It’s a long road—bring your friends!

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And we’re back, at March 1. Championship season. The pressure cooker. We thought it would be different this year, with a more locally-based racing season. But as long as there are races to be had, and an end to the season in sight, the tension will rise. Athletes will put extra pressure on themselves and parents will wonder why they spend so much time, energy and money on a sport that leaves their kids feeling frustrated and defeated much of the time. As an extra bonus this year we are acutely aware that the whole ski racing gig—torturous though it may be on our psyches— can end at any time, as it did last March.

So there’s that. In reality, and especially this year when so many have been locked down and locked in, every moment out on the hill is precious. The very best days of ski season are ahead of us, as long as we can resist the temptation of freaking out, in favor of chilling out.

This is why I re-issue the Long Road post every year. It is a reminder to anyone reading, and also to myself, that if we’re really into this sport, we’ll hunker in for the long haul. We’ll value the entire journey rather than hoping to cash in on the highlights. One race, one series or even one season won’t make much of a difference in the long run. The people we meet along the way, however, and the times we have with them, will make the difference of a lifetime.  

This truth is especially clear to me this year, having just enjoyed a few days with old teammates. We gathered to join Eva Twardokens for her first time skiing since her plane crash, just over two years ago. Then, we wondered whether she would talk, or walk again. Skiing was nowhere on the horizon. Getting to this point has been part of her own long road, one that stretches in both directions. A key part of this journey and especially of these past few days, is the power of friendship.

The effort to get Eva back on skis, as much as reaching a milestone in her recovery, was about reminding her she is not alone. Some teammates and friends came out to encourage her, while others connected through text, phone, likes and comments. They all tuned in to remind her of the giant ski family behind her.

The value of skiing—this activity that once meant so much to us as a way to stack up achievement—now resides entirely in the community it has created.

Eva probably said it best: “Skiing through this,…this is my gold medal.”

And that, my friends, is one more snapshot of why the long road matters. If you’re feeling the heat of the season, click on over to the long road right now, and then chill out and enjoy Spring!

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