Four years ago a single tree stopped me from falling off a sixty foot cliff. Last year my brother dug me out of a tree well just as my lungs were running out of oxygen. Two concussions, three broken thumbs, a hyper-extended knee, and a back that will hurt for the rest of my life later, there is still nothing I would rather do in this world than go skiing.
I have no memories of learning how to ski. My dad had me in ski boots before I turned three, and by the time I was eight or nine years old my brother and I were already exploring the mountains by ourselves. Raised under intense pressure to succeed in school and in sports, skiing has always been there to set me free. There is no winner or loser, no A or F; when I am skiing it is just me and the mountain. I have flown to British Columbia for a week of cat skiing and I have driven eight hours to ski rails for a day in Vermont. I have skied in every state with ski mountains except New Mexico. My passion for skiing even led me to create my own ski glove company when I was just a freshman in high school. The experiences I have had and the people I have met through the sport of skiing inspire me every day. One of my friends was paralyzed from the neck down in a skiing accident a few years ago. Instead of turning against the sport, he continued to embrace it and now edits ski movies for a living. Every time I ski I think about him and the thousands of other skiers who have died or suffered life-changing injuries doing what they love. Whether looking for that last bit of powder or perfecting a trick in the park, we are all out there for the same reason--to be free. Free from the pressures and constraints of work or school, free from the control of a boss or teacher. There are no assignments, no tests, no applications. My mind is truly clear when I am skiing, concentrating on nothing but the next turn and the turn after that.
I have suffered painful injuries and had near-death experiences, but I keep coming back. I know I will be skiing until my body no longer allows it, and then for a little longer still. Skiing is ingrained in me, a part of my life that I simply cannot live without and one that continues to set me free today.
Why do I do what I do? Because nothing else in the world makes me feel so free