As if that statement needs any follow up explanation, I am going to elaborate anyway.
Ski racers are many things. We are committed, focused, driven, and resilient certainly! We put in endless hours for not even two minutes of racing. Skiers are an especially devoted group and our mental fortitude is probably some of the best in the world. And of course, we have our egos too. We are also, when it comes right down to it, typically a bunch of freeloaders.
Let me explain.
Skiing is expensive, (as I have mentioned numerous times in the past), and when you reach the stage that I am at, you are more or less always looking for the best, and cheapest option. Since I know just about everyone in the ski racing world by now, I am usually lucky enough to know a family who has a residence at most of the stops on our ski racing tour.
I would like to dedicate this entry to those families who have supported me along the way this year, and I’d also like to give thanks to those who stood out for me this season as exemplary mothers!
These are but a few examples of some of the most spectacular moms out there, all of whom have kids who I compete against.
The first shout out goes to Heidi Theis. When Thanksgiving came around last fall and everyone went back to their respective families, I stayed in Colorado since my home was half way across the county. I, and my New Zealand roommate, spent the holidays instead with a teammate of ours (Tyler Theis) and his family.
They welcomed us in and before we knew it we were part of the tumult that is family life during the holidays. They added us to the fun/craziness, while Heidi gave us beds, cooked amazing food, and made Thanksgiving everything I could have hoped for without spending it with my own family.
And as if that wasn’t enough, I came back for three or four days just before Christmas for some races. Once again she gave me a roof over my head, more good memories, and introduced me to what seemed like every family in Steamboat at an awesome holiday party. Heidi, you are awesome!
Next up, I would like to thank Becky Ankeny. I was coming back from a couple of races in Lacrosse, Wisconsin and due to my “save every penny policy” I had a solid flight departing at 6AM. Her son Michael, who was also racing, kindly offered me to stay at their place for the night. It was my first time meeting his mom and after discussing my terrible itinerary with Becky, saying that I could just take a cab she said no, insisting that she would take me. At 3:30 in the morning. She explained that she had work to do anyway, (who works at 4 in the morning?!) but I was touched by her generosity, and yes, I felt terrible for her having to drop someone off at the airport, whom she met not even 12 hours ago. It was incredibly kind, and I won’t forget it.
Beth Bak is one of the most hospitable people that I know. When her son was racing she would not only invite his teammates but also ask if their parents needed a place to stay. Even though her kids do not race anymore, I still take her up on her hospitality when I am in the neighborhood which has probably resulted in me staying at their house more than her kids do in the winter!
Nancy Marshall, (no relation… we think), took me in during spring series this year. Again, this was a first time meeting between the two of us but before I departed, she sent me on my way with literally a massive bag of home cooked meals to take on to my next series of races so I wouldn’t go hungry.
Gwyn Engkleton is someone that I have never met before. Again, another parent of a racer but our paths have never crossed. When I wrote about my sciatic nerve damage a few months ago on this blog, she reached out to me through email, offered advice, and even said she would send me something to help with the healing. I feel blessed to have such love directed my way, and the whole world is blessed to have mothers such as these.
And of course, there is my own dear, sweet, mother. She raised four kids which is impressive in itself. She taught us how to love ourselves, and the people around us. Taught us right from wrong, helped us when we were down, talked us through thick and thin without ever wavering. She has made all of our lives incredible, given us every opportunity in life so that in the end, we know which path leads to happiness. Love you mom.
So yes, ski racers can be called many things, strong headed, focussed, resilient, driven, and many more things besides. But not one of us is without a deep sense of gratitude for those who help us along the way. Moms.
Happy Mothers Day everyone,