Ski Moms - With Thanks!
By: Linda Storey (2003/10/05)
Canadian skiers are largely funded by the Bank of Mom and Dad. If you aren’t a ski racer or parent of one, you may wonder why it is that parents allow their children to spend hundreds of hours gliding on skis at their expense. Seems silly, almost as crazy as those racing suits they wear. Well XC Ottawa athletes asked their mothers to share their thoughts on having a ski racer in the family. Maybe the advice of these experienced Ski Moms will encourage parents to enroll their kids in a Jackrabbit or Junior racing program.Out there, beyond the fringes of so-called normal teen culture, there’s a secret society of brave and hearty individuals who surface from warm quilts when the season turns its coldest. They are sometimes seen in packs but their hardest work is accomplished as loners. They’re intelligent, imaginative, and highly motivated...they wear odd clothing that appears too skimpy and frequently smells too rank for the ordinary mortal. Such banal tasks as laundry, shopping, or cleaning are lost in the endless hours of training and practice fueled by pasta and power bars. They are the energetic souls who call themselves Canadian cross-country skiers! Early each morning they arise and consume enormous quantities of cereal before they brave the elements. Skiers are often quiet individuals within the family circle...we assume that they’re visualizing or going to that inner space to prepare for training or racing. They keep journals of goals and logs of hours of running or biking in the off-season. It’s when that first snow appears that these x-country people energize and take off. While the rest of us are still mourning the loss of the summer warmth and leisure or complaining about the cold, skiers are planning and waxing, waxing, waxing. Finally they leave on that first ski of the season on that precious centimeter of snow! What they do while enduring pain, nerves, tedium and poor conditions appears to the rest of us like suffering. To those in this inner circle it must be pure pleasure, worth every minute of sacrifice. And there are sacrifices...teens who take on this quest to perform at their personal best at cross-country skiing also accept all the challenges of school and family life as well as a neglected social life. Most teens consider themselves lucky to have endless hours to listen to music or hang with friends; the skier probably has to find most of that social life inside the skiers’ circle. There’s simply no more time in the day to meet the demands of high academic achievement and great results at races. The skier must be able to focus on the task at hand and enjoy the training runs; it seems they are people who really live in the moment. Later, after the practice, they’ll deal with the homework or studying or projects. They learn to be organized and if they don’t life can be chaos. They learn to really listen whether in school or with the coach. They learn to advocate for themselves at school and speak to their teachers about the classes they will miss and the assignments they will hand in late. They learn to rely only on themselves to keep in touch with their teachers about what went on while they were away from school; they certainly adapt to missing time and those other activities that seem part of the regular school life. Let it snow! The cross-country enthusiast is ready. Parents and coaches stand aside; our children figure all of this out, perhaps at some unconscious level while they’re on the trails. It seems to become so much fun to train and ski and compete that they grow into stronger and more healthy individuals. They are focused and armed against all of our worries and attempts to protect them. The results and the integrity they achieve is up to them as individuals...we can only be their support crew and their biggest fans!