4/12/2020 0 Comments
Building a Tie
When my SUS teammates made their first appearance in Laramie, I had no idea what it meant for the team or myself. As an incoming freshman, I had only been to a few team events when we had the barbeque to meet our new team members. Many of my older teammates had been talking with the new skiers before this, but I only had a vague idea of what SUS was and about the exchange that would be taking place. I had no idea that we would spend the next year forming deep friendships and learning lessons from each other about things far more meaningful than just ski technique. That first night, things began as you would expect. There were introductions and then lots of hand gesturing small talk as we all started to get to know each other and attempted to overcome language barriers. It was friendly, but everyone seemed hesitant, not quite sure how to act as a team when we knew so little about each other. I don’t know who it was that pulled out the jump rope after dinner, but somehow that changed things. Within a few minutes, the whole team was standing on the pavement outside of our coaches’ house. With a teammate from China on one side of the rope and a teammate from the U.S. on the other, we began to jump. In that moment, all of the uncertainty was gone. It seems appropriate looking back. That jump rope was so symbolic of what was to come, the way that SUS and UW would become tied together. The way we are all still connected, even though many of our teammates are now at home in China. Writing about my teammates from China has reminded me of the many special, small moments that helped create this connection. I think back to our very first days on snow, when the Chinese athletes were still learning the art of skiing, and I am still wowed by their willingness to try something so unknown. I can taste the feasts of Chinese and American food that we ate together, often not knowing exactly what we were eating, but enjoying it all the same. I wonder if they miss running on dirt, surrounded by trees, instead of in circles on a track, something that amazed them all the first time we did it. I remember explaining every food at the Thanksgiving table to Murong and I hear the Chinese songs that were sung at the Thanksgiving talent show, when we all spent hours eating, laughing, and performing in Dick and Ev’s living room. I remember hearing about everyone’s families back in China, how my teammates missed them, but also how they would miss us when they returned. When I think back on all of these things, it is with gratitude for the way that the SUS-UW connection shaped my first year on the team. I hope that the bond that was formed in the short year that we had to train and learn together stays with each of us. I know that all of us, whether we are in Laramie or Shanghai, are better because of it.
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Madison Tinker and others of the University of Wyoming Ski Team
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