I Like to Party

Fact: It's fun to have fun. I like to have fun, but I mean who doesn't? It's one of the reasons why I do biathlon, because it is a ton of fun. I get to meet awesome people, travel to some awesome places, and ski and shoot a gun, at the same time. Don't get me wrong, it has it's ups and downs but all in all it's a lot of fun. And the past couple weeks while traveling west have been no exception.

It's been a little while since my last post due to the fact that I have been traveling without a laptop. But thanks to the Rotary Club of Canmore I am able to update you now on one of the computers they graciously donated for public use at the Canmore Public Library. After my last camp in Canmore I briefly went back to Lake Placid for two days before flying to Minnesota to hang out for a few days. It was great to be able to hang out in the Midwest for a few days and catch up with friends. I also was able to attend the Birkie Fundraising event at Borton Volvo while in the Twin Cities. The American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation has some big plans for the future and this was one of many events to help raise money for Phase II of the ABSF's Capital Campaign. It's a real honor to be able to represent such a great organization that helps the entire Midwest Nordic ski community in a mighty way. To learn more about the Phase II campaign, click here.

After my short break in Minnesota it was off to the Wild Wild West for the West Yellowstone Ski Festival. We got delayed due to a snowstorm that roared across the great plains and into Minnesota, but the set back allowed me to spend some time with friends in Duluth. We had some pretty heated Dominoes matches Friday evening that resulted in emotional breakdowns and put strain on what were believed to be strong friendships. Thankfully, friendships prevailed and spirits were not totally crushed.

The next morning we boarded coach buses and headed west. My time in West Yellowstone was brief but had a ton of fun coaching for the Duluth East Crew. The group was comprised of skiers from Duluth East, Mesabi East, Ely, Two Harbors, Brainerd, Bemidji, and St. Cloud Tech. Each morning I had free which allowed me to get in my own workout, whether that just was a longer ski or a biathlon specific workout at the range. In the afternoon I coached the athletes to V1 perfection. Unfortunately not everyone had perfect V1 technique at the end of the camp, but we did see some significant improvement from many skiers. It’s always awesome to work with younger skiers and see them progress. The camp was great and I am thankful I got to travel with the Duluth Crew as a coach again this year. It's always a ton of fun to travel to West Yellowstone with thousands of other skiers to take over the town for a week. Awesome job to all the athletes and huge thanks to all the parents who helped make the trip possible.

So to close out this post I am going to tell of how I tarnished my image among the of Duluth East Ski Team. During the first team meeting of the camp we were to introduce ourselves as coaches to the athletes. Bonnie Fuller-Kask, the trip leader, asked for us to say our name, where we grew up, went to college, what we are currently doing and another little thing about ourselves. In the movie Hot Rod, there is a scene where Rod and his crew are introducing themselves to Denise, the newest member of their crew. Rod starts by saying he likes to party, only to be followed by everyone else also saying they like to party (see scene here). It's a stupid scene from a rather meaningless movie, but I find it amusing. In college, my roommates and I would always jokingly quote this movie. Also, as the coaches gathered right before the meeting I was telling them about a CBC This-is-That episode titled "Winter Wasteland". It's a satirical broadcast covering the darkside of cross country skiing (Listen here). So I was jokingly saying how I was a professional skier that likes to party. To add to this, one of the other coaches brought some old retro 1980’s ski one piece suits and convinced Jake and I to wear them for the introductions. Due to Jake and I being relatively comfortable in our own skin, we put on the suits and walked down the hall for the introductions.

So when it was my turn to introduce myself I started by saying I was from Appleton, WI, skied for CSS, currently was doing biathlon, and when it came to a little thing about me I draw a total blank and could only think of ‘and I, like to party’, so that’s what I said. At first there was not much of a response, but when I turned around and walked out there were a few hoots and hollers from some kids and I immediately had the thought, ‘they didn’t get the joke. I shouldn’t have said that.’ Right after, Jake rounded the corner and shouted to the room, “I know for a fact Paul doesn’t party!” to add to the joke but it was too late. From that point on many people on the trip saw me as a guy wearing a 1980’s ski onesie with a poor excuse of a mustache that liked to party.

For those that know me, it was pretty funny because they know that I am not the party type. I mean, I like to have fun, but I am not a huge fan of blurry visioned late night ragers that have you waking up with regret. I prefer to be in bed by 10 so that I can get up in the morning after a good night's rest and get in a quality workout. On one of the following days Jake had some problem and I just said, "Sorry Jake, I brought you down to my level." The truth was when I said I like to party, I brought Jake down with me. For the rest of the week anytime Jake or I encountered any trouble we joked that it was due to my professed hedonistic lifestyle as a lover of partying. It was an uphill battle as we tried to show that we were more than just a bunch of post college ski bums who like to party.

At the end of the week the athletes presented the coaches with gifts as a thank you for their time. When they got to me the athlete presenting gifts said, “And during the coaches introductions one of the coaches said they like to party. So we got a shot glass for Paul.” At this point, all I could do was laugh as the athletes presented me with a Montana shot glass. Two of the other coaches tried to explain that it was just a joke from a movie and that I don't party, at all. By this point in the camp I had realized I had made the mistake of making a joke about me liking to party, but knew that I am not what the statement may have implied. I asked if any of the other coaches wanted the shot glass because I had only taken one shot in my entire life, and have no ambition to start taking shots. Everyone agreed that I had to keep it, even if it meant I never used it for it’s intended use.

On Friday afternoon we said our good-byes to everyone as they packed up the coach buses to head back to Minnesota. We thanked the trip leaders for having us along for the trip and making it all possible. As we were walking away, Dave Kask said to us, “If you guys want to come again next year, we’d love to have you.” We thanked Dave and said we would definitely let him know if it worked out in our schedule. As Jake and I walked away we smiled thankful we had not fallen so far as to not get invited back next year.

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© 2017 by Paul Schommer