Troy Billington Checks in From Austria

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Editor,

Hello from Salzburg, Austria, home of the great Mözart! Just a quickie to all to let you know what is happening, and what is next for Building Bridges, the V.I. skeleton team and myself.

The year in St. Croix working with the St. Croix students and the pirate ship and the World Ocean School was great. I am very glad it happened and happy with what has come from it, especially the V.I. youth who spent weeks on the boat this summer sailing up the Atlantic Eastern coast, Nova Scotia and the other St. John in Canada. Sweet.

But I have to say a year off skeleton was very painful and I can’t do it again. I have to race skeleton until my body tells me I can’t, period. And training this summer with the Germans and Austrians showed me that I am nowhere near quitting time. So, here we go.

I’ve teamed up with Ms. Dinah Browne again for another trip to Europe and the Olympic training school with eight of our best V.I. athletes. This will be in the first two weeks of November. If all goes well with their performance in school and the sponsor support, there will be the start of the Europa Cup immediately after school in Austria, and nearby Berchtesgaden, Germany (a.k.a. Königsee). I would love to keep this class there two more weeks and have a Virgin Islands entry into the Europa Cup and get them started right then, bam, which really means one month in Europe for these eight athletes. But I’ll begin with the first two weeks of school and see how it goes.

This is happening now as well as the after-school programming on land and sea in St. Croix. All of my focus right now is on my afterschool programming with Ms. Pinnick in St. Croix and the building and maintaining of the V.I. winter Olympic team. It is very clear that if Dinah and myself drop the ball on the Virgin Islands winter Olympic side, then it will surely die, for a little while at least, simply because no one is in a position to do what we can do and go where we have already been.

Skeleton, bobsled and luge aren’t common in V.I. conversation pieces, and not many of my people from the V.I. know much about Europe, Japan and winter sports. So, we have to maintain it until it can stand on its own. We need as many Chutney Mohlers, Alexa Putnams, Greg Millers and Gerson Guererras as we can find, as well as the other 78 athletes Building Bridges has moved around in the last four years.

So, November 1 we have a new eight. I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going down. Vienna was the bomb and Bratislava, Slovakia put me at 48 countries. Sweet!

Peace and love,
Troy Billington