There is nothing better than the feeling of doing something, despite the fact that it scares you. The first time I tried a backflip on skis, I was 15 years old at at Momentum Summer Ski Camp water ramps. Known as SMS back in the day.
I was standing at the top after watching the other boys doing them and thought it was something I wanted to try. All the boys I knew had already done them and I was left standing at the top with Rory Bushfield who looked at me and said “Just drop in and huck it Meredith”.
“Huck it…? What the heck does huck mean?” I replied nervously. “You know … just go down and huck yourself, go off the jump and huck”. I understood enough that if Rory Bushfield was telling me to do it, I needed to do it. So I did. I rotated half way and went in head first. It was clear I didn’t “huck” hard enough but at this point, I fully understood what he meant, go down and give it your best shot.
I went back to the top and tried it again and again and again, landing it a bit better every time. The next day I took it to the snow and landed it there too. The stoke and cheers you get from your peers, being a 15 year old girl throwing backflips on the water and snow is second to none, but the sense of satisfaction and accomplishment from doing something that scared you just moments earlier is indescribable and last for days.
It’s fifteen years later and I found myself watching my Deep Winter jibber team mate do a beautiful backflip off a perfectly shaped wind lip. The desire to prove that I could do one too, along with the fear that comes with the desire, kicked in. Sure I’ve done many backflips since I was 15, but certainly not in the last few years and when it comes to hucking myself off stuff, you could certainly say that I’ve been erring on the side of caution since my knee surgery last January.
The moment I showed a vague interest in hitting the jump, the 6 boys I was with whipped out their cameras and urged me on, just like Rory did 15 years ago. Moments later, I was flying through the air upside down. The hoots and the high 5’s from the boys up top, along with the satisfaction of pushing my comfort zone and facing the fear was no different that it has ever been. It’s been 2 days and I’m still smiling about it!
Thinking about the many moments of accomplishments I’ve had throughout my life, its evident that the words of Rory Bushfield “just huck it”, are quite wise. Hucking it doesn’t have to be off a jump or a cliff, but in general, face your fears, know that your peers want you to succeed, trust that you can do it and jump in. You’ll be happy you did!
I know it seems like I play a lot, but the deceptive part of social media is that I do actually work a whole bunch too. More than people would assume.
That said, I just like to take full advantage of the time I am able to get off and sitting around working isn’t nearly as interesting or as fun as the time I spend playing which makes you privy to the latter.
In this particular case the lovely Dane Harris and I both had 10 days off at the same time. As such, he invited me to join him in New Zealand for 8 days because travelling half way around the world chews up a couple of your days off.
Given my new role as the tech rep for Giro and GoPro I took this as an opportunity to brush up on my camera skills so I can better teach the staff members at my accounts how to use and sell them. Although I feel like I came back with a world of amazing experiences and much more knowledgeable on how to use my GoPro’s I can’t speak much to my editing skills. I apologize in advance for my efforts at sharing 8 days of a jam packed trip to New Zealand.
Eight days really ins’t a lot of time, but I would have to argue that we fit in more things during our 8 days than most people would do in 18 days. “It’s such a long way to travel for such a short visit” everyone contested when I told them I was going. I guess the way I see it, is better to go and make the most of it than not go at all… and we certainly did that!
When Dane picked me up at the airport I got in the car, looked at him and said “Welcome to MereDane’s awesome adventure!” Yes the trip was short, yes we both got sick, yes I got an infected finger and sliced my hand open. Yes it snowed in the middle of the summer while we were camping in a tent in a barn, our flights were delayed we were rushed everywhere we went, our friend broke his collar bone biking and we had to guide a bike tour we’ve never been on and my phone got stollen hours before I went home. Hectic and a bit of a gong show to say the least, but it was our gong show and it was awesome!
Years ago I was on the chairlift with Michelle Parker and she said “skiing is like going to the gym… you never regret it once you actually go”. It’s easy to get bogged down or discouraged by time constraints, logistics, set backs etc. but I think it’s important to embrace the chaos a little bit and take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves, cause in the end the reality is that you won’t ever regret it!
The sound associated with something bursting, perhaps a thought, a vision or a dream.
It’s also the sound you hear when you tear your ACL.
I have many friends that are familiar with the sound first hand, but I had never personally experienced it, until a week ago.
Twenty days prior, I had quit my full time corporate job, packed up my belongings, sublet my house, left behind the life in Vancouver I had spent the last 10 years building, and moved to Jackson Hole.
I had a good career and my life was steadily moving forward in the direction that would make any parent proud, so why put it on hold and potentially throw it all away?
It took me a long time to make this decision and the answer simply came down to the desire to live a life with no regrets. Albeit risky, intimidating and scarier than anything I had ever done, I needed to investigate what potential I had as a skier if I committed to being more than a weekend warrior. So it was decided, Jackson was where I needed to be to pursue my dream of being a professional skier.
The more I became committed to this decision, the more I felt the universe was telling me “this is what you are meant to be doing.”
I received incredible support from my employer, my sponsors, my friends. I had my first TV appearance after being nominated as Vancouver’s athlete of the week, my ski trip from the summer was getting exposure, I found a place to live with ease, I was accepted onto the Mountain Athlete team to train with my peers for the upcoming competition season, and Jackson was the only place in North America that was getting any snow!
Ten knee deep pow turns later on Teton Pass I took a minor crash and I heard the notorious “pop.”
In that moment, I knew my ski dream bubble along with my knee had exploded and my season was over before it had even started.
Friends swiftly stabilized my knee with shovels, jackets, rope and ski straps and split into two groups; one to retrieve the vehicles, the other to help me get out of the backcountry without causing further damage.
I skied down on one leg, ironically enough using the techniques I had learned at ski practice the day before. To dump speed I’d fall to my good and my friend Travis would then ski beside me, so I could use him and his skis to push myself up out of the deep snow.
Ski and fall. Struggle up.
Ski and fall. Struggle up.
Ski and fall. Struggle up.
Get off the mountain.
In the car on my way home my mind swirled with heavy thoughts and hard questions.
How would I tell my parents? How will they react?
Will I get kicked off the team?
Will insurance cover it?
How long until I can walk? How will I make money until then?
Do I stay in Jackson?
This will be my 5th knee surgery. I’m 30. Can I keep doing this?
“Failure” echoed in my mind as I processed all I had given up for the dream that popped with my ACL.
I was ashamed. The tears came.
Here’s the deal with pain. The sooner you get to it, the easier it is to overcome and the quicker you recover.
On my way to the hospital I called close friend who had gone through the exact same thing just a year prior. I had not asked her to share the news. What would people think of my failure?
It was wrong to worry. Before I left the hospital my phone was overflowing with text messages and voicemails with words of sympathy and encouragement from more friends than I knew I had in Jackson.
The pain eased some.
Despite my season ending injury, and the subsequent insecurities, no one thought any less of me. My parents were supportive, not disappointed. No “I told you so’s.”
The more people found out the more support and encouragement I received to persevere and come back stronger than I’ve ever been.
Instead of defeat, I’ve felt more confident in my abilities as a skier physically and mentally and I’m reassured that my decision to come to Jackson was the right one. I could not be surrounded by a better more supportive community than I have here.
Despite the disappointment I’ve decided my ski career bubble never actually popped, it simply got put on hold.