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Do I take a year off of university to ski?

post #1 of 100
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

I'm 22 years old, studying at university.

We currently have no ski club. I'm trying to change that - spoke to the manager of the Club/IM program and are going to meet next week to discuss possibilities for the 2010-2011 season. I'd like to run a ski race club, and get 10-15 people involved. 

However, I am considering taking next year off and racing PG at Loveland. I am status post-op from six R knee surgeries (did my ACL 3 times, MCL, LCL, and medial meniscus once) from a ski accident six years ago.

I ballooned to 320, now at 250. Working on getting back to 188 (just got my workout plan and have been following that, as well as changing my diet). I've never raced FIS. Was always top in high school races in the northeast (I realize that doesn't mean much) and raced some USSA. My results were lackluster.

I really want to race and get to the FIS level. Is it too late for me?

Should I take the year off? I spoke to the Varsity coach at school and he said "You can always take a year off of school - your athletic ability decreases each year" and he has a point.

But has my prime passed? Should I just accept that I'm in school and need to get my degrees and focus on graduate school? Is creating a ski race club a good idea in lieu of going to Colorado? If it were you, would you (A) take the year off and ski or (B) create the ski race club and ski at local, vapid mountains of the Boston area?

I know this is largely a personal decision but I could use some guidance.

Thank you. 
Edited by mbp67 - 1/10/10 at 8:41pm
post #2 of 100
It think if you don't have even a basic ski club, then it is extremely doubtful that you are going to get a "ski racing" club.  That to me would be what they call a "pipe dream".  Better to see if you can wrangle enough students together who want a basic ski club. 

250lbs.  I would say, who are you trying to kid that you are going to be a ski racer full time?  I would suggest that you try to take a few weekends off and get in some ski races this year, which I assume you can do, timewise, but ski racing under any circumstances is likely a very enormous risk for you.  Knees once injured are often never the same and history of multiple surgeries??  Harvard?? Hmmmm.

You medical history is an enormous negative, personally, I would suggest that you forget about ski racing and just try to get some 25,000 vertical days in and see how you do with that.  It is likely that with the physical stresses of ski racing that you will be heading for more surgery and you should just try to take it easy and see if you can even enjoy occasional, casual ski racing.  It is very hard to ski with chronic pain.  It is likely that part of your knee troubles are from your ski racing in the past.  Why take the chance of ruining ANY physical activity in the future. 
post #3 of 100
Thread Starter 
 250 currently, I'm working on getting back to 188 and plan to be there by November. Loveland trains Oct-April. 

Many people, including mastersracer here, have gone back to ski racing. I know what I'm up against but many surgeons have told me it's fine to do it again as long as I wear a brace. I was going to go to Chile this summer and see how my knee holds up skiing.

Why do you think it'll be difficult to make a ski race club at Harvard? We have a House system here and many Houses go on ski trips, but there's just no universal ski club. I don't think it'll be impossible to find 10-15 people who want to try ski racing and get the chance to get 2-3 days a week to do it. The biggest issue is funding. I was told there is little funding for this and members will have to chip in. 

I'm just trying to have a lively, healthy debate so I can make the best decision for next year.
post #4 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbp67 View Post
But has my prime passed? Should I just accept that I'm in school and need to get my degrees and focus on graduate school?
 

Can't help you on the racing front. Not my specialty.

But as far as focusing on getting your degree, does that means you need to borrow more money for that extra year off? If yes, I'd say to think it over seriously on what does ski racing means to you in the grand scheme of life. If on the other hand money is not an issue and the only concern is graduating a year later, I don't see why you can't go chase your own dream for a year. School can wait.  
post #5 of 100
Thread Starter 
 Good point, should have mentioned that.

Money is not really a concern. 
post #6 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbp67 View Post

I ballooned to 320, now at 250. Working on getting back to 188 (just got my workout plan and have been following that, as well as changing my diet). I've never raced FIS. Was always top in high school races in the northeast (I realize that doesn't mean much) and raced some USSA. My results were lackluster.

I really want to race and get to the FIS level. Is it too late for me?
 

This article about a bike racer getting back into the game long after his prime may encourage you:  http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/31/health/nutrition/31fitness.html?_r=1 .  Though to be honest it sounds like he was more successful as a bike racer than you were as a skier. 

But the bottom line, coming from this old fart: do it.  Your chance to take a year off is now, whether or not you get to the FIS level you'll be doing something that's out of reach for most folks, especially Harvard-style overacheivers, who stay in the school and career rut. 
post #7 of 100
I would say, no. Finish your degree then decide what you want to do. Having Harvard credentials is going to open up a lot of doors for you once you graduate. You can write your ticket. Make sure you have this first. Work on getting a ski club going at Harvard.
post #8 of 100
Thread Starter 
Another positive about starting the ski club is once it's there, hopefully it can stay there. And it'll be my giving back to a university that gave me a lot.

But, Colorado does sound nice...

:)

I am leaning towards staying, but it's difficult to decide.
post #9 of 100
Go. Live the ski bum dream while you have the chance when you're young.
post #10 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by MojoMan View Post

I would say, no. Finish your degree then decide what you want to do. Having Harvard credentials is going to open up a lot of doors for you once you graduate. You can write your ticket. Make sure you have this first. Work on getting a ski club going at Harvard.

I hope its a degree that can be used in ski country. spending 4 years of life away from ski country to promise yourself that you ll spend the rest of your life away from ski country seems like a REALLY dumb idea to me no matter the school.
post #11 of 100
Thread Starter 
 I'll probably stay in academia and hopefully stay in New England...

If not, I'm hoping to get a job at ETH Zurich. Then there's the Alps...
post #12 of 100
mbp67,

I took a a winter out of college while taking courses when I had a promising racing career in hand and no previous injuries; it just made sense to continue to develop as a racer. That summer, I paid my own way to Argentina for a 3 week training camp with a DH focus. After that winter and summer, which were extremely successful, I took the following year off from college completely. I trained at Waterville Valley in their full time program and traveled extensively in the East and some in the west competing in USSA and FIS including CanAms (which are now NorAms) as well as USSA Nationals and a WC. I had good results so at that point I could get fully supported equipment, coaching and racing at the highest level for the following year, so I stayed out of college. As you know, I broke my back early in the season of 77-78 and quit racing entirely. I went back to college and graduated.

25 years later I got back into racing when I had a windfall from a home sale and the opportunity to get excellent training. I resumed my racing career by joining USSA Masters with an intent to run DH and then be done with racing on a positive note, not on an injury. I did retire from Masters 'standing up' and achieved a lot of my personal goals. Whats more is I became associated with a great bunch of people. I am coaching now because after returning to racing I discovered I had skills that I could use for 'paying back' ski racing for my own personal life development by helping others improve their skiing.

I think that you should set your goals high and work hard to reach them. If school can wait and delaying your graduation won't negatively influence your career, go racing. You need to be realistic about your goals. Next fall you may or may not be at your target weight. You may or may not be as strong as you should be to try to race at an FIS level. If you are strong and your knee is healthy in the fall, go PG at Loveland or somewhere else. If not, maybe you can do a less intensive program either in the East or West and take Internet courses to keep your education moving forward. USSA Masters is not FIS or NorAm, but it is a very competitive and exciting racing circuit. If you need to get some completion with racing, as I did, Masters is a good place to do it.

As far as the racing club is concerned, your school has a varsity team, so there is a place for racing at school. For club level racing, you will find there are plenty of groups that offer that which aren't necessarily school affiliated. I would reduce your choices to school or year/winter off for racing.

I know that returning to racing has made a world of difference in how I feel about skiing. I went back to school after my accident and worked for Apple so my life wasn't dull and I was on the bleeding edge of technology, rather than of sport; I was occupied by challenges and I was content. I had chosen to quit racing after a serious, life threatening accident which was the right thing to do at the time yet it wasn't until a lot later that I had second thoughts about that decision.

I understand your need to find completion with your sport. It is no fun quitting because of injury. I also know what it is like to take time out of education to pursue sport. I had demonstrated potential in ski racing, so the choice was pretty easy to continue my path to a higher level and delay school. Your level of acheivement is different than mine, but it is clearly important to your happiness and well being as was my own pursuit of success. If you can afford to put your career on hold go for it!

You are obviously quite dedicated to getting into condition and becoming competitive in ski racing. I suspect that you won't forgive yourself if you don't give it a shot. Get healthy. Go racing. Decide what level will best matches your fitness in the fall. Whether you go PG and take a year off or Masters and just take the winter off, you'll have pushed yourself hard and achieved a lot. You can have an experience that not many people have a chance to do. Don't be one of those that 'wish they had'.
Edited by MastersRacer - 12/31/09 at 2:13pm
post #13 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by BushwackerinPA View Post




I hope its a degree that can be used in ski country. spending 4 years of life away from ski country to promise yourself that you ll spend the rest of your life away from ski country seems like a REALLY dumb idea to me no matter the school.

A four year degree from Haaaaaavaahhd is good anywhere in the world.  What would be dumb is to finish the degree then bum around for a few years before getting on a career track.  Employers want "recent graduates" or people with recent and relevant experience.  If you didn't just graduate last year, and you haven't been working in your field the degree becomes worthless pretty quickly compared to other candidates with relevant experience.
post #14 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post




A four year degree from Haaaaaavaahhd is good anywhere in the world.  What would be dumb is to finish the degree then bum around for a few years before getting on a career track.  Employers want "recent graduates" or people with recent and relevant experience.  If you didn't just graduate last year, and you haven't been working in your field the degree becomes worthless pretty quickly compared to other candidates with relevant experience.

so work everyday of your life to ski with the weekend crowds some of the time? even the top execs from boston and new york only get to ski on the weekend. 

The feeling of skiing can not be bought with money.

also why i am argueing with someone who got stuck in the the carolinas you actually kinda of prove my point.
post #15 of 100
MasterRacer had summed it up quite nicely, including the part of taking the time off AND getting back to finish it.

The big danger is for those who're less dissiplined, they end up bumming around for years without going back to finish their degree. If you trust yourself enough NOT to fall into that trap, I'd say go for it!

It's my opinion it would work out better to go half way through your degree instead of end of degree. You want to rely on the faculty connections on your final year to find you your first job. Trying to find an acedemic job at the end of a year long ski bumming will be much more challenging.
post #16 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by BushwackerinPA View Post




I hope its a degree that can be used in ski country. spending 4 years of life away from ski country to promise yourself that you ll spend the rest of your life away from ski country seems like a REALLY dumb idea to me no matter the school.

I wouldn't say getting a degree from Harvard is a dumb idea, regardless of what you plan to do when you graduate. I guess it's about priorities. If your priority in life is skiing and think it always will be, then Harvard comes second.

I guess the questions to be asked are:

Is money a priority/concern or do you think it will be in the future?

How much money and success do you realistically think you will garner by making a prfessional career in the ski industry and do you think you will be happy with it ten years from now?

Will you always be happy just getting by financially as long as you can ski?

If you are not sure, I would not even think about giving up Harvard for skiing. That's a lot to give up. A Harvard degree will score you a very nice salary and open up many doors in graduate school and in the professional world. You will have plenty mof money to spend on gear and skiing.  IMO, of course.

The worse thing that could happen is four years from now you get injured or get burned out on skiing and say, "Damn, I wish I had stayed at Harvard"
 
post #17 of 100
You make it sound like it's skiing vs. Harvard. But it isn't.

This is truely a case which you can have the cakes and eat it too!   

Quote:
Originally Posted by MojoMan View Post

I wouldn't say getting a degree from Harvard is a dumb idea, regardless of what you plan to do when you graduate. I guess it's about priorities. If your priority in life is skiing and think it always will be, then Harvard comes second.

I guess the questions to be asked are:

Is money a priority/concern or do you think it will be in the future?

How much money and success do you realistically think you will garner by making a prfessional career in the ski industry and do you think you will be happy with it ten years from now?

Will you always be happy just getting by financially as long as you can ski?

If you are not sure, I would not even think about giving up Harvard for skiing. That's a lot to give up. A Harvard degree will score you a very nice salary and open up many doors in graduate school and in the professional world. You will have plenty mof money to spend on gear and skiing.  IMO, of course.

The worse thing that could happen is four years from now you get injured or get burned out on skiing and say, "Damn, I wish I had stayed at Harvard"
 
 
post #18 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by BushwackerinPA View Post




so work everyday of your life to ski with the weekend crowds some of the time? even the top execs from boston and new york only get to ski on the weekend. 

The feeling of skiing can not be bought with money.

also why i am argueing with someone who got stuck in the the carolinas you actually kinda of prove my point.

LOL, I didn't get "stuck" anywhere and didn't have any "real" job until I was almost 40 years old.  When's the last time you went surfing Bush?  I 'm split dead center between the mountains and ocean.  Howeer, I started wanting/needing a "real" job around the time I turned 30 but had to go back to college and get a NEW degree because my 4 year degree from 1986 was pretty worthless.  I lived the life well in to my 30s and still landed on my feet by age 40.  However, most of my "friends" form the old days that didn't settle down are either addicts or dead.

Also. I telecommute.  I can live and work anywhere with an internet connection. :-P
Edited by crgildart - 12/31/09 at 4:23pm
post #19 of 100
What a load of crap. I'm studying with Einstein at Harvard, should I take a year off and bus tables at Steamboat? And our good friends here jump right in. You have got to be kidding me. LOL.
post #20 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by at_nyc View Post

You make it sound like it's skiing vs. Harvard. But it isn't.

This is truely a case which you can have the cakes and eat it too!   

 



 


The OP was just asking for opinions.

If he wants to explore it, instead of taking the whole year, why not take a sabbatical during a winter semester and test the waters? The ski bumming lifestyle can appear to be a romantic idea to someone young and those who have done it and enjoyed it seem to reccomend it. How many people, however, found they weren't compatibile with that choice and found it was not all it's cracked up to be, for them personally? Or how many found that the time away interfered with an efficient adjustment back to profressional or academic life? We never here those stories, only the good stories. Everyone is different. How many peoplle reccomend it because they wish they had done it, now that they are getting up their in age? How many young people took time away and couldn't adjust back to having a structured schedule? There are lots of things to consider. This isn't a Warren Miller movie, it's the real world.  I would take slow steps to test the waters instead of jumping right in and leaving Havard. There is more to consider than just the immediate moment, IMO.

That's just my opinion, though, and that's what the OP wanted. The opinions seem to run the gamut here so he has plenty of opinions to digest. Best of luck with whatever he decides.
post #21 of 100
mbp has had a huge health issue resulting from injury. Skiing is a great way for him to get himself back into shape and enjoy doing so.

I hear that Harvard is a pretty demanding school. Do you think mbp will be a better student if he stays in school and every day is constantly wishing he was skiing and pursuing his dream. Or would he be more focused in school, a year later, after taking the time to pursue the dream. Pursuing the dream has a significant health improvement benefit, whether he makes it skiing at the FIS or Masters level or not.

Health is a very valuable asset. What good is a degree from any school if you aren't healthy enough in body and spirit to employ it?
post #22 of 100
What is the goal of the time off, though? Health or skiing? Can you get to the FIS level in a year, given that you are recovering from an injury?

As far as what good is a degree-- from Harvard--a  lot, a whole lot, 'write your ticket'  lot.
post #23 of 100
Thread Starter 
I don't know. From what I understand, it would be nigh impossible.

My goals are to have fun, and to improve to become a great skier who could come back to Harvard and race in the northeast and see myself on the podium. 
post #24 of 100
I doubt if ONE year off to race is going to find you on any podiums racing in the northeast.  That's a tough circuit.  I'm trying to be a realist here.
post #25 of 100
Thread Starter 
 I appreciate it. Not FIS, but I understand what you mean. 

But if I had to make a list of goals, that would be it.

The biggest unknown is my knee - I don't know how my knee will hold up. It could fail, even with all the exercise it will be given. And that's a huge risk.

I just don't know what to do.

Do you all think it's pretty impossible to start a ski race/ski club at school? Enough where people who could want to be in gates could be in gates? Our Varsity team is only 4 kids and it's 40 FIS points and under. I'm sure there are lots of former racers that would love to race again but just aren't that good. Few are.

I really would like to do that, I think.
post #26 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by MojoMan View Post

What is the goal of the time off, though? Health or skiing? Can you get to the FIS level in a year, given that you are recovering from an injury?

It doesn't matter if its for health or skiing. He might or he might not get to FIS level. But he'll have a helluva good time trying and be healthy when he's done.

As far as what good is a degree-- from Harvard--a  lot, a whole lot, 'write your ticket'  lot.

The recognition a Harvard degree brings is unarguable. However, there are bums from ivy league schools and leaders from state colleges. Where mbp gets his degree isn't really the point. If he is good at what he does, he'll get the recognition he deserves.

I got my job at Apple right after college because I had good grades, a good degree and people skills. I had also worked in an Apple computer store. My degree was from USM (University of Southern Maine) and I'd also been to UNH (University of NH). My education was good but unimpressive at least as far as the schools I attended.

My boss at Apple would introduce me as: 'This is MR. He is our Technical Support Supervisor and a former member of the US Ski Team.' My performance and initiative as a ski racer significantly impressed my boss, enough that he hired me over other equally qualified candidates and constantly referred to my past with our clients.

I don't know what mbp's success in ski racing may be, but if I were interviewing him, Harvard or any other school degree, and he told me how he was injured, had complications from surgery and recovery then overcame them through a focused program of training and coaching to become a ski racer, I'd be impressed as it shows strength of character, desire, ambition and objective planning to achieve a goal.

I suspect that mbp will get his degree with or without a year off from Harvard. How happy he will be as a person will be significantly impacted by his decision and how he deals with it. A happy Harvard grad will be a better employee than an unhappy one.
 
This USM grad is a better consultant for having returned to racing and achieved my dream to race competitively in Masters. If I hadn't, I'd be a less happy person and still asking the questions 'what if?' and 'can I?'. I'm also glad for the two years I took off from my higher (or is it lower, non-ivy league) education to pursue my dream of racing in the tracks of Thoeni, Russi and Klammer.

mbp is 22 y.o., money isn't an issue, he's ambitious. It doesn't matter so much if he wins or loses races as long as he makes a plan to get healthy, get an education and live in a way that he can deal with for the rest of his life.

 
post #27 of 100
Thread Starter 
 Wow, what a post and what great thoughts.

I just mentioned I go to Harvard because I wanted help with creating the ski club issue and thought where I went may be relevant. It wasn't to start a fight. :)

I guess, to be fair, the same impression could be given if I were able to start a serious ski club at Harvard, too, right? 

Do you think the best thing for me is to spend a week in Chile this summer, i.e. August and see how I feel?

Chris
post #28 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbp67 View Post

 I appreciate it. Not FIS, but I understand what you mean. 

But if I had to make a list of goals, that would be it.

The biggest unknown is my knee - I don't know how my knee will hold up. It could fail, even with all the exercise it will be given. And that's a huge risk.

I just don't know what to do.

Do you all think it's pretty impossible to start a ski race/ski club at school? Enough where people who could want to be in gates could be in gates? Our Varsity team is only 4 kids and it's 40 FIS points and under. I'm sure there are lots of former racers that would love to race again but just aren't that good. Few are.

I really would like to do that, I think.

DO NOT QUIT SCHOOL. Finish out your final year, get your degree from the best university in the country, THEN take off and enjoy a 6-9 month break to ski.

I'm going to level with you. If you aren't good enough to make the team at Harvard, you aren't going to have any success racing Intermountain- or on the east coast, VARA, MARA, Empire Cup, even PARA. Whomever told you that (a) the Varsity team is only 4 kids and (b) that they all are below 40 FIS points is full of it. First, you need at least 4 skiers to field a starting team, so obviously there's more than that on the squad. Second, two of the guys that are traveling consistently finish last and second to last and are around 200 points.  I'm not even good, hardly train anymore, and I'm below that.

I love your enthusiasm and aspiration, but please be realistic and do the right thing for the remaining 50 years of your life. With a Harvard degree you have a built in advantage that 99.999% of other college graduates do not in the worst job market in 80 years.
post #29 of 100
Thread Starter 
 I'm not in my last year. Let's just say I went from everywhere from physics to math to philosophy to government to economics, to where I am now. I still have two years left if I want the degree I want. 

6 people are listed on the team site, sorry. I am pretty sure the coach told me it was 40 FIS points but I admit I am wrong at times. :)

I wouldn't quit - I would return as soon as possible, and it would give me more time to work on my thesis, and possibly enough time to pull off doing two senior theses. So that's a positive!
post #30 of 100
Mojo and philcski,

Why do you think a year off is going to be detrimental to his Hah'v'd education? He's a freshman now, he'd come back and have three solid years to complete. I think he might focus better and get more out of the years in school if he got his health back and his dream realized? Plus he'd have a great life story of personal success for his job interviews. And he's not going to be a bum, he's going to be an athlete.

mbp,

It's too early to think about what you can achieve in Chile, although I'll say it again, I'd go in a heartbeat given the opportunity. There is nothing like it. If you are given the go ahead to ski by your medical support team, I'd think it would be a good place to test yourself out. Then you'd know if you actually will have the strength, agility and stability in your knee and entire body to try racing again.

MR
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