As I write this, I’m overwhelmed with a number of emotions. I’m sad that this part of my life is over, but the pain was starting to take away from the fun I had for almost all of my career. I’m stepping away from competitive skiing- something that has shaped me into who I am now. I always wanted to go down as a legend, I wanted to be the best in anything I got involved in. Unfortunately, I won’t be remembered as a legend. My athletic career as a whole was slightly above average in a field of athletes that are best in the world. I didn’t have stellar results. I had a crowded injury record. The path I took as an athlete was not the most ideal, nor the easiest. However, now that I’m looking back at my career,
I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The most important lessons I learned from the sport and will take with me for the rest of my life were through adversity. Going through 5 knee surgeries in my career, it was an ugly pattern of surgery, rehab, repeat. Missing time and going backwards in my skill set cost me a lot of time and money opportunity. I spent a lot of time re-learning how to walk and ski, and never got to spend much time polishing the toughest skills. With the sport moving into more of an acrobatics focus, I was missing a lot of vital time practicing that skill set. My name would be missing from result sheets every other year. This cost me opportunity for prize money, and sponsors wanted star athletes with consistent exposure and potential to reach a big audience.
I quickly learned what I could control through the process of a 9-12 month rehab. Effort level, attitude, time management, critical thinking, problem solving, letting go the fear of failure, and the passion to constantly improve. All of these were skills that I was poor at, or didn’t have a great concept of before all of my injuries. My main focus was on time management. I would always have to play catch up when I was injured. Everyone on tour was getting better as I was going backwards. I had a couple hours of rehab everyday, then a workout depending what stage of rehab I was in. You have to work at least twice hard and twice as much as your competition in this position. I learned that limiting distractions, and using your focus effectively was vital. I picked out a few activities that were the major factors to my recovery and success and immersed myself in those. I left out the things that were not important. As for critical thinking and problem solving, there were a lot of things I’d have to do differently or tweak based on my health. They were things like how I would study a course, or how I would review video. I learned the biggest room in any place is the room for improvement. The biggest takeaway for me here is to put my ego aside, don’t be afraid to look stupid or fail, and do what it takes to constantly improve.
As I’m making the transition to the athlete afterlife, I didn’t spend much time in limbo. I’m now in a full-time digital marketing job. I’ve also decided to finish up my degree- taking 14 credits this semester and 16 next semester. At this pace, I should be done around Fall 2016 or Spring 2017. I developed healthy habits as an athlete and am still going to the gym 5-6 days per week. I have yet to feel overwhelmed, and I attribute that to the above lessons I learned as an athlete.
I do credit my work ethic to my mom. I lost my father at a young age, and my mom was left raising a 7 year old and a 2 year old on her own. She quickly jumped into the workforce and made sure we lived good lives. This will always stick with me. I hopped into the workforce at the age of 16 to help with the financial burden as I began to travel competitively for skiing. I probably wouldn’t have had a lengthy career with the US Ski Team, or a career at all if it wasn’t for the example that she set for my brother and I.
I’d also like to thank my family, friends, teammates, coaches, staff, medical professionals, sponsors, supporters, and anyone that’s reached out with a text/phone call/letter while I’ve been hurt. I would be nothing without you and I truly appreciate all you’ve done for me. I will try to emulate your level of generosity and kindness in my post-athlete life.
I will continue my involvement with ID One Pro Mogul Camp in Whistler, BC in the summer. I enjoy passing along my passion and knowledge of the sport to mogul skiers of all ages and abilities. I am also going to continue my role as the Treasurer of a new 501(c)3 non-profit: ID one Foundation. I’m passionate about helping athletes- present and future elite mogul skiers to reach their full potential by helping with costs associated with training and competition. We just had our first fundraiser and I was blown away at the community support. Exciting news about the foundation and how we’re supporting athletes will be coming in the next few weeks.
Thank you again for giving me this opportunity to represent the US, and all of the vital life lessons I’ve taken away from it, which I hope I can pass along. I’m extremely fortunate that this experience has introduced me to all of you, and you have all changed my life for the better. Hope everyone is healthy, happy, and successful. It would be my pleasure to catch up with you, either in person or digitally.