Coach Perspective: Chris O

Norway Trip Reflections – Chris Osgood – Guest coach

[We were so lucky to have Chris & Mary Heller Osgood, Putney Ski Club, as coaches on the Norway trip!!]

This year, thirty five years after we first skied in the Birkebeiner, we had the privilege to return with the Ford Sayre Group.  We knew when we signed up for a trip with Dennis and Scottie and Tim and Margaret as team leaders that we would have a wonderful trip.  That is complete and total understatement.  The detail of planning, the diversity of activities, the care, attention, and respect modeled within the group, and the quality of the overall experience were simply extraordinary.  When Jørgen, Chelsea, and Chris joined the group in Lillehammer, the dimensions of the experience increased even more.

When our bus deposited us in the start field in Rena on the morning of this year’s Birkebeiner, my memories from standing here before came trickling back. The sky was overcast that day as well, the instructions on the loudspeaker spoken in Norwegian still didn’t make much sense, and the tracks narrowed just as quickly from many to just eight when you entered the forest.

Chris and Tim going through Sjusjøen

We first skied in the Norwegian Birkebeiner in 1982.  Our son Brayton, was not quite a year old and with lots of help from friends and family we completed our first Birkebiener experience.  We still have delightful memories from that trip and that day: the predawn ride in a school bus to Rena, navigating the start procedures, the endless skiers in the tracks and the warmth of the crowd as we headed toward Lillehammer.

But what impressed me just as much about the trip was getting to know this extraordinary group of young skiers.  They are respectful, curious, excited, funny, dedicated, and helpful.  They are purposeful young athletes and fine skiers.  A favorite part of the day was often the reflections that each skier gave at the end of the team meeting in the evening.  There was always a variety in their reflections.  I appreciated the humor, the honesty, and the attention to different aspects of the day they noticed.  I always learned something.  On the Thursday before the Birkie, one skier simply said “Tired. Bed!”.  That was followed verbatim by the next 5 skiers.  I couldn’t help but smile.

My thanks to everyone on the trip.  It was a wonderful experience and we know how lucky we are to have been part of it.  We won’t wait another 35 years to go back, that’s for sure.

With deep appreciation,

Chris Osgood

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