Friday, June 1, 2012

Spirit of Sarah Scholarship

My application for the Spirit of Sarah Scholarship at Momentum Camps in Whistler; its a long one, but a long overdue thank you to Sarah. Dreaming of snow every day, off-season's rough.

Sarah Burke was my alarm clock; not in the “I’m not a morning person” kind of way, but more of a life-charging jolt into consciousness. I’m not a pre-pubescent freeski phenom or a “since the day I could walk” competitive skier. Truthfully when I was little I wanted to be a Unicorn when I grew up, not have a unicorn… BE a unicorn. Lucky for me I escaped a potential lifetime of ridicule when I switched my focus to Lacrosse in 7th grade. It was what everyone was doing and truth is I picked it up fast… like varsity state-champion team as a freshman fast. Lacrosse was a love; I knew if I worked hard enough it would shoot me into a good college and of course a good job, and those expectations were seared into everything I did. For a while I bought into it, it was easy when everyone around me was so caught up in it you barely had time to focus on reality while you were in a tornado of the conventional. Then there was skiing. In Denver, all of the extra-curriculars, clubs and varsity sports were part of a world I knew I would have to enslave myself to, the expected route. But skiing was my release. Not in the way of “oh I can fly and I feel free and weightless etc etc”; yes, skiing brought me those things but more importantly it quieted my head, shut up the side of me that constantly battled with perfection and achieving the best in everything. Skiing let be breathe, it let me just BE. Doing things for other people is something I am passionate about, I volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House in Denver through high school, built houses in Costa Rica and served as a mentor for Oakland elementary school kids through college; but, having that time skiing granted me made me a better person.

         Now, I refuse to throw any sort of a sob story your way so I’ll fast forward to when my alarm clock finally went off. Again, lucky for me, I was recruited to play Division 1 lacrosse at UC Berkeley in San Francisco California. The experience of attending a top university as a top athlete was rewarding and enlightening especially when I came into my sophomore season. I was fresh off my 3rd knee surgery and ready to finally let go and play the game I loved with the people I loved. But the weekend before our first game of the season I knew there was something I had to do before all of the madness that is collegiate athletics set in…. I needed to ski. So I contracted a mysterious illness and flew back to Colorado having told only my closest friends the truth, all just to get one last face-shot before impending lacrosse season. That weekend changed my life. See, up until then I had grown up watching Warren Miller films, MSP and any other ski movie my brother could find. I’d watch them any time I had a computer at my disposal, not because “I wanted to be a skier when I grew up” but because it was the only thing I wanted to do, like an innate craving my body would go on autopilot in order to satisfy. I never saw it as a life path or something I could do “when I grew up”, it was just something I knew I needed. That Saturday in Vail, my brother and I had riped the mountain apart. The blanket… no down comforter of fresh powder afforded us one of the best weekends of skiing I have ever had. I tried and landed my first backflip, dropped a 20ft cliff and skied so hard my legs shook the entire drive home (a luxury I didn’t have thanks to the demand of lacrosse). That lacrosse season was the best season I ever had. At the end of it I endured yet another knee surgery, putting me at a lucky 4 in 4 years. But instead of worrying about lacrosse after coming off of a lights-out season, I was worried about skiing. My hobby, and the only thing I had ever done for the right reasons.

      Watching Sarah’s segment in MSP’s Push/Pull while lying on the couch snapped the buzzer on that alarm clock. She was doing it, blazing her own trail, doing what she loved, living her life with a positive glow so bright I could feel her from the other side of a computer screen. THAT was it, THAT was what I was supposed to do. Long and the short, I trained in the Fall with my team, prepared the underclassman attackers to take my position and I stepped into a black abyss of unknown. I left the top public University in the nation, waved goodbye to the Division 1 scholarship, called Elana Chase and told her what I wanted to do and begged her to invest in this crazy old lacrosse player who was dying to take on sport and Queen of halfpipe skiing. By no means did I deliver this season but the people I met and the lessons I learned from this industry have made me want to improve more as a skier and, more importantly, become a better person. I’ve been reminded to take deep breaths, love the people around you, and still keep that fire inside to kick ass. But not once have I had to stop and reflect that what I’m doing is “the right thing to do” because for the first time I’m not doing something for expectations or approval or the people around me… I’m doing it for all the right reasons. I’ve come to realize that there is no way for me to put onto paper how much this opportunity would mean to me or how I’m different from your other applicants; so I wont ramble on much further. I know the talent is vast and Sarah inspired (understatement of the century I know) a new generation of park skiers, even the old ladies like me. But I don’t want to be Sarah. She was/ is one-of-a-kind and truth be told no one will ever hold a candle to her as an athlete and human being. What I am saying is that I know I am supposed to pick up where she left off. I want to push, support, and motivate those around me to be better, faster, stronger than the day, month, season before. Granted I’m new to this sport and yes need some time to toughen up as an individual athlete, but what I feel when I talk about, think about or take part in skiing is the purest form of happiness I know it is what I am supposed to do… I’m finally awake and ready to send it;
Thank you Sarah.

Big thanks again to my family and sponsor Icelantic for the continued support in this crazy journey; you push me to be better every day and will never know the depth of my gratitude.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


The emotion itself and the concept behind it are those that make you stop to think. Whether it’s a spider, dark hallway, or the idea of failure, fear can define us and cage us if we let it. As a senior we fear the unknown; where we are going to live and who we will work for when that bittersweet commencement speech is finally given. We fear letting our families down, not meeting expectations, living in our parents basement or a box under some overpass with a bum named Jimmy. As a halfpipe skier, we fear failure, loss, and, among other things, injury. Yesterday was a weird/ gut-wrenching day for the women’s ski halfpipe world; two iconic women shared their worst day of the year. Jen Hudak (USA) blew out her knee on a jump at the base of the halfpipe at Breck, and Sarah Burke (CAN) remains in a coma at the University of Utah hospital following an injury sustained at the Park City halfpipe earlier yesterday. Women, role models and ambassadors of the sport, performing routine tricks that changed the fate of their seasons in the blink of an eye… Fear.

I’ve had a couple rough crashes, bumps, bruises, and tweaks in my short career (thus far) as a pipe skier, but never have I sat back and wrestled with the idea of fear in this sport. We see and hear about traumatic crashes that alter the lives of their victims, but today struck a nerve. This concept of fear alone is mind-boggling… Fears may protect us from being reckless in action or decision, but overcoming them can be liberating beyond any fathomable feeling, where’s the balance? Perhaps the most terrifying part of this whole thing is blind fear… not knowing what to be scared of until it has beaten you down and stands over you, reminding you that anything can go wrong at any time. Maybe this causes people to board up their homes and lock themselves inside, but it can also be the blessing that pushes you to “live like you were dying”.

Coming into this year (all 10 days of it) I came into to the new chapter of this adventure, Fear. I am moving beyond the chapter of straight airs in the pipe or thoughtless spinning onto an airbag and find myself face-to-face with the reality of competitions and stringing together physical and mental concepts this sport has taught me thus far. On a day like today, the pain and bruising on both sides of my hips seem miniscule in the grand scheme of the sport and what we as female athletes are pushing ourselves to do. I feel a sense of growth… acknowledging what any rational human would deem as insane and continuing to embrace my love of the sport and innate competitive drive to make me feel calm, prepared, controlled… at peace. I am still learning how to trust the walls of the pipe and the muscle memory I am continuing to build every day, remain patient with my take-offs and trick sets, and finally come to terms with the fact that this journey is/ will be a process (and a delicate one at that).

I’m finding the positives that come from the feeling and acknowledgment of Fear … by overcoming it we learn about and trust ourselves; we feel empowered even if we don’t succeed on the first try. I am grateful for the achievements and set backs in this seasons training (so far), the trials and tribulations remind us that we can do it (whatever that “it” may be) but sometimes patience and perseverance are the key to growing as an athlete and person. I am coming to respect the difficulty of this sport and the process. My goals remain high (lets be honest), but my timeline has become flexible, sometimes you can’t rush things…. I am slowly learning to accept and respect that.

I head to Whistler for the North Face Open this coming weekend, and could not be more anxious. Between feeling unprepared and over pressured (all self-inflicted) it has been CRUTIAL to continue broadening my perspective for the season/ my career. I am stoked to cruise Canada and push myself as a freeski athlete by finding that perfect balance between fear and fearlessness (that wasn’t as eloquent as I had hoped). I am so grateful for the continued support, the people I am meeting, and the fact that I get to wake up and click into my skis every day. Sometimes fear is stepping outside of what’s expected and doing what is right for YOU. I fear not amounting to anything, and that fear alone pushes me to test my boundaries everyday.

Enough mindless, cheesy banter, things are going well up here; ups and downs as usual but I’m learning something new everyday whether it’s a trick, grab, friend, or worthless riddle. Hope everyone is having a WONDERFUL New Year and living everyday to the fullest; New Year, new perspective, new life lessons. Updates will follow this competition weekend, I am ssoooo stoked to see lax season start up! Sending positive vibes as usual.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

One Down

Officially back in the mountains for the winter and contest season has officially started!!

USASA was this past weekend, and while its a small competition it was awesome to get a competition under my belt especially before the RevTour on Wednesday!!! I walked away with my first (hopefully of many) 1st place finish and a little gold medal to top it off! We were given 2 runs and after throwing down an OK first run I was antsy to try the cork 9 that I was convinced I could pull off even after a 72 hour hiatus finishing finals and NOT sleeping. Long and the short... it ended horribly and have attached a video.

But no need to dwell on the negative, today was another day of training. Started at Copper then headed over to the bag jump (referred to as the BJ/ Air Boob) and ended up having the whole thing to myself with Elana/ "E". Still felt off from the fall yesterday and left a bit frustrated but overall still learning things I need to tweak and continue to push for. I ended up chilling in Vail with E and two of the kids who are living with here so they don't have to make the commute from Aspen, one of which is my "good luck charm". Made smoothies and waffles with them and watched ski videos from the pro's at Xgames, to the US olympic aerials team on the water ramps in UT. The take-off is EVERYTHING in this sport, everything else comes with practice and a better understanding of the territory but the take off is KEY so def. will be locking that down to stomp a sick run for Wednesday!! Its been so nice getting some time to get to know the boys on the team; both they and the coaches are awesome (understatement of the year), so supportive and positive and talented its not a bad deal skiing everyday with clones of my little bro. I'm so happy to be back in Colorado but really looking forward to a bit of down time to sleep and catch-up from a hectic semester and demanding training.

Back at it tomorrow with the rest of the crew, don't go out until 11:30 so I get my first day of sleeping in!!!! Ah its the small things, hope everyone is having a wonderful winter break, all I want for Christmas is a WINNNN, RevTour here I come!

Sending Positive Vibes per usual :)


Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Again I am in the white patterny pants for and dark top for the airbag video. The dub 12 is at the end at around 5/6 mins? And the cork 9 was the first attempt, so close!! ENJOY!!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Bag Jump Footage!

Here's the footage of the bag jump with the French team from Saturday! I am (the only girl, it shows) wearing a black jacket with white patterny pants, Kevin Rolland (#1 halfpipe skier) is in the blue jumpsuit, kid rips. ENJOY!!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Letting Go

Back up in Breck!!

Jumping back and forth for school has proven to be a test for my focus to finish up, but being back in the mountains is AMAZING! I barely made my flight back Friday morning, thank you Emily, and from the second I touched down in Colorado its been non-stop.

Friday was moving day/ dry land training to prepare for the hectic weekend. Being back in the Breck house is so nice but I forget how lonely it can be living up here alone! I guess the good thing about this season is the insanely busy schedule I have. Saturday was jammed packed with a 9-1 bag jump session at Vail followed by an afternoon riding the pipe at Copper until last chair at 4:00. The bag jump is this crazy looking feature that looks like two halfpipe slices side by side, with a huge airbag at the base of the walls they share. Really confusing but its amazing for training as you can simulate your first hit and throw any crazy trick without the fear of absolutely obliterating every bone in your body. The Saturday session was my first day with the team and we were joined by the French National Freestyle team and arguably the best men's pipe skier in the world Kevin Rolland. As if that wasn't intimidating enough it was also the first day Elana (my god send of a coach) saw me ski. Long story short my first hit I just went as high as possible with a nice tweaked out mute grab to get a feel for the feature, second hit was a cork 9.... Now I realize this is all a different language to most who read this but a cork 9 is an off-axis 2.5 spin trick that most of the pro women are still attempting to perfect. I wrote it off to beginners luck and after watching the boys throwing doubles like it was no one's business, I went for my third hit. Cork 10... I landed a little bit disoriented but was met with some insanely excited cheering from my coach and when I got to the top/ drop-in point I got some smiles and approval from both the kids on my team and the French boys. Its cheesy but pushing that hard and going that far out of your comfort zone makes for a indescribable feeling; chatting with the french men made for some entertainment as well, I felt like I was talking to gods you would not believe the tricks they can throw.

That afternoon was predominately focused on my "pipe mechanics". Hitting a feature as hard as you can because you know there is no way you can get hurt gives you some confidence that the ice walls of the pipe have no problem shutting down. I did NOT throw the spins at Copper, but instead worked on remembering how to ride and air out of the 22 ft monster that is my new BFF. A couple of the US kids were there in the afternoon, typically the morning is a mad house since Copper is the only halfpipe open in CO at present. Of course every one of them knows Elana so I was shaking hands with halfpipe gods and trying desperately not to start hyperventilating and screaming like a preteen at a Justin Bieber concert.

Sunday was a long day at Copper. 9-2:30 doesn't seem like a long day but hiking/ skiing the pipe/ making laps to keep your legs warm in what felt like antarctic climate def. keeps the heart pumping. It was another day of lifting out of the pipe and breaking me of the bad habits I accumulated after only one season of riding pipe. I felt my amplitude continue to grow along with my confidence and occasionally frustration. The halfpipe is the therapy I have always needed because most of my Type A character flaws just won't cut it. Patience, trust, and "letting go" seem to be recurring words of wisdom difficult for my crazy personality to wrap any understanding around... but I am getting there.

Today is Day 1 of the Grand Prix competition which I opted out of so the pipe is closed for competitors only. The weather gods must like me though because we keep dipping in and out of the negative's and I would rather go on a date with Rosie Odonnel than brave that kind of cold. Sooo, today is dedicated to dryland and a desperate attempt to study (currently failing more than a penguin attempting flight). Tomorrow is a dryland and tramp morning followed by either another bag jump session or some quality time at my fav place Woodward. I'm hungrier than ever for that RedBull helmet and the spot at the Xgames so its pedal to the medal, I've kissed my final grades goodbye and come to terms with reality, this is where I am supposed to be and I could not be happier. Can't wait to see everyone one last time over finals week, best of luck to everyone studying!! Sending positive vibes.



PS. Sponsor update!! Had a great meeting with Icelantic over Thanksgiving Break and I could not be more excited to work with the company. They hooked me up with some sweet gear and some new sticks on the way and are so supportive of my goals and coming season schedule. They have some sweet projects in the mix as well including a documentary I hope to get some sick shots to contribute to! They have photographers and filmers on deck so anytime I need help putting some shots on the desks of future sponsors, they are there backing me up! The company is sick I highly recommend checking out their skis and keeping an eye out for my debut on the "TEAM" tab!! Everything is falling into placeeeee :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Forgot how to College...

As usual my consistency in posting is not the best; however things have been quite busy!

I am back at Cal now for what will be my last semester on campus. There are still units I will have to compete in order to graduate (what was I thinking Freshman and Sophomore year) so Hello Online classes/ a summer session! As if life back up in Breck won't be busy enough!! I AM SO EXCITED FOR SNOW!!

In so many words being back at Cal has been good. Its nice to be back in the Bay Area among the people who really contributed/ are the epitome of an amazing college experience. That being said my focus on school started out strong but is being weaned away by the thoughts of snow and all of this year's ski movie releases!! Not to mention the wonderful email update from Keystone alerting me that opening day is in approx. 7 weeks, how is anyone supposed to focus with yet another season right around the corner!? I have ssooo much work to do!

Being back in the school swing has been a difficult adjustment especially with a course load of 2 full-time students... but hey its all worth it; and when I hit the podium we can all laugh at the 5 finals and 2 thesis papers I will have had to write in order to get there! TOTALLY NOT that funny right now but the classes are interesting and I am continuing to gain more perspective. The past ski season, summer in New Zealand and time back at Cal has helped me to step back and reflect on the path I have chosen. Its actually quite astounding how quickly the "best 4 years of your life" have flown by; but more shocking has been the personal growth.

I've been hitting the tramps at least 3 times a week and working to get my core strength back along with the air awareness I will need once I sack up and start trying doubles!! I am looking forward to Thanksgiving break and FINALLY dropping back into the pipe but I am also trying to see this time as a lesson in patience and mental strength to remain steadfast in the belief that this goal is going to happen because I can make it happen. Most of the frustration comes from seeing and hearing about all of the training/ resources the pros have access to; but keeping my focus set in the here and now is the next step in preparing for the career ahead. I am so happy to be among friends again, and have come to realize that I have officially fallen in love with this sport and the crazy/ frustrating/ rewarding process that comes along with it. Even though it has pushed me to a very jam packed final semester people go to crazy lengths for the people/ things they love.. and I am crazy, soooo I'd say that's about all the explanation necessary! Cheesy way to end a Monday night but my procrastination needs an outlet so maybe there will be more blogging?

I am also taking any bored volunteers to come up and video me on the tramps! Should put a little edit together so that Red Bull can start sizing the helmet and drafting up the contract they don't yet know they will be handing to me :)
God growing up is scary... that's it for now, nothing too interesting to report yet but midterms are around the corner and I have 5 all in that one week. Survival of the fittest? Sending out positive vibes to everyone as usual.