He had been up sine 5:30, testing wax combinations, powders, and base preps. He had pre skied the course frontward and back. He knew where he wanted race support giving splits. He knew the start lists, our positions in line, and who we were each racing.
I'm pretty sure he had a good idea of where the cards would fall, but he had also taught us well. We were the players, and we would fight given any hand.
As he passed me my skis, there was an undeniable lack of urgent emergency, a stark contrast to what I felt.
"Don't you understand?" I would question silently in my own mind. "This, right now, this, this defines me. This is not a time for smiles. It's not a time for fun."
His cheeks were bright red, flushed from being out in the cold. He passed me my skis and said:
"Have fun Steve."
"Are you kidding me? Fun? You must have no idea, no idea at all."
I heard those same three words before every race we did as a team. I heard them every time. I listened every time. I heard, I listened, but I didn't understand. I didn't even really try to understand.
Eight years later I think I might.
Thank you Gord.