Athlete spotlight: Assorted emotions
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Devastation. Triumph. Sadness. Accomplishment. Grief.
I have to prepare myself to run into any of these emotions on my road to success. Do I know what this road is going to look like? No, no one ever does. I have been thrown curveballs and had to adapt to the new task in front of me.
Ten months ago, I was laying on an operating table having my third ACL surgery, questioning if I wanted to continue to punish my body to follow my dreams. I have doctors telling me to reevaluate my decision, I have parents who hate seeing me upset and not being able to do what I love, I have friends who are sick of seeing me devastated and then I have myself. How many hours can I spend in physical therapy before giving up? How can so many tears be shed over something that I love?
Then it comes down to the biggest question of all: Is it worth it? Some days my mind says “no,” but a majority of the days it says “yes.” The feeling of flying through the air, feeling weightless, landing a new trick for the first time, the cold mountain air entering my lungs, and most of all the relationships and love that I have for the skiing community brings me back to my skis after eight months of rehab. That first chairlift ride reminds me that all the hard work and the long hours in the gym were 100 percent worth it.
Then another curveball is thrown my way, and a week ago I sat embracing friends and mourning the loss of our goddess, Sarah Burke. She was the leader for women’s skiing, and fought for our equality within the sport. She succeeded: Girls are now in the
X Games for both slopestyle and halfpipe, being equally paid, and most of all we are now a part of the 2014 Olympics.
The Olympics used to be off in the distance, and I never really saw myself headed in that direction. Now, thanks to Sarah, there is a community of people that have Sochi 2014 on their minds and it’s not leaving until they make it to Russia. We lost a hero, but have gained many lifelong friendships, love for a sport and love for one another.
Mikaela Shiffrin did a lot of soul searching after she didn’t win a medal and didn’t finish three of her five individual races at last year’s Beijing Olympics after entering the games amid enormous expectations.