Thanks everyone for the warm welcome :)
I learned how to ski at the age of 12, and joined a team at 13. I loved it, but I eventually asked my parents not to do it anymore because I had heard my Dad make the comment (when listening through the a/c vents) about how much money it was costing them. As much as skiing gates for those 3 years helped me technically, I seriously began to find it boring by the age of 15. After all, we were on a 200' vertical hill, it just didn't have the excitement it had in my final year of racing, it was more fun to cut out and get yelled at by patrol and the coaches for building jumps. I was fortunate, because my parents ultimately gave me the choice. I definitely kept skiing, and by the time I was 16 we drove ourselves to the places that had 300' vertical, lol.
I remember even at 13 other kids that would bitch and complain about having to ski, and "my Dad's making me go to Duluth to race this weekend" or just the general, "I'm sick of this." They were skiing for their parents, and some of those kids were at it since the age of 4 or 5. I was skiing for myself, no one skied in my family, so I fortunately didn't have any World Cup expectations on my shoulders.
When I moved to CO, I landed in Steamboat. Over those 5 years, I met a lot of people off the mountain. I had to do something for those 6 months in the summer, so I gravitated towards construction crews and met a lot of guys that grew up there. I heard on several occasions someone say, "I grew up racing here and I haven't skied in 10+ years" It was more common than I thought it would be. This was Steamboat after all, where the breed for the team. But that competiveness can spoil it, and rethinking why I left, it kind of dawned on me some more after reading rasingarizona's post. That competiveness and drive to be the best can be incredibly harmful to the one thing that lured us all into the sport to begin with - the fun.
I remember one conversation I had with a guy my I worked with and upon learning he walked away from it all I asked him one night when we were having a couple of drinks how he could've done that. He became angry about how hard he was pushed by his parents, basically the same thing that I had heard back when I was 12 from other kids. He went on to say it was their dream and not his, it was pound gates all day, get in the car every weekend and travel, sit on your ass and wait your turn, then get over analyzed at the end of the race and have all the things you did wrong pointed out. He said by the time he was 14 he had it in his mind that when he got the opportunity to quit, he would and never look back. He already had 10 years in at 14.
Now, I realize that's an extreme case of living the parents dream, and anything pushed as hard as that will leave a bad taste in a kids mouth. But there's something different about skiing than all the other sports parents push on their kids. Maybe the financial commitment the family makes forces the parents to push it harder? After all, when given the choice to keep going or quit, I quit because I knew it was costing my parents an arm and a leg.
I saw in someone's post that they mentioned there is now more free skiing being pushed by teams, it made me think of all this, and I think that's a positive move. Burn out is common, I saw a lot of it, it took me until 27 to hit that point, and even then, I don't think it was really burn out.
I tore my shoulder up in my last comp in March of my last ski season. I'm a bit different, because the way I have always looked at injury was, 'that's what I do in the off-season, recover' Injury never stopped me, and even that year I skied out the season with a torn rotator cuff. As long as I had health insurance, well, fix me doc. But, with that mentality, had I kept at it, I would be pretty damn beat up right now I think had I not walked away.
Rethinking what I posted yesterday, I left Steamboat because I couldn't find a girl more than anything. I wanted to get married and start a family. And the odds of meeting a girl do significantly increase with city population size and with a better girl to guy ratio.
So last week we get back from CO and my oldest son (age 10) says to me, "Dad I really want to be a skier". My ex (I really screwed that up...her family's loaded) immediately began looking into teams last week. I just got back from hanging out with them all and we just talked about it tonight, and my response was, I dunno. And really I don't. It's not a dime out of my pocket and I would be heavily involved, but I saw so many kids push back eventually. It's not like we need to decide right now, if anything we are looking at next season for him.
My other son (age 9) is the free spirit, the one that cracks jokes on the chair lift and wants to just play. I lured him into a steep area just to skiers left of Chute 1 (I made them ski up and look over the edge). The oldest immediately traversed out of there amidst some playful heckling by Dad. The youngest will apparently follow Dad anywhere I found out :) and I was hollering, 'let me see your jump turns' and suddenly he went head first and slid probably 100' down the hill, actually I was surprised he stopped where he did it was so steep for him. A ski instructor was looking at me like I was nuts for putting a kid with no poles into such a steep area, but my kid got up laughing, "Did you see that Dad?" He loved it, and so did I.
Like raisingarizona - in the pursuit of trying to get away from the city life mentality of climbing the corporate ladder, I essentially became what I was trying to escape from in those last 2 years when on the IFSA. I did take the fun out of it. I strived to be better than the guy in front of me, I pressed glass thinking that if I beat everyone to the top I'd get to the line I wanted to ski before someone else, I would drive 15 hours to the Sierra to compete for some unknown reason, I racked up credit card debt that took me 4 years to pay off. And while all that got me to a level I don't think I could've achieved without doing so - that pursuit to ski at a level that I saw in ski movies cost me the enjoyment that had once led me to the sport.
Now, upon my rediscovery, I need to be smart about how I am going to parent this. I have two little rippers that I need to mold - but in the process of doing that I can't lose focus of why they love it - it's just damn fun.
I can't wait to watch them crash some more.