So, Gabe had the best week ever last week. I have to mention this because everything fell into place so perfectly and we planned none of it.
Essentially, Gabe met his idol, freeski sensation Tom Wallisch. Here is a pic of Tom:
It all started at the Jazz-Heat game on Monday night. I got some tickets from my work including tickets for the Jazz Sports Club. Basically, the Sports Club is a fancy place way up at the top of the arena where they have this huge buffet and you can go pork out right before the game. They even have beer!! For FREE!!! Gabe and I got to the Sports Club room about 20 minutes before the start of the game and I began hitting the buffet hard--cheese, crackers, salad, some lobster appetizer with a coconut glaze that tasted like heaven on a stick, and then I moved on to the Big Boy Meal--prime rib, rice, corn, biscuit, cheesecake and more beer.
Gabe had none of it.
He said, "See ya!" and made his way down to our seats. When I got there, we proceeded to watch an enjoyable game and the Jazz actually didn't suck too much. About three minutes before the halftime, this kid came out with some of the Jazz helpers and he used the slingshot thingy to shoot t-shirts into the crowd. When he was done, the announcer said, "That was Tom Wallisch, who will be at the Dew Tour at Snowbasin on Sunday. Give Tom a hand!" Gabe immediately looked at me and screamed (not making this up), "There's Tom!!!! We have to meet him!!! We have to find him!!!! TOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Let me back up a little bit here. Tom is the man responsible for turning Gabe back onto skiing. Gabe was all into snowboarding for the past three years, even getting new stuff last year, and trying his best to improve every year at this sport. He then saw this video of Tom on YouTube and it basically changed his life:
(Try to watch the full two minute clip--the guy is amazing).
Anyway, here we are, at halftime at the Jazz game and Tom has now disappeared into the crowd. Gabe is now hyper-ventilating and peppering me with questions like this: Where is he Phil? Where did he go? How can we find him? I have to meet him, how can we make this happen? Who do we need to talk to at this arena to find Tom? What should we do????
Um, get a beer?
We decided to go down to the other Sports Club room and get more FREE snacks and then wander up to our concourse again and, by lucky chance and the Beard of Zeus, perhaps, maybe, run into Tom Wallisch. This was a super long shot because the arena was almost full.
On our way up to our concourse, right as we go to the top of the stairs, we turned the corner and all of a sudden, Gabe gave out a squeal. I mean, a high pitched, girly girl squeal that is reserved only for those who follow Miley Cyrus and then suddenly run into Miley Cyrus. What do you know? There was TOM FREAKIN' WALLISCH! I'm pretty sure Gabe laid a sweet dookie right into his Jazz playoff boxers because he grabbed my hand and said, "Oh geez Phil, what should I do?" I told Gabe that we would just hang back for a sec, since Tom had three other people around him and we didn't want to be rude. One of the people next to Tom however, saw us hovering and poked him and said, "Tom, I think you have a fan."
Tom turned around and the guy could not have been cooler. He stuck out his hand and introduced himself, talked to Gabe, asked him what tricks he was working on and then let us take a photo of he and Gabe (the photo came out blurry and crappy unfortunately). The funniest part was watching Gabe. He stood like someone had stuck him with a pin--hands down to his sides, grinning and laughing weirdly, all nerved up and looking like this guy:
It was really funny and pretty cute.
FAST FORWARD TO THIS PAST SUNDAY:
Riley picked up Gabe and I and we headed to Snowbasin to watch Tom Wallisch in the Winter Dew Tour Slopestyle Freeski Finals. As we positioned ourselves right to the side of the run, watching the other competitors come down, Gabe noticed an older guy standing next to the run with a t-shirt that had Tom Wallisch's signature on it. Of course, being the kind of kid Gabe is, that is, not shy at all, he went up and introduced himself to...TOM WALLISCH'S DAD!! This guy was also super cool. He asked Gabe all kinds of questions. And, when I walked down to where they were standing, Gabe turned to me with a look that was the epitome of Mr. Smug Guy, pointed to this older dude and said, "Hey, Tom Wallisch's dad right here." Classic.
Here is Tom's winning run. If you pause it on the very final jump, we are standing just to the left of the run, there are only about ten of us there. The rest of the crowd was at the end of the run and on the other side:
Afterwards, Riley threw his buddy a pair of his goggles and had them signed by Tom for Gabe. THEN, Gabe waited for Tom to come out of the podium area where he was getting his first place award, and had Tom sign his hat and his phone.
As we walked back to the car, Gabe said, "That was pretty sick." Yes. Yes it was.
Sunday's at Sundance
9 months ago