Its been a strange couple weeks…after a decent start to the season with some solid results in Lake Louise that got me up and going again in racing World Cup to the frustration of being close to a really good result in Val d’ Isere if not for a couple small mistakes! It's always the little mistakes that make the difference between smiling with a top ten result or leaving the finish area dissatisfied and wishing for another go at it.
I am really happy with the way I am skiing, I have come a long ways in the past six months technically and have met a lot of my goals but there are still many goals that I am reaching for. Many of them results based of course, as with any profession a lot of what measures your success is what makes it down on paper. At the same time though (for myself at least) the other goals I have are no so results based and are more focused on how I live my life as an individual.
At some point the ski racing life will be over for me and I will be left looking back at how I was as an athlete and what I learned. I have learned many things over the years, almost too many to list but some of the basics are; how to be patient and take one day at a time; as in relation to being injured or waiting for hours on end for a Downhill race that has the continual 15 minute delay till the next decision while the whole time you are trying to maintain a positive and excited attitude in case the race actually happens and when it finally does or does not happen it’s a relief because you can actually get off your bum and do something other than sit and wait! I have also have learned accountability; I can’t really say that I have had one result or another because of a specific person or situation, what it all really boils down to is myself, it can be easy to blame others for slow skis or a bad inspections but it really has been up to myself the whole time to make the appropriate decisions about where my day and life is headed. At my great moments I know in the end that even with the help and support of my whole team what really made the difference on those great days was myself. I've learned how to “follow my own path” and that there is no one way to do things, my journey through the world of ski racing is different than others and I don’t need to follow the same rituals and training regimens of older, more experienced, or more successful athletes. Yes, I can learn from them but I really found that my own way was the best way after a time. We all have different experiences in life that shape us into who we are and we have to try and do the best we can in whatever we are striving for. In the same genre of thought trying not to be judgmental of others and how their path differs from own, I may not be able to relate to other athletes or people in their own experiences but however they choose to live or prepare and compete as an athlete might be the best “path” for that individual.
One of the many things I have learned is that there are many things more important to life than just ski racing, that there is family, friends, and all the people near and far from that us that support us, our ski racing community and our country. At times It can be easy to fall into the trap that many athletes succumb to and think that what I do as a professional ski racer really matters, but it doesn't really matter one way or another what I do in ski racing in the grand scheme of things. It’s really just for me that it matters and it is key to keep it all in perspective.
For a couple weeks I would wake up and have a pit in my stomach, that sick feeling you have when something terrible has happened, it would take me a moment to realize what it was for. But then I would suddenly remember some of the recent tragedies that have had a large impact on me and so many others. From the accident with Bryce Astle and Ronnie Berlack, two young men that I liked and thought well of. They had already achieved some of their dreams and goals and were surely on the way to reaching more of them, two young men that were certainly taken from this world too soon. We can all at least know that they were lucky enough to see some of their dreams realized and were still living those dreams.
To another tragic incident involving Will DuBois a young man in the U.S. Air Force that I grew up with and remembered so well from my childhood. A boy that could be mischievous at times as many people who knew him can attest to, but all around a good kid and someone that showed kindness to a young girl like myself when it probably would have been easier to torment a young girl like so many boys do. Although I didn’t know Will very well in his adult life from what I know he was also lucky enough to also be living out his dreams as a pilot in the Air Force. Not to forget the amazing service and sacrifice he was giving for his country.
All these people and sad events recently and from years ago have reminded me again that’s it not so-so important the things you do for yourself in life, what’s really important is the things you do for each other and the experiences you share with each other. Not that every experience will be a good one, there are always bad experiences and many of them never leave us but that we try to learn from all experiences so we can continue to grow as people for ourselves and in our relationships with others if it’s family, friends, coaches, teammates, strangers, or even lifties!
I am also reminded that each day is precious, and even though that might be a cliche we hear all the time but each day does matter in some regard or another. That we can’t let them slip by one after another without taking the chance to try and be better as a person, sister, brother, mom, dad, relative, dog walker or whatever. Or take the time to have new experience wherever or whatever that might be. Or an old experience or activity that we love. Or to take the risk to push for your dreams and goals to be realized even if it scares you.
Anyway, all these weeks off from competition have certainly given me a lot of time to think! Some of it comes out clearly onto paper, some not so much and it a confusing mess of thoughts, but at least it’s all there. Hopefully we get back to racing this weekend in Cortina but you never know…still have to take one day at a time!
Ski in Peace Bryce and Ronnie