A true community is hard to find these days. I grew up in a town where you couldn’t drive down the highway without waiving at every single car that passed. Not only did we greet each other but also we looked after one another. The adults in the community didn’t avoid the children and the children didn’t disregard the adults. Everyone worked in unison to support the families that were having a hard go and there was always an outreached hand if you were down. One of the sad realities of life is that not everyone is lucky enough to grow up in a ski town community and those of us who were, are not always lucky enough to never leave.
Whether you grew up in a ski town or you visit one once a year, whether you ski 250 days a year or 1, or if every time you think about skiing you realize you’re probably not going to be as good as you were last year. We all end up sharing a common bond of knowing the feeling of sliding on snow. That makes us a community, a community that spans the globe. Each and every year we invite more to join us while simultaneously losing a few here and there to careers, old bones, broken bones and every now and then a realization that we’re not as young as we once were. I don’t consider myself old, but I’m definitely not what I used to be on the mountain. This year for me I will undergo my most drastic change. For the first time in my life if I want to feel that sliding sensation that we are all chasing, I will be doing it sitting down.
When I broke my neck nearly a year ago I realized right away that I wouldn’t be skiing at the same level I was just the day before for quite some time. As I lay paralyzed in a hospital bed I wondered if the community that I had been a part of since age 2 would slip away from me. I was having a hard time understanding what my life would be like if it didn’t revolve around waiting for winter and skiing when it came. At that moment what I was going through was so confusing all I could do was hope and pray that it wasn’t going to last forever and that someday I would ski again.
The X-Games were televised the week I came out of sedation and it was a much-needed break from my reality. Instead of lying there and envisioning my coming success I could watch my friends on TV and their current successes. Much to my surprise the first friend I saw on TV had a bright orange Riley Poor sticker on his helmet! That was the moment that I realized just how lucky I am to be part of such an amazing community. I had my family pull up the Powder Awards live webcast on my computer because just like the X-Games, I wasn’t going to miss that no matter who was breathing for me.
The outpouring of support that I received that night and every day since, has given me the energy that one would expect you need to deal with a life-changing injury. As I watched those familiar faces flash across the screen that evening it hit me how tight knit the ski community really is. I realize that in that room that night, every person could reach out and touch the person next to them and have a story and memories that they will forever share with that person. Then I started thinking about all the people who weren’t necessarily in that room and the interconnectedness of every lift ride, every lift line, every powder day and every inch we’ve ever moved on our skis. Everyone was somehow connected and together we formed a family.
The way the ski community has come together and supported myself and my family through the last year has made me realize that together we form a web that no one can fall through. I want to send my sincerest thanks to everyone that has helped prop me up through this challenging time with your positive energy, continuous outreach, generous donations, and amazing encouragement. I am incredibly lucky to be a part of such an amazing sport and will proudly call myself a skier for life.
Hope to see you on the mountain soon.