ARTICLE: In 1977, fellow Olympic skier Billy Kidd and I had an adventure of a lifetime, skiing with Iranian Queen Farah Diba Pahlavi in their fresh “Persian Powder.” It was to promote skiing and goodwill with Iran, made possible by two visionary friends, the popular TV host Barry ZeVan and Iran’s Ambassador to the U.S., Ardeshir Zahedi.
This May or June, we have another priceless opportunity to beat the drums of peace and friendship when our countries need it most, by hosting some Iranian female skiers who have followed, including 24-year-old Olympic racer Marjan Kalhor, at California’s Mammoth Mountain.
Back then it was a glorious day as we skied in the shadow of the nearly 19,000 foot volcano, Mt. Demavand, which I recently learned is part of the Garden of Eden, located along the mountain chain from Turkey, Iran, Iraq to Syria. Our team was stunned that Her Majesty turned out to be the best skier of any head-of-state to date, and that she helped pioneer women’s rights internationally, as well as in Iran.
The late great ski filmmaker Dick Barrymore and filmmaker/producer Barry ZeVan captured her synchronized skiing with Billy and me:
It has empowered females around the world, especially Ms. Kalhor who was the first Iranian to compete in a Winter Olympics at Vancouver in 2010. http://www.denverpost.com/sports/ci_14481174
ZeVan’s film, which was nominated for an Emmy, also features our Cowboys and Indians Ski Chase. Ironically, Billy, who has Vt. Abenaki Indian and “Captain Kidd” pirate heritage, played the cowboy, while I wore an American Indian chief’s headdress. It inspired skiers all over the mountain to erupt in whooping tremmels – a delightful cross-cultural moment! I then gave the Queen a headdress “as a beautiful example of Ancient American Culture.”
Mahmoud/Jon Ghaffaris was a teenage skier at Mt Dizin watching our filming that day. Check out his phenomenal lineage that includes some of the three Kings/Wise Men who followed the star to Bethlehem, and protectors of the ecstatically peaceful Sufis and Whirling Dervishes on Ghaffaris.com. Could it be prophetic, given what happened when this IT officer for a L.A. company, put Barrymore’s footage on YouTube last year?
“It went viral,” said Jon, “lifting the spirits of Iranians around the world. That inspired me to find Billy while skiing at Steamboat this December and propose some kind of a reunion or exchange. Billy loved the idea and as director of skiing, offered to host it there.”
Jon contacted Barry and me. I was stunned and deeply touched that we had warmed the hearts of his countrymen. I had already dedicated a ski ballet to these sons and daughters of Abraham after other breakthrough experiences in Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, and Israel: Suzy’s Salute to Egyptian/Arab Cultures – The Unveiling!
PHOTO Caption (at right): This headdress is similar to the one I gave the Queen. I wore it in our Cowboys and Indians Ski Chase with Billy Kidd – caught him! This photo is from a fun traditional end-of-the-season ski race at New Jersey’s Mt Creek Ski Area, where I was Director of Skiing.
I then got the enthusiastic support of our State Department. Last October President Obama helped manifest the UN’s Global Girl Empowerment Initiative that includes our Sports United Exchange program to fund these kinds of outreaches between countries with whom we may not yet see eye-to-eye, since sports is the magical unifier.
In the 1970s, ping-pong did more to bring China and the U.S. together than millions in diplomatic budgets, paving the way to our becoming major trading partners. That allowed China to recently shift a major chunk of its Defense Budget to renewables, so we can too. Blessings on ping pong and the Chinese for inviting our U.S. Table Tennis Team. http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/st/english/article/2011/12/20111202165233esiuol0.1428797.html#axzz2SQ556wzQ
Jon also got the enthusiastic support of Ms. Kalor and other skiers and snowboarders from their three ski areas that opened in the 40s. With the help of the Iranian Ski Federation and Ski Patrol, these Iranian girls and our Native American ones are excited about skiing and boarding together. Said Ghaffaris, the YouTube piece reminded both traditional and progressives of some of the freedoms they enjoyed in the 1970s, including males and females and families being able to blissfully glide together down the same trails with the wind in the face and hair.
Unfortunately, since looking for funding has taken so much time, we needed to shift to Mammoth since they stay open til the end of May or first part of June. Mammoth happens to be Jon’s favorite ski area. Its founder, Dave McCoy, was the only one helping U.S. girls in the 60s and 70s get Olympic coaching through their racing club, which was key to my making the US Olympic Team. McCoy not only helped bring American girls out of our dark ages, but also pioneered sharing skiing with local Paiutes in their ancestral mountains through their school program, some becoming champions – perhaps why Mammoth has been blessed with some of the most snow in the U.S.
Given this delicate time, I was surprised and saddened that the State Department couldn’t find the funds for our exchange, especially since they also fulfill their goal of lifting countries around the world. Our Title IX and the international Girl Effect proved that girls getting sports and education opportunities and exchanges lift families, communities and nations, transforming poverty into productivity. They also give priceless hope.
Visionary baseball coach Dr. Sarah Hillyer pioneered the State Department’s U.S. Women’s Baseball Exchange in Iran, which created beautiful bridges. The U.S. has sent more than 30 athletes to Iran under male sports exchange programs since 2007, and more than 75 Iranian athletes and coaches have visited the United States. http://www.facebook.com/pages/SportsUnited-US-Department-of-State/10150101343025475
Our ski exchange would also build on the goodwill of February’s first (male) World Cup Freestyle Wrestling Championships in Iran. CNN captured how U.S. Olympic wrestlers were showered with love by Iranian fans. And while the Iranians wrestlers (who won three Gold Medals in the London Games), ended up beating our team, (which won two Gold Medals in London), the Americans proclaimed “the Iranians are the best in the world.” http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/iran-find-common-ground-olympic-wrestling-article-1.1267811#ixzz2Roug14SS Doesn’t that say that the people of our countries genuinely like each other after taking the time to get to know each other? And so can our leaders!
What further brought the two wrestling teams together is the decision by the International Olympic Committee to drop their ancient sport, which is “as old as the Olympics themselves.” It also brought former foes, the U.S., Cuban, and Russian federations into a remarkable alliance to lobby for a spot at the 2020 Games. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/iran-find-common-ground-olympic-wrestling-article-1.1267811#ixzz2RorNnAos
Ryan Murphy, an upbeat idealistic skier at the State Department, and Dr. Hillyer agreed this ski exchange should be a priority, but this year’s budget was already used up on other regions, though they graciously tried other sources, and Ryan offered to assist getting the Iranians here. As of today, nothing has come through, despite only $20,000 needed for five Iranian and five Native skiers and boarders being able to do wonders.
That is why many say we need to have a Department of Peace, or spend alot more resources and media time being proactive about peace and joyful healing, and involve more girls. CNN showed how US female soldiers in Afghanistan have amazingly helped heal communities. “Ever since the 2004 Athens Olympics, when the spirits of the Iraqis were lifted winning a soccer match, they have been requesting female soccer coaches for their girls,” said Greek-American luger Mike Voudouris, who helped get the Iranian team reinstated. By walking, running and sliding a mile in the moccasins of other cultures we can better see the light and create the prophesied 1,000 years of Peace.
RESTORING THE GARDEN OF EDEN
Since Iran is part of our Cradle of Civilization, doesn’t it behoove us to protect this sacred region from conflict to preserve the legacy of our Human Race? “Kurdish Iran, which sources the Tigris, has served as a center of origin for a tremendous number of species and genera, including powerful medicinals, flowers and fruits and later the origins of agricultural crops. For eons, Kurdish families have picked and enjoyed the nurturing life force of those organic orchards,” said Olivia Ellis, my gifted Cherokee advisor and Master Gardener having a Kurdish Elder friend. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6C_VdnMHpc&feature=related.
To additionally heal this region we could help de-mine Iran’s Edenic orchards sadly abandoned since the Iran-Iraq War after children lost legs, arms, and eyes. Good Samaritans have cleared many mines, but what a karmic healing opportunity to help finish the cleanup so families can once again enjoy the sweet native life-sustaining fruit. Mine clearing with rodents is now safer and affordable. Then visitors of many faiths could flock to the Garden and join in dances to celebrate our Beginnings.
Supporting either of these actions, or ideally both can enhance ‘peace and goodwill to all Men’ in the homeland of the Magi to help bring in the New Dawn. Their gifts to baby Jesus of Frankincense and Myrrh to protect Him from dark energies and attract good ones, are similar to the burning of sage, sweet grass and copal in Native American ceremonies. The males and females of our 500 Indian Nations also invented team sports such as lacrosse, baseball, ice hockey and the roots of basketball, for healing, cultural exchange and solving conflicts, including before meetings. See why our tribes are also heroes to skiers: http://www.snowsports.org/blog/index.php/2013/04/24/suzy-chaffee-explains-national-snow-gratitude-ceremonies/
For these reasons, in the absence of an abundance of government funded war prevention exchanges, we are encouraging People-to-People Peace and Joy offensives through the Arts and Sports, like our ski exchange. Let’s enhance the friendship and love that many of us already hold in our hearts.
We are also inviting a tribal Elder from both countries to lead a healing ceremony at Mammoth so the primal drums of peace can echo around the world’s mountain chains to prophetically restore our magnificent flowering Eden for all our children.
The Native American Olympic Team Foundation (NAOTF) is a 501C3 tax exempt Colorado non-profit partnership of Olympians, tribal leaders and Elders, whose mission is to “create joyful unity through sports and education to help heal Mother Earth for all our children.”
To host this Iranian exchange ideally this May or first of June, we need donations right away that can be made on NAOTF.org. Anything left over would go toward helping de-mine Iran’s Garden of Eden. Thank you for being part of our People-to-People Peace Team!
Article is Copr. © by Suzy Chaffee, and originally published on eNewsChannels.com – all commercial and reprint rights reserved. Contact Suzy at: Suzynativevoices@aol.com, or http://naotf.org/ .