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Thursday, December 2, 2010
Thanksgiving at Dumont's


Host of hosts Simon Dumont poses for a photo with his lovely lady, Charlie Echeverria.

Anybody who has a contest coming up this winter would do well to be in Colorado's Summit County right now, since the first contests of the season — the Grand Prix at Copper and the first Winter Dew Tour at Breckenridge — both happen this month in Summit County. So if you want to compete, you've got to be there. But last week was Thanksgiving, and to fly home for the holidays, in addition to being a good way to lose crucial last-minute training time, is a little weird for people who for the most part arrived no more than a couple of weeks ago. The result? A great number of young, athletic strays with nowhere special to go on our nation's most food-oriented, no-nonsense holiday. That is, until Simon Dumont bought a house in the area.

Each Turkey Day, The Dumont opens his doors to the adrift, the itinerant, the halfpipe-skiing islands and the tabletop-taxing travelers in Summit County. It's a Thanksgiving celebration that has welcomed, one year or another, most every Who's Who of slope and pipe that one could name off the top of one's head. And it's not just a get-together, it's a downright feast, prepared under the loving and consummately capable supervision of Simon's mother, Barbara.

Luke Van Valin, the voice of freestyle skiing, capped off the ceremonial giving of thanks with a compliment for every single one of the 30+ guests in attendance.

The bounty was enough for Canadian Halfpipe Ski Team member Matt Margetts to exclaim, "I love American Thanksgiving." Most of Margetts's teammates, including Roz Groenewoud, Justin Dorey, Mike Riddle and coach Trennon Paynter, enjoyed fellowship, food and refreshments at the Dumont dinner. Also in attendance were some of the greatest hits of American pop: Peter Olenick and Timmy Russell, Freeskier Magazine's Shay Williams, ESPN Freeskiing's Nathan Abbott and the foremost voice of freeskiing the world over, Luke Van Valin.

The dinner opened with a heartwarming expression of thanks, of gratitude to the world. Each guest in attendance put timidity aside to announce their reasons for gratitude to all other guests. Through each guest's speech, brief or long, the undertone became clear that what everybody was most thankful for was friends to gather with, and a warm, homey place with wooden floors and something to eat besides cereal and peanut butter. Luke Van Valin closed out the exercise of this annual tradition, exhibiting his impressively sharp wit as he gave a compliment without a hitch to each of the 30-something guests around the table.

Halfpipe skiing's First Mom Barbara Dumont slaves over a hot stove on Turkey Day.

A week hence now, the warmth, full bellies and fulfilling friendships drift into the past as the focus shifts to tricks, trannies and terrain park tournaments. The holidays over, and haymaking ahead, so many young athletes turn once again to the task of turning aerials into awards, twists into trophies, revolutions into rent. They are under pressure, wrought with uncertainty, hiking, sweating, biking, icing, hoping to survive the physical trials that lie ahead. Competitors now, the luxuriant respite a week ago made a welcome moment to relax, a smooth segue, before the serious times set in.