Being invited to The Winter International Childrens Games was exciting. Going to Switzerland to compete in snowboarding at any time would be an honor,but at 14 with my best friend Spim (Kim) and my Dad as our coach is was almost too much to believe. We would leave Friday the 13th of February (yes, it was a little nerve racking getting onto a plane that day) and be in Switzerland for almost two weeks. I knew that the competition was the reason for going, but I didn't know that it wouldn't be the reason for me wanting to go back.
We left a week early for the competition so we could stay with Linus and his Family. Linus was a foreign exchange student that had ridden with our team a year prior, he and his family lived in Switzerland and invited us to go to Grindelwald (a well-known and huge ski resort)for a day to ride and stay with them in Basel for a week. We arrived in Switzerland an teh first thing we had to understand was the train system. Unlike the small UTA public transportation system in Utah, these trains are on time and you better be as well. Running through train stations, getting on and off wrong trains, and being stuck in the snow for two hours, we arrived in Grindelwald to see Linus and his Family. Spim and I were dead tired so slowly we dropped out of the adults conversation and into sleep.
I will never forget waking up the next morning, looking out my window, and seeing the Eiger. Looks rather daunting when the biggest peaks you have seen have been in Utah. We ate, got packed, and got geared up to go shred (all while Spim and I are still in disbelief of what is going on). After riding some of the best snow of my life at Grindelwald we went to Basel, one of the bigger cities in Switzerland and where Linus lives. This week was great because we got to see a true European city, and how they live. Old buildings with Renaissance and Gothic architecture, the Basel Zoo, and just the culture overall was aweing. Parting the family that I had gained such friendship with was rather sad, but I knew that the serious part of the trip was coming.
The Games were held in Vevey-Montreux, Switzerland. Food, transportation, and rooms were all covered by the competition (-Spim and I felt like kings(my Dad laughed at us)). We were the Snowboarders for the entire U.S. and we took that with great honor as did the ski team that was with us. The Mayor of Salt Lake County had even made the trip to see us. We competed in Slalom and GS, with me finishing in 6th place in both, but what we were really excited for was Boarder cross. But when Sunday came, we woke up to three new feet of snow and the competition cancelled. I was devastated, but my Dad made it right. He took us to the resort that everyone wants to ride in their life: Verbier. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life and I will never forget it.
It wasn't the competition that made the trip worth it, it was the people I met, the friends I made, the amazing things I saw, and the overall experience knowing that you are riding for an entire country and that you can do your best and be proud. That is what this trip was about to me.
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