Saturday, February 11, 2017

Happy Thank You More Please

This blog has taken a back seat to living my life in the present, however, I feel the time has come to give an update. So many things. I've traveled back and forth to Europe so many times, to Mexico, and across the US for the last several years and its turned my life around from the depths of pain, loss and despair. A breakup inspired some of the travel, the loss of my brother inspired a heck of a lot more. Starting a business, traveling much more, quitting my job, changing things up, opening myself up to the unknown, to opportunities I never knew I could have, taking a risk and creating more upheaval and change than maybe was healthy for me. Now I am here. Living my dream. Living a dream I hadn't even conjured yet. Now its here. It is everything to me. 

Here is a little excerpt, my response to some questions from a reporter from my hometown of Glens Falls, New York. #GFNATION who caught wind of my current situation. 

I am kind of cheating by just pasting the words below, but its a good taste of what I've been up to, my motivation and what the inputs are for the outcome that is my life right now.  

I have so many photos, too, and I will post them. But here are some words to share first. Read them if you want, follow me on instagram for a little different explanation and a little more multi-media. @skistrange 

Heres to attracting more positivity and endless possibilities into my life. I am so incredibly blessed, fortunate, lucky and grateful I cannot even begin to understand it. I saw this movie years ago and I loved the sentiment then, and I am realizing more and more how true it is. The film is called HAPPYTHANKYOUMOREPLEASE. And its all about being happy, being grateful and asking for more, from the universe, from people in your life, from yourself. So, here's to that! Prost, Sante, Salut, Cheers, Chin Chin!

Slip crew in Cortina, Italy for Women's World Cup in January
Packed and ready to go to Europe for the winter, what it will bring, I had no idea


I became a ski coach somewhat by default. It was in my blood since I learned to ski, fresh out of diapers at Gore Mountain from my mom, who was a ski instructor and then race coach there for most of my early childhood. She put me in the Ski & Play daycare program even before I was even ready to ski, just played all day while she taught, and then when I was potty trained (haha), I started the 1/2 day baby ski program and never looked back! 

Some days she would take me out of the daycare to go skiing either I was in front of her and she skied backwards on the bunny slope, or she'd take me up to Chatamac and Hawkeye trails to ski the bumps, holding me between her legs as I shrieked with excitement, exclaiming "Go faster Mommy!!" as her legs burned all the way down. I still remember that from age 3 and 4 because I loved it so much, and it clearly made a massive impression on me for the rest of my life. 

Not only was my Mom an influence on my love of skiing, but also my late brother, Jack Strange, who had a deep love for skiing and ski racing, and became my coach when I was rising the ranks as a J1 & 2 or now they call it U19 at West Mountain Ski Area

Jack inspired me, helped me develop my skills and truly showed me the passion and fun of ski racing. He worked so hard for us, my team, at West Mountain, and I look back and think, wow, he was so dedicated to being a coach. All of my peers growing up ski racing have a story about him, what he said to them in the start or during a day or night of training to inspire them to give it another go when they were down. 

I've looked up to and followed Sarah Schleper's racing career since I was a young ski racer, and I remember vividly watching her, Bode, Lindsey Kildow and Erik Schlopy race in person at US Nationals at Whiteface, I think it was 1999. However, I came to know Sarah personally, fairly recently. 

I started my own ski camp this last summer at Mt. Hood, Oregon. Party Beach Ski Camps. its all about having fun! Ski racing is really intimidating and people can get overly serious about it. We want to cultivate an inclusive and "judgment free" environment where kids can blossom their own definition of what it means to be a skier and ski racer. So, one of the families in my camp had also been to Sarah's camp in Austria the summer before. This last summer they asked that I take their kids over to join Sarah.

I found myself in Hintertux, Austria by myself, without the 2 kids I was supposed to take, through a series of mishaps and complications, which prevented the rest of the family from joining me. So I was there, without my pupils, but available to work if needed. Lucky for me, Sarah did need my help as her assistant coach got injured and had to leave early. So I stayed and worked with her for the next 5 days up on the glacier and developed a great friendship out of it. 

She is one of the most inspirational people I know. She continues to ski race because she loves it so much. She is fiercely competitive and she says her husband thinks ski racing is her drug, she's addicted. She continues to ski race with a family and 2 kids by her side. She puts herself out there even among nay-sayers or people who question her choices. I wouldn't say she doesn't care what the nay-sayers are saying, but that her love for the sport supersedes their doubts. She is racing here at World Champs because she CAN! Because she's found a new love of racing speed, Downhill and Super-G, and she has the opportunity to do it here on the world stage. I mean, if I still had the power that she has in her skiing, I'd continue to race too! But I have no regrets about my ski racing career. I feel that as far as I went with my ski racing has truly lent itself to the coach I am today. 

Being in Switzerland is absolutely incredible. Its gorgeous, fancy, mountains in every direction, incredible food, hospitality, its a dream come true. Especially because I am right in the middle of the racing. I am participating and finding responsibility and purpose on the World Cup. Not just World Cup, but World Championships. Its unbelievable. Being a ski coach in general is my dream job. Owning my own ski camp is my dream job. Coaching on the World Cup, especially just one athlete who is my friend, who has so many years of experience and a highly respected reputation is beyond a dream come true. Its like the dream I didn't really know could come true. Or my wildest fantasy that has become reality. 

I am so incredibly grateful for this opportunity and this experience. I have to pinch myself on a daily basis. Even as I write this, I'm sitting in this gorgeously set dining room with white linens and silver as the sun shines through from snow covered pine trees and freshly covered gigantic rocky mountains in view. How did I get here? I ask myself. How am I so lucky to have attracted this experience, these kind of people into my life? I must keep it up, bring in more of this, because its everything I've ever wanted, everything I never even knew I could have, but that I've been striving for. 

So my main mission of this trip is to work my ass off, do everything I can to support Sarah, learn, listen, soak in, network, put myself out there, because then perhaps I can do it again. Maybe I can support Sarah again on this stage, or even bigger, the Olympics at Pyeongchang. If I can do the best job I can do, be there for her and help make things easier and smoother for her, then maybe she'll want to keep me around! She won't be racing forever (although she's certainly extended her career beyond most), I better do what I can to join her on this crazy ride before its over. 

I feel like theres a lot more I can say as coaching ski racing and inspiring athletes to love skiing as much as I do is just in my DNA, its deep in my heart and soul. Its everything to me. And its even more special to me now as I've lost my brother, a huge inspiration to me in regards to the love of skiing. He was my biggest fan and biggest supporter besides my parents, who have also always supported me and my "alternative" lifestyle and career choice. But I realize and fully believe that when you find passion in your work or just in your behavior and actions, the universe is unlocked. The universe is at my fingertips and the positive energy and love I have for what I do is reciprocated back to me. That is how I am where I am today.