A family friend asked me last week why I am still ski racing.
It’s a very good question and one I had to think seriously about two years ago when I was deciding whether or not to commit to race independently on the World Cup circuit. The first part of this decision was to think about if and why I wanted to keep going.
Ski racing has been a pretty defining part of my life for as long as I can remember. Reflecting back on my early years there wasn’t much thought that went into the decision. I simply did it because it’s what my family did and my competitive nature made me give it my all and work to be as fast as possible. I had small struggles with deciding between ski races and training over birthday parties or normal high school events, but I always chose skiing. I remember struggling a little bit more with whether or not to give up soccer, but again I chose skiing and never had any regrets. Once I got to college, decisions to sacrifice things for skiing felt a little heavier, but the outcome was always the same. (I will note that school and education never needed to be one of these sacrifices, which I am very grateful for in retrospect.) Skiing was what I did, and I wanted to commit to that as much as possible to become the fastest racer I could.
Despite this consistent commitment, I never really stopped to think about why I was continuing to commit to skiing. I knew that it felt good to work really hard towards something and with skiing there was always another challenge. This fueled me for a long time. But two years ago, the decision got much more serious as the price tag to continue the dream at the World Cup and Olympic level rose drastically, and so I was forced to think more deeply about this choice. I had a similar period of reflection after last season.
The truth is there are a number of reasons I am continuing to ski race, some more tangible than others. I will do my best to try to convey them to you.
Ironically, the biggest factor today is consistent with what was sub-consciously pushing me to commit for so many years. Skiing challenges me in so many ways. It pushes me outside my comfort zone and forces me to grow to survive. From the relentless crashes, disappointments, setbacks and obstacles, skiing has also taught me many important lessons. I’ve learned to not let the fear of failure intimidate me from trying, I’ve learned how to re-evaluate what success means to me, how to get back up after failure, how to take my career into my own hands and how to be resilient in all possible ways. I have learned to be self sufficient, but also how to work with people who I don’t see eye to eye with (a very challenging feat for me), and most recently skiing has taught me that I can’t do everything alone, and how to be humble enough to ask for help.
Taking a step back, I also realized that because skiing is what I have committed so much time and energy to for so long, I have a unique opportunity to work towards being one of the best in the world at it. I feel strongly that I owe it to myself and the amazing community supporting me to continue to work towards World Cup success. And I firmly believe that I have the ability to compete with the best in the world.
I also feel that I have a lot left to give back to the ski racing world. I think there is a lot of potential for current World Cup athletes to share their experience and lessons with the next generation, in addition to using their platform to promote growth in sport for as many kids as possible. This is a huge part of my mission this year, and I am really excited to have already made meaningful steps towards encouraging young athletes (especially girls) to find empowerment through sport and to chase their dreams.
Finally, I still absolutely love ski racing. Racing as an Independent athlete last season was the best year I have ever had skiing for a number of reasons, and I cannot wait to make this one even better.
Reflecting on why I am continuing to ski race helped bring clarity to what my intentions for this year are. I also realized that I don’t know if it matters so much what it is we’re doing, but more why we’re doing it and what we’re hoping to accomplish by committing to it. There are so many worthwhile pursuits in the world, (and I certainly hope to find other exciting ones when my time with skiing is over,) but for now I am still as excited and motivated as ever to continue this journey. To continue to challenge myself to grow. To continue to learn as much as possible during the ride and to share that with others. To continue to push myself to capitalize on every opportunity given to me and to continue to use my platform to pay it forward to the next generation of rippers.
Follow Tricia on her blog; https://triciamangan.substack.com/