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For what it's worth

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
I recently posted a similar topic in the instruction forum, and, thanks to all who posted in response. You all had some great ideas that I will work on.
I am a former disabled ski racer. I made to the U.S. Nationals twice in my carreer, but I never made the U.S. Disabled Ski Team. My pride and ego wished that things would have been otherwise, but money ran out, and I went off to college to focus on a carreer.
After eight years, I jumped in a race course for the first time. It was NASTAR, but the concepts haven't changed over the years: don't be late for the next gate, keep looking ahead, and don't get into the back seat, keep your hands forward.
I was racing against my buddy (and brother in law), who had never raced before, and he thoroughly kicked my ass, sometimes by more than 3 seconds.
My initial thoughts were, how could I, a former racer, get so thoroughly ravaged by a guy who had never seen a gate in his life?
Initially, I began making excuses. Well he was able-bodied. How could I dare to compare with somebody who had two strong arms and legs. He was also a tri-geek (thanks Gonz for the lingo), somebody who has routinely trained his body for the rigours of triatholon competition.
But something began to settle in. I just did not care anymore. It no longer mattered that I had been beaten badly. My pride was no longer a predominantfactor.
Skiing, to me, no longer is about keeping up with the Joneses, or what model of ski gear I had, or how many days I had logged in a typical season, or where I skied, or how steep the terriain I have skied, etc. etc.
For so long, after my racing carreer, I had felt this pressure that I had to live up to what I was supposed to be. For so long, I had been pressured by coaches (and myself) to be the best, to not lose my mental edge, to constantly get better, that I checked out of skiing for awhile, because I was tired of it all--tired of trying to be somebody else. And after getting beat, so badly, after those years out of racing, I realize that I just want to ski, feel the wind in my face, making arcs in the snow, no matter whatever terrain I happen to be on. Will I try to beat my buddy in NASCAR, you better believe it! But, if I never do, it will not make a dent in the overall scheme of life.
post #2 of 7
came to similar conclusion via different path.
30yrs ago was serious distance runner, 90 miles/week, college scholarship, etc.
at same time got into recreational alpine and x-c skiing.
wasn't a great runner though and finally burned out, giving up competitions in early 20's.
freedom and joy of recreational skiing was an antidote.
because of all that i never wanted to mess with the joy of skiing by getting into competitive side.
got to admit though i wonder sometimes what might have been if i'd taken my distance running aptitude and applied it for a few years to x-c ski racing?

got the opportunity to see some skilled disabled skiers recently on trip to winter park. you special snowriders are awesome and fill me with a good feeling about the strength of the human spirit.
post #3 of 7
Thank you! Your story gave me goosebumps!
post #4 of 7
That's why I switched to tele gear. No competition, and just a great feeling of freedom whenever I ski. I can't tell you how pathetic it is to see all these weekend warrior racer-chasers wearing their full-combat gear. Come on, slick suits should only be worn olympic caliber atheletes.

Powdr
post #5 of 7
Reading this post brought back strong and very fond memories of my Olympic and Paralympic experience. I spent a lot of days at Snowbasin in the years leading up to and during these events. Where movie stars and such are concerned, I'm not into hero worship - I'd rather be exposed to the people that participate in the activities that interest me.

Make no mistake, it was very cool to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the big names in alpine ski racing. It was great to ride the lift with Bode Miller - right before his memorable DH run - the day he won his silver medal in the Combined. I told him a joke and he signed my helmet. A moment I'll always treasure.

But given the opportunity, I would choose to work with the Paralympic athletes any day of the week. Without exception, the athletes that I met, rode the lift and skied with were warm and gracious. They were also extremely appreciative of the work we were doing. I had the opportunity to ski with several of these people - man do they rip. Many of them were also very funny and very irreverent as well.

Brokedown Palace,

While we may not have had the opportunity to meet at a Paralympic or World Cup event, I look forward to the simple pleasure of skiing with you someday soon.

IG

[ February 05, 2004, 08:58 AM: Message edited by: Inspector Gadget ]
post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thanks, IG.
post #7 of 7
I think that ski racers, epecially at the level you were at, after awhile will just suffer from burn out. Like you said, you are always being pushed to be better, faster, stronger, and cannot really make too many mistakes without someone pointing them out to you... whether it is a coach, parent, or team mate. Many times you will hear the same criticisms of a run from all three of them within a 15 minute period at the bottom of the race course. I agree, its not easy. I know many ski racers who have left the sport mainly because "its not fun anymore." These are people who have spent their entire lives training and racing, often very successfully, and just one day decide that enough is enough. Skiing is a sport that is meant to be enjoyed, above all else. Its good that youre back into and having fun again. Thats how it should be. Keep it up on the snow, and have fun!

I actually suffered a little burnout last weekend at our race and got really sick this week, thus im skipping a race this weekend. I doubt ill be back to full by the end of my season because of it. You can bet that i will hear about it from people because im not skiing, but its not worth getting even more sick or getting injured. Sometimes you just need a break to go free ski and have a good time. I'll be spending this race weekend at my home mountain skiing with my dad and younger brother, providing im well enough to ski.

Have fun!

Later

GREG
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