SMS T2: More than just a team

I’m sure everyone thinks their team is the best. But I can assure you, they are wrong. The SMS T2 team is not only filled with amazing skiers, but my teammates’ incredible skiing skills are only surpassed in their quality of person. I can honestly say I admire each and everyone of them, and I truly believe that every single one of us brings a different set of skills to the metaphorical (and often literal) table. Our tightness as an otherwise hodgepodge group of individuals, I think, is best explained by viewing us not as a team but as a family.  May I present to you, the SMS T2 Family Tree.

At the top of the food chain we have Grandpa Pat (otherwise known as coach).  A new addition to the team this year, we couldn’t do what we do without his guidance.  Filled with wisdom, Pat as done an exceptional job figuring out what each of us need to work on, and never seems to tire from telling us the same technique cues over and over and over again (similar to other Grandpas who sometimes forget that they’ve told the same story for 15 minutes straight, but each time they repeat the story it is with a renewed enthusiasm and sense of urgency).  Further, Grandpa Pat has the perfect balance of general optimism with an underlying current of rampant cynicism.  And, finally, he has that one shirt that even though it is old, has holes, and has the wrong team name on the front, he just won’t give it up.  But we love him, and wouldn’t have any other grandpa.  

Pat in his new Tank–he doesn’t wear it all the time, but man it looks good.

Next we have Momma Flowers and Papa Newell.  Both Erika and Andy do a great job of building us up while putting a check on some of our (my) crazier ideas.  Just like a classic mom, Erika makes neat check lists of everything to be accomplished for the day,  encourages us all to eat a more balanced and healthy diet, and focuses on the details that many of us overlook but are really what make the team (family) click.  She also makes an amazing batch of chocolate chip cookies.  The perfect balance to Momma Flowers, Andy is the American dad.  He plays guitar.  He has a motorcycle.  He built his own cabin.  And he can grill.  Further, he has the perfect touch to gently guide the rest of us without being overbearing.  And no one ever wants to disappoint him.  Together Erika and Andy keep the rest of us in order, and make us presentable to the rest of the skiing world.  Without them we’d be lost, orphaned children without anyone to drive the suburban.

Momma Flowers being the perfect role model at the Fast and Female that Jessie just put together for the Vermont area girls at Stratton.  Side note, Jessie did an AMAZING job putting together the whole Fast and Female, and also inspiring 40 (!) young girls to stay active and in sports.


Like Erika, Andy is a great teacher,  He doesn’t mind slowing down and helping out aspiring skiers, as he does here at a pre-strength agility session with the Devo kids at SMS.

Cool Aunt Sophie and Favorite Cousin Jessie are the members of the extended family that are the only reason any of us would show up to family reunions.  Sophie exudes cool sophistication, and effortlessly transitions from best friend to authority figure.  I go to Sophie with any and every problem I have, with complete confidence that she won’t tell anyone.  I shamelessly copy her wardrobe and never get bored sitting in silence watching Orange is the New Black with her.  All that said, she is a great leader and steps up in any situation that requires it.  Like everybody’s favorite cousin, Jessie can always be counted on for a good time.  It sometimes seems as if Jessie’s body cannot contain her bubbly energy, and she is always up for an adventure (as long as she gets her coffee in the morning).  Also, she sky-dives.  She is the person you want to be–adventurous and brave, but also caring and understanding.  You call her up for late night phone calls, with complete assurance that she will sit there and laugh at your bad jokes even though you’re keeping her awake.  She is the best!

Sophie, Erika, and Jessie are all of our favorite leaders, but clearly know how to have a good time.  Just because you’re the leaders doesn’t mean you can’t take a jumping picture in Alaska.  I’m just glad they came back to Vermont! 

Much Better and Much Older Brother Simi and Somewhat Older and Much Smarter Sister Annie Pokorny are the older siblings that make the rest of us young kids look bad.  Simi was born with a six pack, a full head of hair and a five o’clock shadow and hasn’t looked back since.  In elementary school, all the teachers referred to his younger siblings as “Simi’s younger brother.”  The common refrain from mom and dad is, “Why can’t you just be more like Simi?”  He’s cultured, he’s traveled, he’s smart…He is the most interesting man alive.  Annie is the sibling that laments helping you with your math homework, but secretly gets a thrill from it.  You follow her and her friends around at a sleepover-because you want to be just like them-but don’t realize they are playing hide and seek so you’ll keep hiding.  But she does your hair, let’s you play dress up in her clothes, and loves when people refer to you as her “mini me.”  Simi and Annie are a lot to live up to, but you wouldn’t have any other siblings but them.

Simi is a rockstar, and looks good even with the open mouthed smile (while the rest of us look silly, he looks genuinely happy, candid, and posed all at once) 

Like Simi, Annie manages to look completely natural even when she is supposed to be posing.  She rocks the vintage Patagonia, completely internalizes a moral true North, and makes me want to be a better person.

Younger Brother Ben and Estranged Sister Annie Hart are the runts of the family.  They are the “fed-exes” from Cheaper by the Dozen.  The older kids “lie” and tell Ben his fish went to fish heaven, but only because they don’t want to see him crushed.  They tell him to go play in the road, but would step in front of a car for him without a second thought.  He is their little brother, and no one messes with him.  He also plays guitar for everybody as we are finishing up dinner, and it is soothing, and relaxing and the perfect post dinner treat.  And then there is me, the estranged sister.  I was with the team during it’s first fall, but then I left.  I came back briefly for a summer, but then left again.  But now I’m back, and don’t plan on leaving any time soon.  But to make up for my absence, I’ve gone overboard with baking, coffee-making, song downloading, and general happiness-inducing activities.

Ben and I have been sticking together since joining the family.  Here we are at Nationals, he’s eating ribs and I’m not that into it, but I did appreciate that he was concerned about my post race fueling.

And then there is post-grad Ian, the relative at the family reunion that no one really knows how he is related (or if he is) but he’s always been there and will continue to be a part of the family.  He is everyone’s second cousin twice removed on their mother’s side, but he is what keeps thing interesting at family parties.  He is filled with good stories, and is always there for a hug.

Post-Grad Ian Torchia is always smiling, even when he is riding a mountain bike without clip-less pedals, keeping up with the rest of the pack that has road bikes AND clipless pedals.  And he never complained.

And that’s the SMS T2 family.  We are a little cooky and some might even call us dysfunctional at times.  But we are a family, and that’s the best part.  As Alan from the Hangover said, we all thought of ourselves as one-(wo)man wolf packs, but then thought…”Wait a second, could it be? And now we know for sure,” we just addedEIGHT skiers to our wolf pack.  Nine of us wolves, running around Vermont together, looking for unforgettable adventures and medals.  So this afternoon, I make a toast to the best family an aspiring skier could ask for, Thanks guys–you really are the best.

And we love having additions to the family!  We just had the Craftsbury girls for a little Vermont Staycation, and they helped us out with the Fast and Female.  




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