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.