes, “All good things must come to an end.” Rhoads is approaching the age where he may need to leave professional jumping behind in order to pursue a life-long career.

Rhoads said he desires to continue working in an athletic environment. He has considered the idea of becoming a physical therapist or even a doctor, specializing in sports medicine. His former coach, Clint Jones, hopes Rhoads will return to the U.S. Nordic Team as a coach himself, helping to inspire and train the next generation of Olympic ski jumpers.

 

 

 

Girls club soccer and the advantages learnt in and throughout the game

By TIFFANY HUYETTE

SALT LAKE CITY-  There are those people in life that are special, something about them is intriguing and admirable, and you can tell that whatever their craft, they pour their heart and soul into it. One of these people is Bruce Cuppett, originally from Pipestone, Minnesota, Cuppett is a retired military veteran, soccer coach, and an important person in the development of Utah Youth Soccer Association.

“My dad worked for American Oil Company so about every two years we would move,” says Cuppett.  “I went to three elementaries, two junior highs, and three high schools.” It wasn’t always easy. “I was a trouble maker when I was in school,” Cuppett says, adding that he “walking the thin line, on the good side and the bad side,” always trying to balance the fun. Occasionally, he’d “get slapped, and then get back in line,” he says.

Cuppett finished high school in Detroit in 1964, where he began junior college and building muscle cars. He then enlisted in the army in 1966, and was on active duty until 1972. Cuppett finished college, with a degree in business management, and rejoined the military until 1999 where he retired after thirty years.

“I never played soccer when I was growing up, when I went into the service is when I learned to play soccer,” Cuppett says. After moving to Utah in 1991, Cuppett’s son Andrew tried every sport but fell in love with soccer and started playing for the American Youth Soccer Organization. Andrew had a great first year coach said Cuppett, but his second-year coach was a “flake.” Concerned, the team parents nominated Cuppett as the new coach because he was the parent who knew the most about soccer. He was unlicensed for a short time, but he soon began moving through his first licensure on his way to becoming a better coach and to understanding the youth game.

So how is it he began coaching girls? Cuppett got a call from Sparta founder Ben Vandenhazel asking him to come and coach a girls’ team. “I don’t know anything about girls” Cuppett said, but he decided to take on the challenge. Years later, Cuppett is still coaching girls soccer, “It’s a much different game, to me it’s a game that I appreciate more than the boys game. I think the girls game is about working, about possessing the ball, looking for a seem in the defense and attacking the goal. Where boys typically are win the ball, and go to the goal all the time.” He described it as a prettier game, but harder to coach. “What I tell the older girls when I work with them was ‘you wanna get into college using your brains, because if you get hurt and you’re on academic scholarship your scholarship its still there’. It doesn’t matter if you’re on crutches or whatever, if you get there going the other way, and something happens you’re usually going to lose your scholarship.”

It can be hard to persevere in the sport. “Because you’re going to lose at some point,” says Anthony Frost, Marketer at UYSA. “You’re going to have the hard days at some point, you’re going to have hard times and ya gotta keep going.”

The key is that “ya gotta love it and ya gotta work it,” says Cuppett. “I believe athletes, when they train properly become very good in society because they are good at hitting bench marks along the way, which helps develop their skills to have in life.” An athlete needs to dedicate their own time to the game, he says.

Cuppett tries to teach his players to problem-solve and to be resilient. “If you’re in the real world and ya got a great job, and ya get a new boss, and the new boss is an absolute idiot, are ya gonna throw everything away? Or are ya gonna try figure out how to work with this person and how to continue. Because you’re on a good path right now and you don’t want to go back out and start all over again.”

Friend and Administrative Director of Coaching at UYSA, Holly Gundred, commented “as a team learning how to deal with heartbreak, you learn to take that and what do you do? You apply it and move on.”

Sports, much like life, is like a roller coaster, says Cuppett. “I think sports teaches you that every day it’s a win lose situation. How well you did in practice? How well you did in a match, ya know? how well did ya feel going into it?” If he can teach his players to be introspective, that’s when Cuppett will feel like he’s done his job.

 

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If your interested in reading the reflections on my story click here .

 

Reflection blog on girls club soccer and the advantages learnt in and throughout the game

In the beginning of pitching ideas for my enterprise story, I knew I wanted my story to be centered around athletics because that is where much of my knowledge and passion are found. I knew it would be easier to invest myself in a topic that I knew a lot about or had the motivation to learn more about. I decided to write about UYSA because growing up in Utah Youth Soccer was extremely beneficial in teaching me life skills and in teaching me how to deal with adversity.

Upon gathering information for my story from previous coaches and the Utah Youth Soccer website, I was able to get in touch with individuals from the admin side of UYSA, and eventually able to go to the new UYSA headquarters and interview a few different people. Upon meeting different people, I reconnected with a previous soccer trainer from my youth days who had both coached girls and worked on the admin side of UYSA.

I started my interviews asking each person what their specific job title was and how they had got the position they now obtained. I then asked about previous jobs and positions, and about their families. Then I went further into depth on the benefits of sports for adolescence. After the interviews I reviewed all my notes and was able to create a story. The best source for my story ended up being the man who had trained my team and other girls teams, and who also worked admin for UYSA.

The struggles I faced were mostly within getting to interview the people I was hoping to interview and within keeping my story within the word limit required. I had to find a way to both include the details I wanted and the details I needed, while also having to distinguish between what I could keep in my story and what I needed to take out. All while trying to tell a story well, intrigue readers, and fit within the word limit.

I was able to choose the focus of my story when I listened over my interviews and had to decide what would be interesting to readers of all types, and what wouldn’t be interesting. I also really wanted to tell a good story, so I had to find a point of view where I could story tell, while still being able to keep inline with my story topic. The writing process was lengthy, and the story ended up extensively exceeding the word limit. I then had to delete any parts that were not necessary, or that did not point back to the story pitch. It was a process of writing a story that would be both interesting and informative to readers, while at the same time telling a story well. I learned that I am much more of a story writer than a news writer but that it is beneficial to add brevity to whatever I’m writing.

Looking back, I am very surprised with where my story ended up going. It ended up being a feature story about a specific person and an organization. I learned much about UYSA through my interview with Bruce but also about Bruce as a person. I was able to attain life wisdom as well as coaching wisdom for young athletes and the parents of athletes.

Link to my story here and my bio here.

Historian says rock climbing culture has lost social aspect

story by ELLEN LEWIS

“Climbers’ tales cast light on themselves and the central themes of their time, nature, technology, ect,” said an environmental historian during his guest lecture March 5 at the University of Utah Marriot Library.

“Climbing Alone: The Estranging Trend in Outdoor Sports” focused on how climbing, once a social sport, has evolved to be individualized through changes in technology and society’s attitudes toward nature.

“I would have never expected climbing to have such a interesting history,” said Courtney Gaylord. She attended the lecture because of her affiliation with Mountain Hardware and their sponsorship of professional climbers.  “It went from being ‘us’ to ‘me’, it says a lot about climbers, but also about sports in general.”

The problem today is we only focus on the story of heroes said Joseph E. Taylor, a published history professor at Simon Fraser University. Beginning his presentation with a film clip of the 1963 Everest Expedition, Taylor said the sport of climbing has not always been about individuals celebrating risk and pushing boundaries.

Up until the 1960s climbing was a collection of friends out to have fun, environmental clubs with a social focus including dinner parties and often times dating.

“What they did in nature was deeply related to what they did outside,” Taylor said. These “middle class white playgrounds” focused on relationships rather than the individual approach climbing takes today.

Starting in the 1960s, as standards of living were raised and technology increased, the social way of climbing began to die out. Climbers began to separate themselves as heroes Taylor said, and became less collective.

Athletes had their own cars and equipment so the clubs became less necessary. Climbers aimed to separate themselves as heroes. The sport became more of a lifestyle than an activity.

“The ‘us’ had been lost in climbing culture,” Taylor said. Climbers went as far as breaking laws and living in Yosemite Park so they could climb full time.

Taylor’s lecture was based on his most recent book “Pilgrims of the Vertical: Yosemite Rock Climbers and Nature at Risk,” which won the National Outdoor Book Award for History.

Tall and clean cut, Taylor is a climber himself, and the historian in him drew him to find deeper themes within the climbing culture.

“[Utah] is the epicenter of the climbing and industry,” said Taylor. The lecture was hosted by the American West Center and Utah Humanities Council. Matt Bass, director of the American West Center brought Taylor here because of the local interest Utahans have in climbing.

 

BCS PLAYOFF RUMORS PIQUING INTEREST OF UTAH FAITHFUL

by Andrew S. Jones

SALT LAKE CITY – The 2012 season is a mere four months away and marks the second for Utah as members of the PAC-12 conference. With a respectable inaugurating season last fall punching a record of 8-5, the Utes wrapped up spring football at the annual Red vs. White game last Saturday at Rice-Eccles stadium, and are now shifting into high gear for the upcoming season in pursuit of a national championship. While still getting comfortable being in a conference that holds a fast track to big ticket post season games, the Utes may have to prepare for a potential playoff as well.

Division I college football has never had tournament style post-season play to determine a champion. The current system is known as the Bowl Championship Series, which was formed in 1998 by Division I’s six biggest conferences.

According to the BCS official website, the purpose of the current system is to simply place the top two ranked teams in the nation to play against each other and deem the winner of this game as the national champion.

While the theory is simple and straightforward, there has been much controversy over the fairness, legitimacy, and even accuracy of this relatively subjective system to determine ranks.

One major point of the controversial ranking system is that it gives significant advantage to the six largest conferences in the nation that originally formed, and make up the current body of, the BCS. These conference champions have automatic “bids” to one of the five BCS bowl games which line up conference champion winners from two of the six conferences. There are only two “at large” spots for other high ranking teams, which traditionally are most often picked from one of the “automatic qualifying” conferences again. This in turn snubs other “non-automatic qualifying” conferences from playing for a championship or one of the other at-large games regardless of how their teams perform throughout the season.

Utah has had its run-ins with the lopsided favor of the current system, but has also been on the forefront of significant systematic changes. As members of the Mountain West conference, Utah did not automatically qualify for postseason BCS bowl games. However, in 2004, the Utes earned the title as the original ‘BCS Buster’ after an undefeated season under the direction of then Head Coach Urban Myer and Quarterback Alex Smith. Their record allowed a high enough rank to force the BCS to allow Utah to play in the Fiesta Bowl vs. Pittsburgh, the Big East Conference Champions. Utah won 35-7, to cap a perfect 13-0 season but somehow they still finished as #4 in the nation according to the official BCS rankings.

The Utes again made history as the first team to repeat as a ‘BCS Buster’ during the 2008 season when they played SEC powerhouse Alabama. Utah won 31-17, topping off another 13-0 season – the only team in the country that year to do so. Final BCS rankings placed Utah at #2.

In spite of these two undefeated seasons, the BCS never even considered the Utes to play for a national title and the problem continued with teams such as Boise State and TCU in subsequent years. July 1st, 2012 marked a significant step for the University of Utah as they were officially invited to participate as members of the PAC-12 conference and instantly allowing them greater access to title hopes.

However, an official press release dated February 22, 2012 from the BCS stated that the six conference commissioners and the athletic director from Notre Dame have commenced meetings in Dallas Texas, “In an effort to grow college football’s great popularity and success.” The statement went on to indicate that the BCS is evaluating possible changes to the post-season format of play to potentially be implemented sometime after next season when TV contracts are set for renegotiations.

Many sports analysts throughout the country speculate that the BCS is responding to added pressure from fans and business partners after the Alabama-LSU title game received the third lowest ratings for a national championship in the 14-year history of the BCS.

“There’s no leader in the clubhouse on this,” said BCS coordinator Bill Hancock while talking to the Associated Press Thursday night about potential post-season alternatives. “The most important question is, ‘Is there a need to make a significant change, and what are the reasons why a significant change is important?’ If there’s a need to do it, then it should be done.”

The recent meetings and comments made by BCS officials have many implications of a potential playoff system replacing the old system. While some may consider the PAC-12 move to be diminished in hindsight, many others of the Utah faithful are all the more excited.

“Being a part of the PAC 12 increases exposure for both the academics of our university and helps with recruiting better athletes,” said former Utah offensive lineman Makai Aalona, who was part of the Utes original BCS Buster Fiesta Bowl team. “It’s something I never thought would happen when I played … but we now have a seat at the big boys table.”

Even with the added boost of a BCS powerhouse conference, Aalona still salivates at the thought of a potential playoff of any kind to more absolutely determine a national champion.

“Some people say that if we had a playoff system in place in 2004 or even in 2008 when Utah won the Sugar Bowl, that we would have made a case for winning a national championship. It’s obviously all speculation because those teams never had a chance to prove it, but a playoff system would be a step closer to solidifying that claim.”

TV personality and sports analyst Dave Fox emphasizes that financial impacts alone are enough to keep fans of Division I football excited including Utah.

“The financial implications will be huge! Networks will bid fortunes to televise the football playoffs. The down side is, many will argue that certain deserving teams are still being left out. But that happens in any championship,” he said.

Fox also pointed out the extreme difference the Utes specifically will have in season TV contracts alone.

“As a member of the Mountain West, the Utes made about 1.5 million per year on TV rights; in the PAC-12 they stand to make nearly 30-million. So…1.5 vs. 30 mil, do you think it was a good idea to join the PAC-12,” he said.

Whichever way the finances fall, many of the Utah faithful are just excited to see some quality football, both during and especially after season. Along with the ecstasy of excitement, many still think back in a melancholy way still imagining what could have been.

“Can you imagine Alex Smith getting a shot against Matt Leinart’s USC team? Or the 2008 Utes getting a shot at Tebow in Florida? These things should be considered,” said University of Utah junior Andrew Fox. “How would RGIII have done against a real defense like Bama or LSU? A playoff would let us see all of this… [but] regardless of what happens, the Utes are in the best situation they can be in.”

So while we wait for the cards to be dealt, we can continue to drink in the tantalizing possibility of a playoff or just enjoy being in a fast track conference with title game access. Either case will only fuel the burning desire of the program – keep making some more room in that trophy case.

U. of U. showcases Olympic memories

By Rebekah-Anne Gebler

SALT LAKE CITY— The Utah Ski Archives opened the Olympic Experience Exhibition at the J. Willard Marriott Library on Wednesday, marking the 10th anniversary of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games and Paralympics.

This exhibit displays thousands of photos, documents, videos, books and magazine articles relating to games.

The Special Collections Department, which is the official repository for all 2002 Olympic records, gathered its sources from anyone who was involved in the games from the University community.

“It is through individuals that we are able to archive historic collections for future generations,” said Roy Webb, multimedia archivist at the Marriott Library.

This free exhibit allows the public to witness new viewpoints of the games, seeing it through the lens of spectators, volunteers and visitors.

Hosting the exhibit at the library adds to the influence the U. of U. had during the Olympics. Some of the current on-campus housing served as the Olympic Village—the housing for the athletes—while the Rice-Eccles Stadium hosted the opening and closing ceremonies.

The exhibit will run through Feb. 29. To send in your photos from the 2002 Olympics or to discover more, please visit http://tinyurl.com/Oly-Exp-ML.