Ski racing, from my personal perspective of 15 years training, coaching, communicating and managing in the sport, deserves to be revered in all of its toughness, catharsis and rugged glory.
Imagine yourself throwing your spandex-clad, shivering, fully tensed body at speeds of up to 130 kph down stupendously large, relatively frictionless and steep surfaces with trees (instant death) mere feet from you. You are on narrow, wooden fiberglass encased boards held onto your plastic molded feet by bindings no larger than your fist. The only contact point that you can use to slow you down is one millimeter of soft metal alongside a lush plastic core. Your head is protected by two inches of styrofoam, rubber and plastic, and you are viewing this all through a lens that could fog up or fail any minute.
The only thing protecting you from your doom is a plastic braided safety net put together by hundreds of volunteers. If you are lucky, a team of professionals will inflate dozens of space-grade sacs of air to protect you from lift towers that have been assembled by helicopters.
ht="300" /> They even pretend to be firefighters for two days, minus the nice warm fire to counteract the water freezing them. All this just so your track is smooth!
Then, imagine the scenario above amidst variable wind, temperature, lighting and snow conditions. Every day is a complete gamble for your personal safety.
Don’t forget to consider the tens of thousands of dollars it costs you to participate at a high level from the age of 13 onward.
Realize that even if you make a national team and win World Cup races, you will still make less money per year at the world stage than Professional Bowlers.
You might even become the sole and hands-down best athlete in Canada for the most revered discipline (the downhill). This is your job now, and your life is dedicated to your job. There is no vacation time, no family life and definitely no kids. You live out of a suitcase and remain nomadic until you retire at a very young age, having missed out on college or university with your friends. You see the world but are always at work, always looking to maintain your business presence and always literally and figuratively, on edge.
Sadly, you may not make the Olympic team one year due to an unfortunate work-related injury. Your income is greatly reduced, and your body is now in need of repair. You will most likely have to raise your own funds to pay for experts and facilities to rehabilitate yourself. Not to mention the food, rent and incidental expenses that are creeping up.
You might recover from this costly challenge and win a silver medal at the World Cup. The team might accept you after this, but fluctuations in government funding and sponsorships hang your career in the balance. You take all opportunities that drift your way, constantly in a state of motion.
If you happen to become monetarily successful like a handful of star athletes, you might have to deal with the FIS body and its increasing standards, fees and red tape. You might have to regretfully dismiss your primary source of income (your sponsors) if this organization wants to arbitrarily (or deliberately) level the playing field. You know this only makes the sport more unequal as the racers with incredible family wealth will not be affected as devastatingly, but you plug on anyway.
Also be sure to be in the gym doing every type of workout you can imagine for hours every single day. Extend this gruelling regime to all seasons to ensure you don’t wreck yourself.
Ski racing is without a doubt hard on the mind, body and wallet. Not only are the above conditions experienced by most athletes, there are even those who suffer from mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and eating disorders to name a few. add this shooter to the mixture of other variables and voila, you have just chugged a delicious but strong Stress Cocktail.