Sochi Schmochi

Starting-LinecropI mean, why travel thousands of miles to stay in half-finished hotels with double toilets and get accosted by three-legged dogs, only to see skiers race through their event before the snow turns to fog, when you can enjoy winter sports in Vermont? I’m talking about that pinnacle of winter sports, the Wendell-Judd Cup, where skiers from around the world but especially from within a 10-mile radius come to compete against each other and the elements and—in my case—against a general sluggishness caused by eating too much mac’n’cheese.

Race-BeginsThanks probably to the long lines in Sochi and to near-nirvana conditions in Vermont, there was a record turnout at the Wendell-Judd Cup this year, with a multitudinous 76 skiers and snowshoers registering and another estimated 20 sneaking onto the course for the shear fun of it. The fastest skiers, or as I call them, “the show-offs who did not eat too much mac’n’cheese,” were led by Brattleboro Outing Club skier Tim Whitney, at 43 minutes and 21 seconds, soon followed by alumnus Dwight Holmes ’94 and Lilac Ridge farmer Ross Thurber.

The fastest woman on skis was Diana Whitney, who gave her hubby Tim a run for his money at 47 minutes and 9 seconds, followed by the OP’s first lady Debby Dorsett and student Liza Mitrofanova. In the youth category, Nolen Holmes, lightning lad of Dwight Holmes and Bonny White ’85, came in at 55 minutes 47 seconds, or faster than you can say “the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Yours truly and the rest of the “comfort food” category came in generally after people with watches were paying close attention. I intimated that skiers came from around the world, and I wanted to give special recognition to Abdel Izem, representing Morocco, who broke both of his poles trying to extricate himself from the deep snow on South Pond and skied the rest of the way without poles.

IMG_3734 copyBut that’s not all, because while this snow-spangled fun was happening in Marlboro, a stalwart team of Marlboro students traveled to Putney for a much-anticipated game of basketball against rival Landmark College. With only one sub on the Marlboro team, and the first full-court game they’ve played this year, they managed to tie Landmark at halftime, 22 to 22. The fans were going wild, and the Marlboro team showed them what fancy footwork and dribbling and pump fakes could be achieved with the benefit of a demanding liberal arts curriculum, but in the end they “lost” by two points, 48 to 46. All this olympic-style glory and clean drinking water too.


Arab Winter

IMG_7910Did you know that Morocco is the world’s greatest producer of phosphate, or that it was the location for shooting the original Star Wars? Did you know that it was the first nation to recognize the United States? Don’t worry, neither did I before I went to an informative talk by energetic Fulbright Arabic language fellow Abdelhadi Izem about his native land. The inimitable Abdel shared his views on the impact of the Arab Spring, the tsunami of revolutions that has swept countries in North Africa and the Middle East in the past two years, on Morocco. Now, you know as well as I do that everyone at Marlboro loves talking about revolutions, second only to talking about the lack of mugs in the dining hall. But Abdel upped the ante and brought amazing Moroccan sticky date treats rolled in coconut to assure an excellent turnout in Apple Tree.

UnknownOf course everyone has heard about major protests and cheeky rulers forced from power in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and, okay, Egypt again. Meanwhile, more quietly, Morocco also had a wave of demonstrations in 2011 and 2012, calling for political reform and a new constitution curbing the powers of King Mohammed VI. The king, who claims descent from none other than the Islamic prophet Muhammad, won a referendum on a reformed constitution, which has quieted down the protests considerably. But Abdel ably pointed out that the protests were not so much about liberty, freedom, and other highbrow ideals as they were about poverty, unemployment, and the lack of opportunity. While the new constitution has placated the people for now, he suggests Morocco is experiencing more of an Arab winter than a spring, or perhaps a mud season?

AbdelIzemAll I can say is that Marlboro is so fortunate to have visiting scholars like Abdel, with first-hand experience in distant lands that we can learn from. It makes our little community on this snowy ol’ hill feel very connected to the world in a tangible way. Abdel is also a total gazelle on the soccer field and a broomball tornado. Did I mention the amazing Moroccan sticky date treats?