It’s a bit bizarre, but every now and then I find myself in one of those moods. Wondering what life would be like had I not walked away. After years of hard work I had achieved an incredibly unique situation, having access into a very closed off industry and getting offered several jobs every year to do whatever I wanted (magazines, event production, filming, etc). This was a deep honor, and amazing considering I wasn’t even 18 years old.
why I Walked Away
What most people didn’t know is that I had gotten to that place out of necessity and as a means to deal with a sever depression that nearly took my life twice. This in no way is meant to diminish the passion and love I had and will always have for the sport. I bring up my depression because it is a key part of the journey into skiing that started in 1999 with a simple website, and one of the key pieces that led me away from the sport in 2004. At that time I had created a social network (now defunct – MidwestSkier.com), produced internationally recognized events, produced/directed action sport films, wrote for magazines, photographed, and choreographed street marketing campaigns. Not to bad for a freshman in college.
While my other growing passion, for my faith, wasn’t warmly received in the skiing community it became evident to me that skiing wasn’t the insurmountable passion I believed it to be. This had been unimaginable to me just years earlier (was saved in 2002), and yet I understood that if I was ever to get my mental health stable I needed to walk away from skiing. Skiing more than a passion, a career, and the love of my life, it also happened to be my escape from the pains of my life. I couldn’t adequately deal with my life without taking more time for myself.
So I resigned. At the age of 20 I was changing careers. There was no way for me to slow down without stepping out and was the hardest decision I had made in my life. I had a couple thousand hours a year in the event and a thousand more into development of the website. The event and website came out of my need to bring the freedom I experienced in skiing into the summer months, and to extend that freedom to others like me. It was time for me to focus my life on the only freedom I have found to be greater than skiing, my faith in God. It wasn’t quite done yet.
next Came the Heat
Hardest of all was not being able to express adequately what was going on to those who where friends and peers of mine. I drafted my resignation several times before I sent it out and went to sleep. Overnight everything changed as I effectively closed the doors into one of the only worlds I had known, skiing. The phone calls all stopped, i received a few messages encouraging me, but the voices who had reminded me to ‘remember them when I ruled the world’ were gone. This is when the backlash started.
My resignation had struck a nerve in the skiing community. For many standing on the outside they saw a punk kid through away their dream career because of some fake God experience. They didn’t understand how I could at my core still be the same. Insiders distanced themselves from me since it became clear that I wasn’t going to come back. Many things were said, many of them hurtful and most of them out of frustration. Hardest of all was watching close friends of mine disappear.
the Ugly Break-up
Somehow in the midst of everything skiing chose everyone else over me. I found myself on the sidelines longing to ride again, to get in the half-pipe and fly through the air. Being away from skiing for this many years has been very hard and bittersweet. After the dust had settled I felt like I couldn’t even head out to go skiing. I knew there were people that I had hurt, it didn’t seem like they wanted to hear from me, and so I stopped skiing. I stopped as a sort of avoidance and also because of how expensive skiing became overnight (give up all my sponsors and free tickets).
In the future I will ski more frequently. It grieves me to say that in the 6 seasons (04-05 through 09-10) that followed my resignation I have only been on skis a dozen times (though once was in france!). Since then I have begun to re-establish myself focusing on software development and in preparing to launch a church, yet I will always save a place in my heart for the first love of my life – skiing.
a Special Treat
This is the second ski video I produced: Espionage. It was released in the fall of 2003. After this we transitioned the production company to focus on promotional pieces to increase sponsorship offerings.