Sometimes we look at the success of others in skiing or life and think "I could do that" or "I would be that good if I had the same opportunity". There's a lot of different factors that feed into getting good at anything. Natural ability, drive to practice, where you live, the people you meet, or any coaching/mentoring opportunities etc.
Some people have better opportunities, they live near a bigger mountain, their family can send them to Windells for multiple weeks every summer. Some people have a better park at their home mountain, a big backyard setup, a good coach, good friends to ski with.
Everyone has different opportunities, but also their own road blocks. Instead of wasting too much time and energy thinking of why you aren't better, what you could have or should have been, think about the things that you're passionate about.
Me and @KEVTRON[/tag] at West 2010
What are you good at? Better yet what makes you happy? Sometimes I find the most joy in things that I'm not necessarily good at, and probably never will be. In those moments I don't take myself too seriously because it's easy to recognize how much of a noob I am. I also find joy in the little improvements I make over time.
I hear talk and see posts about this stuff somewhat regularly. Honestly I did it too. If I had a park growing up, if I could have gone to one of the camps, if I had friends around me that rode harder.
Those factors had an impact, but at the end of the day it was really on me. I didn't want it. Whether lacking natural abilities or the insane drive to push through. For every stack of good skiers that grew up with the best gear, the best mountain, the best coaching, the summer camps etc, there's that person that makes it with none of that. They had skills, and they had the drive to develop those. Even just having fun but pushing themselves in their park skiing.
For as many opportunities as I didn't have, there are so many that I did have. My parents losing their jobs and us moving way upstate in NY gave me the chance to get into skiing and eventually snowboarding as well. We had a local mountain close to us, we had school lessons, and the ability to ride a certain amount of days for free.
Getting some hits on a setup I built at Oak, the place where it all began for me.
When I moved to teach lessons at Gore, I nearly got fired, and took quite a verbal lashing for building a jump on one of the trails. At the end I was offered a job working in terrain parks. Had that opportunity not come, there's no way to tell if I would have gotten into this job that I'm still doing 15 years later. Maybe I would have burnt out of teaching, I doubt I had many more years of beginner lessons in me. I might have been just another person who used to ski and board every day and now hasn't been out on the hill in 3 years. We've all had those friends, and there's nothing wrong with it.
People, and their passions change over time. Sometimes the thing you couldn't be pulled away from becomes a loose hobby, or something you simply don't do at all.
@Karkoskier riding some post season features we tossed in
If all you want to do is ski now, get out and ski as much as you can. Hike that rail 17 times until you get that front 2 out as clean as you wanted it. Get out and tour for the good turns or rip fast groomers with the squad. This year skiing is everything to you, but at some point, next season, in 5 years, maybe it won't be. Do the things you love now, because as life rolls on we change. I still love to snowboard, hell I still love to ski(even though I rarely get out) but I don't need to be on the mountain everyday. It could be a mix of reasons, maybe because I work nights, maybe I was burning out, maybe because I live and work at the ski resort.
Got some fun laps in at Crystal today after work
Maybe I've just changed, maybe my priorities shifted. Last spring I bought myself an an acoustic guitar, and though I haven't lost my love for the mountain, this has become my number one. It's brought me arguably as much joy as snowboarding does and I get so excited every time I pick it up to play. When I get into a good jam, learn a song I liked, play a cool riff, it's that same feeling to me as hiking that rail to get that trick, or building a jump and hiking until I got that 5 around clean.
I don't get out nearly as much as I used to. I've found that for me some breaks in between riding have been important to me, given me some free time, and kept me from burning out. I still get out a couple of times a week and it still puts an immense smile on my face, but sometimes I don't want to. Sometimes there are other things I'd rather do and that's okay.
Life is weird, it brings us a wild array of different challenges and opportunities. Instead of focusing on what could have or should have been, embrace the randomness. You don't have to become the best skier, but if you want it and you're driven, you can probably get pretty damn good at it.
You can't control where you were born, where you grow up, your parents ability to send you to summer camps. You do have the ability to make the best of it, better yet embrace it and let those little quirks and challenges add some spice to who you are. Everyone is different, everyone has their own challenges and opportunities. All you can do is get out there and make the best of yours.
Squad laps at Afriski 2016
So if at this point in you're life, all you want to do is ski, all I can say is get after it. Stop reading this, get to the mountain, set up a rail in your backyard, go for a tour, and get after it. Maybe in 10 years you'll be as passionate, maybe you'll be the best skier on the mountain, maybe you won't and that's okay.
All we can do is make the best of the opportunities life brings us, learn from the challenges and mistakes, and find the things that bring us happiness and get after it. Surround yourselves with good people that push you and not only make you a better skier but a better person.
Maybe you will be the best skier on the mountain, maybe you will be that pro, maybe you won't, but today is another day, and if that's where your passion lies I hope you're out on the slopes getting after it.