Farewell Halfpipe, I'll Always Love You.
Last February, when I went to help my dad while he was in the hospital I told him I was going to announce my retirement from halfpipe skiing at the Park City Grand Prix. I could tell that he was relieved. I have to imagine it's been stressful being my parent for the majority of my life, as a lot of the things I love to do are *relatively* risky. But just before I was to fly back to Utah for my final contest, my father fell and broke his hip. I was overwhelmed with a sinking feeling, I could sense that his end was near, and saying goodbye to two of the most important components of my life was far too much to handle all at once. So I stayed silent.
I feel like two different people as I sit here writing this, attempting to make sense of it all. There are two distinct voices in my head: one saying "you're done" and the other saying "no, you're not." But fall is swiftly moving toward winter, and decision time is upon me.
I have grown up a professional skier. I didn't grow up first and then become a professional, I became a "professional skier" and through that, I eventually grew up. Despite my efforts to live a balanced life throughout my career, I identified deeply with the self-concept I've developed through this sport. Almost all formative experiences in my life have been trials and errors in my skiing career. It is not an easy thing for me to say goodbye to the sport that has molded me into the woman I am today; I like who I've become and hope to continue to evolve into a better person every year. I know how to do that through halfpipe skiing, I know what I have to offer in that realm. What do I have to offer outside of it?
Injuries and loss have taught me so much, but at the same time, I wonder if they've taught me enough, as I sit here struggling to "let go."
I'm still uncomfortable with the realization that I'm not entirely in control of outcomes, including injuries & death, but also of new opportunities and successes. I like to have my compass pointed toward my destination, so even if I get off track, I always know where I'm heading. Right now, it seems my compass is somewhere near a magnet... as I face an uncertain path. In vain, I try to keep doors of my past cracked open, but doing so keeps my heart and mind looking in the wrong direction, not focusing on the possibilities that lie ahead. And they are infinite.
The reality is, halfpipe skiing has already given me more than enough. Of course I can look at my career and see what remains to be achieved, but there will always be something left to be desired. Accomplishing a dream just gives birth to a new dream; I will never feel I've done enough in my career and at the same time, it's already been more than enough. I've achieved a great deal in my career and I've sacrificed a great deal along the way. It's time for a new way of living.
So with no further ado, I am officially announcing my retirement from professional halfpipe skiing.
There is so much weight behind those words, but just because I've chosen to retire (and it most certainly is my choice), doesn't mean I need to be done with skiing pursuits entirely. I'm scrapping the "only-way-I-knew-how-to-be-a-skier" model and starting over. I've asked myself exactly what it is that I want to do with skiing. And the answer is simple: just SKI!
I want to ski for myself without feeling the pressure to push myself out of my comfort zone day after day (maybe just on occasion). I want to ski with loved ones and I want to share skiing with others. I want to coach clinics and continue supporting the next generation of athletes climbing the ranks and navigating the crazy world of being a "professional" anything at an undeveloped age.
What I want to do in life is a touch less clear, but I'm going to roll with what I can grasp right now as the rest will unfold over time. I want to write, about skiing, about transitions, about hardship, about love and about chasing dreams even when they seem to slip out of reach. Some of the most cherished moments that I have from this life, are when YOU, my treasured readers, share how I've touched your hearts and made a genuine difference in your lives through my written word. So thank you.
Thank you to everyone reading this- to my sponsors old and new, this journey wouldn't have been possible without you. Thank you to my team & family. My coach Elana Chase, agent Mike Svenningsen, my mom & dad, Cathy & Paul, my sister & brother in-law, Cristina & Scott and to my husband, Chris--you all have held me up through your unconditional love.
Happy Holidays. Dream BIG!