The #OmniGames: Day One Events, a Handful of Firsts, and the FIS World Cup Freestyle Moguls Competition

We saw these as soon as we pulled into the parking lot on the first day!
Yesterday's first look at the #OmniGames included our arrival in Utah, what we learned (and didn't learn) prior to the first day of competition, and a bit about a new jacket technology from Columbia. I learned we'd be competing in teams of two with a chance to win a ten day trip to Jordan in April.

The first day of competition involved five events/stations with four teams rotating through each station. Some tests involved skills that can impact whether you survive in the backcountry or not – skills we all know are important given our passions for playing outside - while others involved. Columbia did a great job making sure the events weren't biased toward a specific skill set, physical fitness, or a particular season.

The First Five #OmniGames Events

All cozy in our shelter after time was called in event three.
Our first test, called Snowmobile Drive-By, was a blast. Teams rode out to a field on snowmobiles to find bows, arrows and targets nestled in a snowbank. We each got four shots, the first of which was a practice, to gain as many points as we could. The closer to the bullseye we got, the higher our combined score. Though Columbia didn't reveal any of our scores relative to other teams, I was excited to hit the target on all three shots that counted. I’d also never been on a snowmobile before and was excited my teammate trusted me to drive us back to the ranch.

Our second test, "Hot Chocolate Run," was to build a fire using a magnesium fire starter, a knife, and newspaper, then to boil water for hot cocoa. I have a magnesium block in my emergency outdoor kit, but I’d never used it and boy did I wish I had. With the snow coming down hard and the wind blowing, I tried to shield our barbecue while Joshua shaved magnesium from the strip and tried to get the little pile of shavings to spark. We succeeded in burning a few holes through our newspaper pile, but when the half hour time cap expired, we didn’t have a fire and knew that would hurt us in the competition. It was also a wake-up call; you can bet I’ll be practicing starting a fire using that method on my next trip!

The third test, "Our House," involved a survival scenario. Our judge told us we had to prepare to spend a night outside in zero-degree temperatures with 30mph winds. We had to build a shelter using two aspen logs, four pieces of rope and a tarp that would stand up to the weather and keep us safe through the night. We laid one of the aspen logs horizontally between two trees, draped the tarp over it, used some of the tarp to protect us from the ground, tied the tarp almost completely shut, then built snow barriers around the entire shelter. We both barely fit when we crawled in and tied it shut, and it survived a “wind test” from our judge. Mission accomplished!

The fifth event involved dogsledding and paying attention!
For our fourth test was dubbed "Needle in an Avalanche." For the handful of folks with backcountry skiing experience, this challenge was a piece of cake. For Joshua and me, however, it was completely new. I wore a beacon on Mount Rainier in 2010 with RMI Expeditions, but it was in "transmit" mode the entire time and we didn't practice searching with it in "receive" mode. After a quick tutorial, each team of two went out separately and had five minutes to find our “victim” – a boot with a transmitting beacon lodged inside. It took us one minute and 22 seconds, which we were told was “respectable.” Considering it was both of our first times using a beacon, I was pretty happy to hear that our avalanche victim likely would have lived.

Prior to the final event, the wind picked up, including gusts almost strong enough to knock me over. I didn't care; we got to ride on a dogsled, which is (was) on my bucket list. Our fifth test, "Dog Days of Winter" was to get to know our mushers, their dogs, and to pay attention to what they said in advance of a five-question pop quiz. While Josh and I were nestled in the sled cruising around the ranch, our musher, Steve, shared some Iditarod history, stories about his dogs, mushing terminology and more. After the quiz, Josh and I were confident we’d gotten at least four of the questions right. The last was the name of the only five-time Iditarod winner. Josh remembered his first name and I remembered his last name. Teamwork at its finest!

The Results and a Trip to the World Cup Freestyle Moguls Competition

Watching the best freestyle moguls athletes in the world at Deer Valley!
Results were revealed later that night and I was disappointed, but not surprised, that Joshua and I were toward the bottom third of the 15 teams. We knew we’d have ground to make up, but were confident in our ability to climb the leaderboard on the second day.

Though the dogsledding and snowmobiling were highlights, our trip to Deer Valley to watch the FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup moguls competition was pretty special. Whether you participate in a sport or not, there’s nothing quite like seeing a group of athletes at the top of their game. Many of the skiers we saw will represent their countries at the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, including Hannah Kearny. Talk about an inspiring way to end the first day of competition.

Want to know how Joshua and I finished? Stay tuned for the third part of my trip report, coming tomorrow! Are you surprised by any of the events Columbia came up with to test us, or the way the competition was structured? How do you think you would’ve done with the tests? Any you’d have exceled in or had trouble with?


Heather Balogh said…
I think we made the identical shelter :)
Heidi Henry said…
That darn fire! Grrrr. I definitely need to work on my outdoor survival skills =/