Opinion by Tad – Pipelines vs Roads

We believe that a dedication to sport is a good thing for human development, and we believe that human development continues when racers are adults, and compete at elite levels. While we’re proud of the work we’ve done with elite athletes – Kris, Noah, and Tad, in particular – we’re even more proud of who those guys have become since retiring as racers.

Tad is the new head coach and program director for the Durango Nordic Ski Club, having taken over from his twin brother Evan this season. Tad has strong ideas about the role of sport in development, and the right reasons for being involved at any level of sport. Here’s what he’s got to say on the subject:

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There seems to be a lot of controversy going around about a pipeline. Some are against it because it’s going to ruin a pristine landscape and there is no need for it; saying only the greedy corporate types are in favor of it. And these cooperate types contend that it’s not only a positive, but necessary. Ah what to do?

Oil? What? I was talking about the development of cross-country skiers…

A pipeline is dark and insular, rushing its contents to an endpoint, unexposed to the outside world. It’s hard to escape and it’s even harder to get back in. There is light at the end the tunnel, gold and shimmering, the size of a medal in the distance. You believe it’s there, but can you reach it?

The pipeline metaphor is restrictive and unrealistic. I prefer to view skier development like a road of the yellow brick variety.

Why?

Because, because, because, because, BECAUSE… of all of the wonderful things it does! The road might meander, and there might be detours and roadside attractions. You know this road is going to take you somewhere, and it’s up to you to decide what is waiting at the end.

While on this road I hope you gain a brain. The ability to think for yourself, to make your own decisions, and to learn all of the life lessons that training and racing can teach you.

Your journey on the road will provide a heart; a strong one from enjoying one of the hardest sports in the world. This strong heart will give you the ability to go places. Training in the snow, ice, sleet, hail, and bitter cold rain of Vermont; you will gain the heart to work, to meet the challenge. Combine this with a brain you will be able to work hard wisely.

And there is courage. Rawr! The courage to try, the courage to risk, the courage to win, the courage to lose, and the courage to look in the mirror and see what you can do to improve. These qualities are rare and not freely given; they need to be earned.

The road made of yellow bricks isn’t perfect. I hear monkeys like to fly around it harassing people down below. Hey that’s life everywhere, the trick is to ignore the shrieking. While taking this road I would recommend good walking shoes. Ruby is in season and looks nice against a yellow background. If you need to, just click those heals together and go home. The home where you developed as a skier. The home that views you as a person. The home that will always be there for you. There is no place like it.

As you progress along there is a chance you will come to two divergent roads. It is your choice which one you want to travel, and the hope is that skiing has made all the difference. But that’s a whole different literary reference.

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