Interview conducted and recorded by Ellen Campbell on August 5, 2021
What are your earliest memories of joining the SSWSC?
Phillip: I think early on when we started to ski in private lessons through the Ski Resort. The first memory I have with the SSWSC was when I joined the U10 Racing team. We weren’t anything special but kids in these big old jackets just simply doing human slalom and learning the basics like how racing happened and everything.
Going through the SSWSC programs, what did you love the most?
Phillip: As a kid going through the program there were a bunch of different friends I made who I never had before because I grew up in an area where there weren’t many kids around us. So, I built a great friend-base there. After training was done we would all go off in our little groups and we would each take lead on which run we knew best … and say, hey we are going down this and we’ll meet at the base or we’re going to meet at the top of this mountain or whatever.
INTERVIEW WITH PHILLIP & HUNTER BISHOP
And it transferred over into my adult life being that I learned how to socialize in different groups. I learned how to have leadership in situations where I know I can probably lead. Just being able to have confidence. Imagine it is like going off a huge jump that you’re not sure ... something you’ve not done before. You’re not sure of what the other end looks like. You’re just going to try it and see how it goes. I think that’s a big thing that transferred to my adult life. It’s like you never know how things are going to go but if you think about it too long you might not do it. You might as well take that leap or you’re never going to do it.
Hunter: I think my favorite memory, or at least the image that stands tall in my mind, would be coming around the baseball fields as we would pull in to be dropped off for training. Just the sight of Howelsen all lit up with the hustle and bustle of all the different disciplines mingling as one. The excitement of grabbing the Poma for the first ride up of the night always gave me a quick rush before the real rush of racing down the face.
I learned the ability to accept failure of any given goal and to then use that as fuel/motivation for the same goal has been a hard learned lesson for me. My coaches were consistent in their passion for training both body and mind to work together to overcome the hurdles associated with a competitive environment. A strong body is nothing without a strong mind behind it.
I would tell a new family to the community about the SSWSC to just do it! The SSWSC is a family beyond your own. The friendships made are ones to last. There truly is no stronger sense of community than that of you and your friends simply doing that which makes you happy. Skiing or boarding, jumping or racing, freestyle or biathlon; everyone is family.
What would you tell your younger self that you could learn by participating in the SSWSC?
Phillip: I would have put everything in my energy and my body at the time when I had the ability to do so. I wish I had put more effort into training for competition. I think I might have missed the boat because I wasn’t confident enough in myself and my abilities to stack up against all the kids who were thriving because they threw themselves into their skiing. Their parents were supportive of what they are doing in their competitions and super supportive of their training. I think I should have grabbed hold of that because I did have opportunity to excel in that like hardcore and I think I may have gotten lazy and complacent and really didn’t want to. I think I was enjoying skiing for the fun and I would have pushed myself harder if I was skiing for the competition.
"Every time I pick her up or we meet at the bottom of the mountain, she is all smiles and happy as can be. Looking at her friends and saying good-bye to her friends but she always wants to take more laps with me – it’s just great!
I am happy that she has interest in the sport." -Phillip Bishop
Your daughter Lillie who is seven years old has experienced two years of the SSWSC Programs; Little Toots and U6. What joy do you see in her and what is your hope for her?
Phillip: We live in Clark and we have to get up early in the morning to leave enough time to drive to get her on the mountain. So on the way, she is sometimes excited and sometimes she sleeps. Every time I pick her up or we meet at the bottom of the mountain, she is all smiles and happy as can be. Looking at her friends and saying good-bye to her friends but she always wants to take more laps with me – it’s just great! I am happy that she has interest in the sport. I feel this is a new thing for her and only doing it for two years, Lillie has picked it up so quick that she is going to excel in it in a really big way if she wants to. I am not going to push anything. She makes so many friends – she really likes to ski with them. She will be in U8 this year. Her coach says Lillie really doesn’t know what slowing down means because she really goes fast. She knows what stop means but she really wants to go, go, go! She doesn’t turn too much, just goes. She is a speed-demon and I am happy that she is going to excel to U8s next year. I think if we keep at it she is really going to grow into something big.
Are there any other winter sports she participates in?
Phillip: With the Soda Creek program in PE, they usually do cross-country a couple times out of the month. She snowmobiles with us and enjoys sledding. I am waiting for her to get a little bit older to see if the is interested in anything else. She really would like to get into cross country. And if she wants to do that, I am all about it – that would be great. Even if she wants to do nordic combine that would be great – actually awesome! She is just in the junior programs and getting the fundamentals and basics down and that is opening a lot of doors for her. As she gets older she may know what she wants to get into. For me, it was just racing first and doors open up for me as I got more and more into the sport and it took me into the direction of what I wanted to do. I really hope that Lillie wants to stick with it but I am not going to force anything on her.
The SSWSC has been around for over 100 years. What do you think is the importance of making sure our legacy continues? How would you encourage others to keep involved with the club and to continue to donate for future generations?
Phillip: Just know Steamboat is "Ski Town, U.S.A." More Olympians come out of this town than any other. If you want to be known and you want to understand that skiing can take you places then there is no doubt if you’re an adult or even a kid who doesn’t know what they want to do with their side time, that getting into this Club is an immense opportunity for everybody. If the opportunity arises for them to do so. I am sorry, I didn’t think I would get so emotional. I’d want my daughter’s kids to be able to do so to be in the Winter Sports Club, too. I mean, it’s just so cool. Whenever people ask what I did in Steamboat I would always say I was in the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. And immediately they would say “Oh cool, you used to ski?!” The conversation goes from there. It is just an incredibly blessed part of my life that I was able to say that I was part of this organization that supports kids, advocates for athletes. The town works around the Winter Sports Club. The kids at Whiteman school would get out at noon to go skiing and compete. Whenever I tell people that from out of town, they would say, “What are you talking about? That’s crazy! What do you mean you just went skiing?”
I just think the Club is such a staple in this town. It makes ME want to stay here. Amongst other things, I just want to be here because it’s such a cool thing that no one – not a lot of people get to do this and to be able to be part of something that’s… it is a very clear. I mean, it speaks for itself. The athletes that come out of it are top-notch and I hope it continues for 1,000 years. It was a big deal and part of my life. It really was my escape – it was my fun time, it was a time… every time I’d get out of school at 3:45 and I would go over to Howelsen Hill and practiced from 4:00 pm until 6:00 pm. I would dread seeing that line of cars coming in the parking lot because I am taking the Poma up until the lights shut off. Even when the lights shut off they kept the Poma going and we would just go! It was just so much fun. I always looked forward to taking a hot bath – the best thing to do after practice.
You know, even the dry land part in the summer or for higher athletes – in school it was part of our after school program. We would just go to dry land training and we would train. I think I grew into my body eventually. When I first started Winter Sports Club I think it got me to the point where fitness in your life matters and practice makes perfect. You are never going to start out like a diamond. You are always going to start out needing to figure it out and needing to get training from the people who know what they are doing. And all the coaches are ex-athletes or some are Olympians and world-champion people. Summit County or Aspen don’t have it. This is where it is at.
Hunter: Organizations like the SSWSC are ones to be highly valued in the community. With the added support of its community, families and patrons, programs can be more than just ordinary, more than just basic. They can be extraordinary and next level. The level needed and sought after by those who aspire to hold a medal on the world stage. Why wouldn't you want to support something that supports the community like the SSWSC?
Wrapping up the interview, Phillip added:
(After an injury) I never lost my love for skiing, I never lost my love for the sport. Things happen to people and that’s just part of it. I am still grateful more than ever that I was able to be part of a club that breeds Olympians. Even though I didn’t quite make it or the people that got there, I am just grateful and happy to know these people. And I hope that it continues. I really need this in my life and I need it to be in my family’s life.
Lillie Bishop in the Little Toots program
Phillip Bishop and his daughter Lillie Bishop
"Organizations like the SSWSC are ones to be highly valued in the community. With the added support of its community, families and patrons, programs can be more than just ordinary, more than just basic. They can be extraordinary and next level. The level needed and sought after by those who aspire to hold a medal on the world stage. Why wouldn't you want to support something that supports the community like the SSWSC?" -Hunter Bishop
Member Spotlight: The Bishop Family