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I had no idea our cousin, Alex Schlopy, was going to be in the Big Air competition at this weekend's Winter X Games in Aspen. He usually competes in slopestyle, where skiers use terrain features such as rails and jumps to pull tricks as they ski down the mountain.
I'm amazed they can land anything, since I lose my balance just watching them. It's truly a gift and Alex Schlopy has it!
If you watched the X Games on Saturday night, then you saw the guy I'm talking about. We were very proud. As I kept telling the kids: He was the one in the banana yellow pants. Oh yeah, and he kicked butt. He literally stumbled into the competition, since they had just asked him to compete while he was in Aspen. The underdog. I remember that feeling -- it was the best. I loved it because there was no real pressure and so much fun. You had nothing to lose and everything to gain. And what a ride he had ... literally.
He was in first place heading into the finals, and that's when we got word he was on TV. I decided to skip our bedtime ritual of four books --instead, the kids ran into mommy's room to watch ESPN, a special treat. First we watched the finals of the women's half-pipe. The kids kept asking, "Where's Alex?" To which I would reply, "He comes on after the women. ..." or "He comes on after the ladies. ..." (They were completely confused about the difference between a woman, a lady and a girl, so we had that conversation while watching Kelly Clark absolutely dominate -- once again --and take home the gold!)
Then came the moment. Let me just say, it is so damn fun to cheer for family! I used to love/hate it when it was my husband, three-time Olympic alpine skier Erik Schlopy, because I was always afraid he was going to fly into the nets going 70 mph. But cheering for Alex, a young, awesome rookie in his first Big Air X Games competition, was amazing. I was on the phone with my husband, who was at the SIA show in Denver, after every jump. He answered the phone, "Are you kidding me?!"
The kids and I held our breath as Alex skied down the hill toward the monstrous jump that launches him into the air. He'd get bigger air than anyone else, land on his feet -- and our house would erupt! My son, Spider, and I were cheering so loudly I thought we'd wake up the neighborhood. Spider, who just turned 3, was jumping off the bed trying to mimic Alex's moves. I thought, uh-oh ... he might be hooked.
I've only known Alex seven years. But as I caught his Big Air act, I had visions of him doing crazy tricks on the backyard trampoline. Even then, he was truly incredible. My mother-in-law, his great aunt, said he learned everything at the skate park. She said he'd be there every second of the summer. And, of course, he comes from a long line of skiers. His mom, Holly Flanders, is an Olympic skier and his dad, Todd Schlopy, is a former ski-team member, along with his uncle Fritz and of course, his cousin Erik. And now, Alex is making a name for himself. He's in the big league now and life is going to change.
We have so much to thank you for, Alex ... a fun Saturday night, inspiring so many kids -- including your cousin Spider -- and the fact that people now know how to pronounce Schlopy ... (that's Sh-low-pee). Enjoy your golden moment! Continue to fly higher and we will continue to cheer our heads off.