Comeback Update #2- Finding Balance

When I was very young my mom told me that life is like a tightrope walk. If we push away the bad and only reach for the good, we will fall off the rope. The goal is to find middle ground while navigating the positive and negative experiences life presents us with. I have carried this metaphor with me through some major ups and downs in my life. With each new challenge I face, the depth of her wisdom sets in a little more. Life is not just about the good stuff. It’s about balance. Without a bad day, we would not know a good one. Without hot, we would have no concept of cold. The contrast is what gives us foundation.

That being said, let’s get into my Comeback Update #2- Finding Balance.

In Update #1 I left off just before the busy competition season began. Since November, I have competed in 3 contests, landed on 2 podiums, traveled to 1 country outside the US and sustained 1 noteworthy injury.

It all started off with a bang! The North Face Open at Copper Mountain, CO was a dream come true. I was reunited with old friends and landed myself on the podium in 3rd place.

Qualifying day at The North Face Open Copper

Qualifying day at The North Face Open Copper

Click link to see the Freeskier article on Qualifiers

Finals day at Copper.

Finals day at Copper.

The podium at Copper.

The podium at Copper.

Click link to see the Freeskier article on Finals

The very next week was the Dew Tour at Breckenridge, CO. Training went great that week but when it came to qualification day, something was off. I was sick to my stomach and thought maybe it was just an extreme case of nerves. I pushed through and placed 7th in qualifications, just missing finals by a spot. It turns out I had unknowingly eaten scrambled eggs with milk in them that morning and I am lactose intolerant. Oops! Lesson learned, people often add dairy to fluff up scrambled eggs.

Reunion of friends at Breck Dew Tour.

Reunion of friends at Breck Dew Tour.

After a month of skiing in Colorado it was time to make the 8 hour road trip home to Salt Lake City, Utah. I happily settled back into my apartment but just long enough to fit in my first powder turns of the season. A day of shooting with photographer Re Wikstrom at Alta, one of my favorite mountains, was just what I needed! Then it was off to Green Bay, Wisconsin for some long overdue holiday family time.

Happy to be home in my favorite halfpipe. Park City with Kimmy Sharp!

Happy to be home in my favorite halfpipe. Park City with Kimmy Sharp!

After the hectic holidays I was ready to get back into a halfpipe. Park City Mountain Resort is home to my favorite halfpipe in the world! Opening day was epic! Great people, great weather and a beautiful halfpipe all to ourselves. Training progressed smooth that week until one day while working on my left 900, I caught the deck (top of the halfpipe) falling 15+ feet onto my side. I knocked myself out and sustained only a minor concussion thanks to my helmet and mouth-guard. I was restricted from skiing for 10 days, forcing me to miss the Copper Mountain Grand Prix. This was a huge let down, for the Grand Prix competitions are very highly ranked in our sport.

After 10 days off, I got back on snow and began to rebuild my confidence. With 1 day of skiing in Utah, I was off to Whistler, British Columbia, Canada for The North Face Open Whistler event. Being born and raised in Bellingham, WA (only 3 hours from Whistler), flying into Vancouver was like coming home. I was greeted outside the airport by air heavy with moisture and evergreen trees abundant. The Pacific Northwest will always have my heart. I placed 2nd at the event and my mom drove up to cheer me on!

2nd place podium in Whistler and my mom was there to cheer me on!

2nd place podium in Whistler and my mom was there to cheer me on!

Click on link to see the Newschoolers article on Finals

It was bittersweet being back in Whistler, where I first met my friend and fallen skier Sarah Burke at a summer ski camp many years ago. That summer Sarah taught me my first 360 in a halfpipe and snuck me into my first bar to go dancing. Whistler was Sarah’s home and where I fell in love with freeskiing. After her passing last January, we gathered in the Whistler halfpipe for a memorial and celebration of her life. Being back at the place where we lit candles to symbolize her light living on in all of us, brought back so many emotions. It was a roller-coaster trip for me. I am so grateful for the support of my coach, good friends and my mom!

Forever in our hearts, we miss you Sarah!

Forever in our hearts, we miss you Sarah!

“Balance” is my mantra for 2013, reminding me to embrace both the ups and the downs this year. For each is vital in knowing the other.

Next up: Park City Grand Prix January 31st. Click link for event Schedule 

The Comeback update #1

Seems fitting to start with a stroll down memory lane…

Hello from sunny Breckenridge, Colorado. It’s update time…

After returning home from New Zealand, I spent 2 months preparing for the North American winter ski season. With strategic planning, training, eating and mental preparation, I feel ready to take on the busiest competitive season I have ever had. (For example, I have 4 contests before Christmas, when in years past my first contest was mid January!)

Thanksgiving day I set out in the “Silver Bullet” (my Subaru Oakback) from my cozy home in Salt Lake City, Utah to chilly Boulder, Colorado. I was lucky enough to spend a fabulous “Friendsgiving” at the beautiful Katrina Siegfried’s home. I rolled up to her house right as dinner was being served. Katrina took on the challenge of baking a feast that stuck to my Whole30 dietary needs. In a nutshell, Whole30 eating cuts out grains, legumes, dairy and anything processed/refined. Basically I can eat meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds. It was quite the treat to be able to eat everything at the table. Believe me, this NEVER happens!

I have been skiing in Summit County for 9 days, 4 of which have been in Copper Mountain’s halfpipe. With it being the first halfpipe open of the season, everyone and their brother is here. It is a wonderful, yet busy reunion of old friends and new faces.

Day 1, 2 and 3 at Copper had their ups and downs, falls and triumphs. But today provided my most profound lesson yet.

“When making a comeback, you must let go of what was, what could have been, and what should be… and focus on what is.” 

My friend Tori Beattie gave me some amazing advice. She suggested I treat each trick as if I am learning it for the first time. This really resonates with my current struggle… my frustration comes when I compare my current skiing to how I used to ski 4 years ago. My plan is to calm my mind and focus on the progress I am making. Rome was not built in a day, and I WILL ski to my potential once again.

BIG shout out to my friends, family and coach Luke Allen for all the positive vibes and advice this week.

Cheers to patience, dedication and strength of character!


The Comeback

I traveled to New Zealand and found old friends, new friends and family, many a muddy sheep, sunny days at SnowPark, powder days at Treble Cone, trials and tribulations and greatest of all… confidence in my health.

It has been a long journey back to health for me over the past 16 years. After 2 1/2 years of intensive treatment, lifestyle food and activity restrictions and both physical and emotional turmoil, I’m happy to report I’m back doing what I love most, SKIING! My trip to New Zealand this past month solidified my triumph over Lyme Disease. After placing 2nd in the North Face New Zealand Open on September 1st, any self doubts I had about returning to competitive halfpipe skiing have vanished. This event meant far more than any in my career. Below you can check out a quick edit of my run at the NZ Open, just click the “NZ Open 2012″ link.

NZ Open 2012

My trip began with a 12 hour flight, giving me plenty of time to reflect on the past few years of my life. How much had changed, and how much was still the same. I was surprised to find butterflies in my stomach as I boarded my flight at the Los Angeles International Airport. Excitement and yes, I was nervous! This was my first trip abroad in 2 years and my first competition back in even longer. I also found myself being nostalgic. I have the fondest memories of my previous trip to NZ in 2007. I met people that are to this day some of my closest friends and won the New Zealand Open halfpipe event. Now I can add my trip this summer to those fond memories. Having only 3 weeks in a halfpipe before my comeback event, I was able to put together a run that landed me in 2nd place. To top it all off, my adopted NZ family showed up to cheer me on with signs! Check it out along with other moments from my trip in the gallery below.

A huge thanks to my family and friends for always believing in me, the Toomey family for welcoming me into their home and going above and beyond as hosts, my boyfriend Reid for being a constant support at any hour of the day/night, Peter Legnavsky for connecting me to anything I needed in Wanaka, Freeskiing NZ for the event footage, Anna Segal for being an amazing friend and the most fun partner in crime, the memory of friend and fellow skier Sarah Burke for giving me inspiration in my moments of doubt, and last but certainly not least my amazing sponsors who made this trip possible ATOMIC and OAKLEY. Also, I want to thank everyone who sent support my way throughout my recovery from Lyme. There is one word that sums up my overall sentiment, gratitude!

Cheers and see you on the slopes this winter, whoohooo!

May horaaay!

May has brought much more than just flowers this year! Here is a recap of what’s been going on:

  • *Lyme Disease Awareness Month began.
  • *I released a trailer and Kickstarter fundraiser for LymeLight, my Lyme awareness film.
  • *ESPN, Powder Magazine, Skiing Magazine and Grind TV wrote articles about LymeLight, creating buzz about Lyme.
  • *Friends, family and community spread the word about LymeLight and Lyme Disease awareness.
  • *My “LymeLight kits” went into production (T-shirts, wristbands and other Lyme awareness gear coming soon.)
  • *I ran my first 5K race, and dedicated my efforts to Girls On The Run (a program that promotes young girls being active), Lyme Disease awareness and the memory of Sarah Burke.

What a BIG month May has been thus far!

The second week of May marked the release of a month long fundraiser for LymeLight, the Lyme awareness documentary I am making. I have been working with Neu Productions since November 2011 to capture footage for the film. Our goal is to raise enough money to produce and complete the documentary, take it on tour to spread Lyme awareness and share my story around the world. To find out more about my project and how you can get involved and donate, visit the LymeLight Kickstarter page.

I’m blown away by the support LymeLight has received from family, friends and community! With nearly every person I know -yeah you know who you are :-)reposting, emailing, tweeting, and telling people in their lives about LymeLight, we were able to raise 25% of our goal in 7 days! Now we are at 70% on day 14! Beyond just raising money to finish LymeLight, with everyone’s help we’ve spread the word about Lyme Disease far and wide. My dream of raising awareness has already begun to come true, thanks to the support of people like you!

I started off the 3rd week of May by running my first 5K race. This is an accomplishment that solidified my triumph over illness. It was only a few years ago that I was unable to run at all due to severe pain and arthritis.

Here are a few photos of Becca Babicz and I during the “Girls On The Run” 5K at Sugarhouse Park. We dedicated our race to the memory of Sarah Burke and Lyme Disease awareness month. Thanks to Reid Persing for his photography skills and support.

I encourage you all to get out and partake in Lyme Disease awareness month! No matter what form your support takes, every bit of energy towards this cause makes a difference. Here are a few ideas of ways to get involved and spread the word:

  • *Reposting the link to the LymeLight Kickstarter page on Facebook.
  • *Share with the people in your life why you’re motivated to spread the word about Lyme Disease. (In person, over the phone or in an email.)
  • *Wear a lime green ribbon or article of clothing to symbolize your support.
  • *Join a community event/walk/race and wear lime green.
  • *Blog about Lyme Disease awareness month, sharing what you know and feel about this illness.
  • *Instagram/tweet/facebook artistic photos of limes, with captions mentioning Lyme awareness month (Being creative by using the “play on words” to catch people’s attention.)

Thanks to everyone for your support! Let’s keep the ball rolling…


Believe in Sarah

I have written and erased sentences for days trying to find words to express my thoughts/feelings on whatSarah Burke has meant to me. I feel strongly compelled to share this story. It says it all.
When I was in high school I followed my older brother to Whistler, BC to attend a summer ski camp named “Momentum.” This camp was located on the Blackcomb glacier and specialized in moguls and park skiing. We would wake up early and take 2 chair lifts over grass and mountain biking terrain to the last bit of snow left on the mountain. There were jumps, rails, a quarterpipe and a halfpipe. I had never skied park let alone heard of hitting rails, so you can imagine how all over the place I was on my skis that week. I tried my first 360′s and slipped out on so many rails, that by the end of the week my hip was black and blue. I was a mess! But the best kind of mess there is. I was sun burnt, bruised and sore but had the biggest smile on my face. This is the week I fell in love with Freeskiing. This is also the week I found my hero, Sarah Burke.
But wait… there’s a twist in this story. Half way through the week I ran into a speed bump on my way to “falling for freeskiing.” There were many coaches at this camp, Sarah being one of them. These were talented and impressive athletes. We all looked up to them so very much.
…The speed bump came when a coach (who will remain nameless) told me to stick to just skiing, that maybe park skiing wasn’t for me. I was heart broken. I loved this new sport more then any sport I’d ever participated in (and I tried them all!) As I was hiking up to the top of the hill with tears in my eyes, Sarah came up to me and said something that changed my outlook. She told me to follow my dream no matter what anyone said. She believed in me fully! She was able to see past my tight and torn non stylish gear, my non twin tip skis, my amateur abilities, my lack of formal ski training and see the potential that lay within. She saw something in me that I had not even begun to see in myself.
I took her words to heart and 5 years later placed 3rd at the US Freeskiing Open. That day, the same coach that doubted me in Whistler years prior approached me and complemented my skiing. Everything came full circle. He now saw the potential that Sarah saw in me years before.
Frankly speaking, Sarah is the reason I am a professional skier. She not only paved the way and created a place for women in freeskiing, her friendship inspired bravery. I looked up to Sarah in every way. Her kindness and inclusion of all people lit up a room. Her dedication and drive for freeskiing is inspirational and unmatched. I will hold onto every lesson learned from her, every gift she gave me and cherish all the memories we made over the years.
Today and everyday, let us be thankful for all we have in life. Let us be thankful for life itself. Let us fill up our days with passion and dedication. Let us continue to follow in her iconic footsteps. Let us be thankful for Sarah.
With love and gratitude, rest in peace my beautiful friend.
Trennon Paynter said it best: “She’s in every snowflake, every ray of sunshine, every breeze. More than ever, now and always, I #BelieveInSarah.”