Repost- HardSnowLife

Recently my buddy over at HardSnowLife, Craige Marshall, (no relation), asked me to write a little something to give insight into my life as a ski racer. I have reposted the article below. The main focus was on my upbringing, so enjoy my own personal in-depth viewpoint. You can view the original article and the awesome site he’s has at hardsnowlife.com.

Swimming Upstream: a Tucker Marshall Story

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The majority of American ski racers know Tucker Marshall. Even if they don’t know him, they know of him. I’m sure the line, “Why doesn’t that old guy go to college?” has been passed around plenty of times in his direction. His path has been an uncommon one- he has chosen not to attend college in order to race independently for the last few years. As a 1990, he is certainly one of the oldest athletes in the U.S. who is still skiing and hasn’t attended college or been on the national team. But does he care what you think of him? Here is his answer…

December 1995-

It is 6am on a cold, early winter day. I roll over and, hands beneath my stomach, I try to conserve what body heat I have left. My dad must have slept through the night again, letting the wood stove that heats our house during the winters, go out. It can’t be much more than 45 degrees outside the thin blanket I have draped over me, and I know that if I roll over, most of the body heat that I have saved over the course of the night will quickly disperse.

Somewhere, my mom screams for me to get out of bed. I resist her efforts.

Winter 2006-

My brother Cody has made the US Ski Team, making it 3 for 4 in our family. I am the last, as I start my first season of international competitions. People ask me, now more than ever, if I feel pressure being the youngest Marshall. I always understood the sentiment, but never sympathized with it. I knew that the path I lead would be unique, and that I would have to find my own way.

December 1995-

For the third or fourth time now, my mom screams for me to get out of bed. I rebel against her, and the sport that requires me to wake up on weekends before the sun rises. My 6-year-old self implores my mom to let me sleep. I assure her that I don’t even like skiing.

“Tucker,” my mother says to me, all frenetic berating now gone from her. “If you don’t want to do this anymore, if you don’t like skiing, than tell me. You can stop right now.”

I groan, climbing out of my small single bed, more springs than cushion, and duck my head to avoid the slanting roof of my bedroom, making quickly for my suit, pants, jacket, and gloves.

She had given me a choice, but not really. I had heard the condemnation in her voice.

Spring 2007-

Completing my second year F.I.S without any improvement to my World Rank is a harsh ending to the season. My friends gear up for one more year of high school, and while I said that I follow my own path, I happen to fall into what my brothers and sister have done before me. After homeschooling is done I will set my focus toward my ski-racing career and set thoughts of college on a back burner. Well… not so much a back burner as a far corner in a dark, dark room somewhere.

My friends beseech me to reconsider. When I ask one of them why, he replies to me, “Because, I don’t want to see you working at McDonalds when you grow up.” A bit condescending, but no worse than I had received in the past, somewhat ostracized for my life decisions growing up.

Looking back on the choice that my mom gave me nearly two decades ago now, I realize that her offer was sincere, and I see that it was really the first time I was ever faced with the decision of if I wanted to continue what I was doing or not. A choice I considered, and wrestled with, exponentially over the years.

Without going to school, I was certainly outside of the social norm in society. On the other hand, growing up outside of that framework and being teased for years about who you are, it really forces you to turn inward to look at yourself and ask if you really like who you are as a person and where you are headed. It eventually made me more confident and eliminated a lot of insecurities I ever had about myself.

My thoughts were also on the US Ski Team and how they look for athletes they could develop, and build. I believed that collegiate skiing was the death knell for a lot of great athletes. I see now that my current age has nullified that theory considering my class has already moved through college, and some of them are still competing quite successfully today.

But if I had gone to school, I often wonder if I would still be racing, or if I would have taken an easier route.

Those who don’t have a stigma against my path often find it inspiring, saying how brave it is of me to stick it all out there and do what you love, regardless of the uncertain future. To be perfectly honest, I think I took what I considered the easier road. We fear the unknown, and for me in the family that I grew up in, the path I chose was certainly the one more traveled.

July 2014

I am still criticized today for my lack of formal education. From people I hardly know, to close friends that I have known for years, they all talk to me of the wisdom in getting a higher education. It is not that I disagree with their words but everybody makes their own path through this world, and I think a lot of people don’t follow the path they really feel pulled to.

In my opinion the McDonalds comment was flawed at its core. It was meant to inspire fear, implying that I would grow up, and live an unhappy life because of financial instability. But how do we measure a successful life, if not by happiness itself? We need money to live, but which comes first? Is it finance or joy? The two are not always directly correlated.

I may have taken the path more traveled in my case. One that was less mired in doubt for me, but I hardly regret it, or the person that it has made me. I know that 6-year-old me did not fully grasp the weight of climbing out of bed that day, but I am glad he did.

 

Tucker is one of the brave ones. He has so far successfully stiff-armed the real world with only a dream and the desire to be the greatest Marshall in history. Besides me, of course. He has no chance there.

Follow his accomplishments and check out some of his rad video blogs on his website.

A True Summer Anecdote

It’s summer.

The birds are chirping and the air is heavy with humidity, but there is a slight breeze rustling the leaves. My sister Chelsea and I look out over the Middlebury pond half way up the Snow Bowl.

I pretend not to notice the beautiful blond scholar sitting and studying her books close to the waters edge, not 10 feet from me, as she similarly pretends that she hasn’t seen the sweaty mess that has just stumbled into her life. It’s an intense emotional dance we do; each pretending like our lives didn’t just change forever.

Chelsea seems to be ignorant of the firestorm of emotions volleying back and forth between my future girlfriend and me, and she turns to walk away along the shore, thus continuing our hike. I sigh giving one last look to blondie, realizing our worlds were too different, and that it never would have worked out anyway. My sister, now navigating down a steep embankment, suddenly loses her footing and makes an ungainly entrance into the muddy waters that surround the shore.

As Chelsea silently curses and pleads with me to help her out of her out of the dilemma she has put herself in, I quickly turn on my heel and make sure I was the only one privy to this harrowing scene.

I left Chelsea there to surreptitiously extricate herself from the murky depths, as I quickly made for my own, more graceful exit. Making for the woods I offered my would be ex one last half salute/wave as we locked eyes for the last time. I turn around just in time to come face to face with a protruding branch.

My head stops dead, but my feet keep on moving, and suddenly I am horizontal with the ground.

Not so much embarrassed as mortified, I flip around onto my stomach; do a 180-degree spin, and army crawl into the concealment of the shrubbery.

A cruel ending, to a tragic love story.

Cochrans Glacier

It is always awesome to have training at a place like Cochrans, who’s owners have a passion for the sport that outshines the spring sun that melts their snow. We were offered a couple days of amazing training here on the east coast glacier located just off interstate 89. Cold nights led to some incredibly hard conditions where we got in as many runs as made us content with family members running snowmobiles to get us to the top. Incredible! Thank you Cochrans!

Cochrans Glacier. April 18 SL from Tucker Marshall on Vimeo.

Pictures of my most recent travels to come, and I am also hard at work on two more webisodes from the season. Stay tuned!

-Tucker

Lutsen

Lutsen, you are one magical place. You take kids starting in the 50s, and 60s, let them kick my ass (bib 3) out of flip, (31st), and have them score some of the best races of their lives. I wish I could say I wasn’t trying, but in truth, I brought the focus and intensity I would to an Olympic run, and admirably/depressingly, I wrestled my way to a hard fought 28th place.

I was left to wallow/trying to sell my skis in the parking lot, which inevitably reminded me of the steepest grade on the race hill, so I packed it in and headed home.

I shook my fist in fury/defeat at you as I drove away with my ego sorely bruised, and a promise on my lips to never, ever, return to such a forsaking place of my career.

More racers however were the opposite. They departed the famous Lutsen with a smile lighting up their faces, a career best (or four) under their belts, and are already looking into flights to come back at the end of next season.

To them I say… Hell. Yes. Congrats, and keep that momentum going into next season. You have the points, now gather that confidence and back them up.

To all the naysayers out there, chew on this.

Many words have been used to describe this hill and these races, the least of which being, “give away”. Honestly, it would be easy for me to name them the same; it would certainly save me some face. But the truth is that it is a generalization that is wholly inaccurate.

“Give away,” seems to insinuate that any of the top seeded skiers were purposefully slowing down to give the back of the packers a better shot at scoring. Refer to paragraph one as to my commitment to these races, and I can assure you that my fellow top seeded skiers shared the same dedication. Honestly, I wish bib 62 had slowed down for me! God dammit, I needed to score! Come on man…

Logan Mackie, (bib 62) had other intentions than helping this guy out though. Logan, whom previously had a world rank of 1,683 with a F.I.S GS point profile of 54, raced to finish 11th and 16th at the GS races. This will drop his points into the 20s and lower his WR by about 1,200.

Colin Martens starting 57th finished 10th and 13th respectively in the same two races, dropping him from 50 points, to 28 in just two races. That’s incredibly sick.

I realize some of these words are redolent of The Race of Dreams, but I said it then, and I will say it again. It is always deserved. Logan and Colin didn’t beat me because I was lax with my focus. They kicked my ass because they skied that hill a hell of a lot better than me, and many others.

Lutsen takes a different set of skills to be fast. It is not the usual steep, anything goes sort of hill. I can make sizeable mistakes on a hill like Main Street at Stowe Mountain, because it is a steep, technical hill where you can make up time at the next roll over. Lutsen however, offers no quarter when it comes to mistakes. If you don’t know how to be subtle with pressure and don’t know exactly where to put that pressure, you will be bleeding time the whole way down.

Some people understand these subtle nuances, and others are masters at it. It is those masters of this uniquely difficult terrain that prevailed last week and capitalized on what we were all striving for.

Hats off guys, and goodbye forever, Lutsen.

-Tucker

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NorAm Finals

Well, I’ve been up here in good ol’ Alberta for about a week now. News flash, NorAm finals are difficult! Not just the competition, but the hills are incredibly challenging as well.

Top of GS, with quite the view

The slaloms takes place at the Canadian Olympic Park which is right in the city of Calgary. Thanks to my Instagramming friends, you can see how epic it is up there.

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Today was the first slalom race, and tomorrow will be the second and final NorAm final before I get on a plane and head to US Nationals in Squaw Valley, California. Here is a second run from today. I think it might have played if I hadn’t hiked… Dammit!

NorAm Finals, COP. March 2014 from Tucker Marshall on Vimeo.

Anyway, I think I am ready to kick some ass tomorrow and bring my A game. Lets do this!

Stay classy,

-Tucker

Andrew McNealus and Robby Kelley

On our way to the COP

Sean Higgins and I getting some rays after the Giant-Slalom

Nolan Kasper checking out the score board

Robby Kelley likes SkiFlicks.com, and so should you!