The #OmniGames: On Preparing for the Unknown, Columbia Sportswear Turbodown Reveal, and the Start of the Games

(From left) Adam, David, Aleya, Heidi and I at
the airport in Salt Lake City. (H. Henry)
It’s been 48 hours since I boarded the plane home from Utah and I can’t believe it’s over. I’d staved off the post trip blues from the Tetons and Yellowstone by hopping a flight to Salt Lake City for the #OmniGames 36 hours after arriving home. Goodbyes to Heather and Jon turned into see-you-laters, and though I was running on fumes, I powered through work, CrossFit, unpacking, laundry, repacking and more. But now the post trip blues are hitting me like a ton of bricks.

How does one begin to digest the outcomes of two back-to-back once-in-a-lifetime adventures? Well, if you’re me, the best means of digestion is through writing. And writing is part of why I ended up in Utah with nearly 40 other amazing people (and that’s just the Columbia Sporstwear #OmniTen crew) experiencing a handful of firsts, conquering debilitating fears, learning, growing, playing, and testing some of the most innovative gear to hit the market (and some that hasn’t). It's also our last opportunity to score points in the #OmniGames, but more on that later.

How Do You Prepare for the Unknown? By Rolling With It.

#OmniTen Season 1 (minus Steve) on our first night in Park City. (H. Henry)
Anyone who knows me knows I don’t thrive in environments of uncertainty, but the only way to improve ourselves is to practice what struggle with, right? Going into the #OmniGames, uncertainty ran rampant; it was a perfect exercise in going with the flow.

All we knew was the duration of our trip (January 8-11th), where we’d be staying (the incredibly luxurious Hyatt Escala Lodge), and that we’d need to prepare to check a bag of gear we’d be testing on the way home. We surmised skiing was involved, given sizing information had been requested, and that we’d be competing for something pretty spectacular. Competing in what, though, and with whom, was still a complete mystery.

Some of us were reunited early in Salt Lake as we shuttled to Park City for the remainder of the week. Most of us from #OmniTen Season 1 were ecstatic to learn that Los Angeles-based BeCore was running the show behind the scenes again, and we were greeted with familiar BeCore faces in the #OmniTen hub, the base of operations at the lodge. After retrieving our bags of gear for testing, we picked up our room keys and learned who we’d be bunking with. I couldn't have been happier to learn that Heather, Heidi and Katie were my roommates. Though I’d seen Heather a few days earlier, I felt lucky to spend extra time with some of the girls from Season 1.

The first evening in the #OmniTen hub felt like a giant family reunion despite the fact that I’d only met half of the attendees in person prior to our arrival. After seeing my roommates, reuniting with Casey, Rebecca, and Gina made it feel I was coming home. If there’s anything Columbia’s team excels in, outside of producing some incredible outdoor gear and apparel, it’s community building. That’s pretty special, and it’s only possible if the community builders and the community believe in what the community is built around. How connected the #Omniten were and how close we are now is a testament to the passion and pride the Columbia team brings to the table.

Few additional details were revealed by Columbia’s Daniel Green and Tori Lesikar, other than the fact that we’d need to dress in ski-type apparel for the next day’s activities and when our shuttle was slated to leave. I had trouble calming down that night, both due to the excitement that comes with seeing friends you don’t see often and having no clue about what I was getting into.

Columbia's Turbodown Revealed

Four of the #OmniTen Season 1 girls modeling the new Turbodown jackets.
No additional details about the first day’s events were revealed during breakfast, but we did get a sneak peek at a technology the rest of the world won’t get to experience until September 2014 – Turbodown.

Turbodown combines synthetic (Omni-heat Thermal Insulation) materials and down to create a warmer, lighter jacket for cold weather adventures. Independent third party testing revealed Columbia’s Turbodown is 8-20% warmer than competing jackets, including The North Face Thermoball and Patagonia Nano Puff.

The Platinum version of the Turbodown jacket is also priced lower than competing jackets ($180 vs. $199-219), making it more accessible to the general public. The jacket will also be available in Gold and Diamond versions, which include different levels of insulation. The full line will include 14 separate styles, including vests. And two days of outdoor competition in blistering wind and snow in Utah was the perfect testing ground.

Let the #OmniGames Begin!

All of us at the ranch waiting to hear what we were in for!
After the half hour shuttle ride to Garff Ranch with All Seasons Adventures, we all settled around picnic tables, eager to learn more about the #OmniGames. Columbia’s Daniel Green revealed we’d be competing in ten varied events with point values that would test our physical and mental capabilities, outdoor know-how, and ability to work as a team.

We found out we’d be competing in pairs – one summer #OmniTen season member paired with one winter #OmniTen season member – to even out the skill sets. When the grand prize – a trip to Jordan – was announced, the excitement in the room nearly blew the roof off the building. Joshua Riggins of #OmniTen Season 4, picked my name out of the summer season hat and right away, I knew we’d be a good team.

Given there's so much to say about the what Columbia did for us, the gear and the experience, I'm splitting the story into four separate posts - today's introductory post, #OmniGames Day One, #OmniGames Day Two, and Gear of the #OmniGames. Tomorrow, I'll share details on the first five events and how my teammate and I did. You'll also see all sorts of updates from my fellow #OmniGames participants, including my teammate, so there'll be plenty of chances to get differing perspectives on the trip!

Based on what you've heard so far, what do you think about Turbodown? Do you have a down jacket you'd be willing to give up to try it? And any guesses as to what the events were, if you don't already know?


Heather Balogh said…
We're so cute in our turbo down :)
Steve Weiss said…
I enjoy not being forgotten in posts/photos like these. Appreciate it, and super bummed I missed it all!
Katie said…
Are you kidding, Steve?! Of course we didn't forget you! I'm bummed you weren't there, but still so glad to see you for part of the trip and that you're safe :)