“If you don’t do it this year, you will be one year older when you do.”
I remember clearly my first day on the rope tow at the age of 13, when my parents finally succumbed to my pressure and let me go skiing. It was a beautiful day, the snow was freshly groomed corduroy and from first glide, I knew I would never want to stop. I did laps and eventually made it up the chairlift and skied almost every square inch of the 300 vertical feet of Tyrol Basin. The following year I got a season pass, and after that, quickly worked my way into a ski instructor role. Before I was 18, the age the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) requires for holding the Level II certification, I had found a way to complete and pass the Level II tests, but had to wait several months for it to be official when I finally had my birthday.
I ended up at that point teaching more advanced lessons, and as you can imagine, adults would look at me with skepticism when someone a fraction of their age was teaching. It taught me a lot about customer service and understanding how to work with others though. Skiing and competing ultimately led me to college in Montana and the wild mountain ranges that drove me always to the next run, the next perfect powder day, and the next challenge. I got into photography initially as a way I thought would pay my bills and allow me to always work in the mountains. That dream faded when reality struck, but the mountains will always be in my blood, regardless of the miles that distance myself from Missoula, Montana.
When I came across this article from Teton Gravity Research, the same film company that inspired my years of skiing through movies like The Continuum, Mind the Addiction, and others, I realized they were right. Skiers do make great entrepreneurs. We like risk, we like challenges, are not afraid of failure, and we are analytical. Many of my friends have gone on to to amazing things after a few years living sometimes dirtbag lives that included seasonal jobs with the sole purpose of skiing. In my case, a few of these people even let me trade cases of Pabst Blue Ribbon for a place to sleep while working for a Jackson Hole rafting company. That scrappiness and will to do whatever it takes is innate in ski bums. It is spending those years doing whatever you can to do what you love. When reality eventually strikes, those experiences never fade and the lessons stay with you.
Lisa Slagle is spot on. Ski bums do eventually grow up and start kickass businesses. Check out the article here.