Erin Maidman: Am I really Olympics bound?

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Erin Maidman: Am I really Olympics bound?

Erin Maidman

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“So, Erin, will I be seeing you in the Olympics in a few years?” asks one person. “Can’t wait to see you at Sochi 2014!” exclaims another. These comments and questions have perplexed me from the day I started committing my time to ski racing. I’ve resorted to lightly chuckling at their statements for lack of any intelligible response. I could never give them a solid answer, until now. {sidebar id=65}

I think a lot of people who live in Ventura believe that the only logical reason why I would dedicate so much time to a sport so foreign and uncommon here is because I want to go to the Olympics. At least that would explain why they ask so often. I think that many people here don’t know enough about ski racing to fully understand how competitive it really is, and how good I have to be to make the US Ski Team. Ski racing is simply not a sport that most people are familiar with unless they live in a resort town, so it probably doesn’t seem like there’s a large ski racing community in our country for me to compete against.

There are 48 skiers, both men and women, on the U.S. Ski Team. Of those 48, only 15 belong to the A Team, or the team that competes in the Olympics. That’s 15 skiers, ages 17 to 36, who have reached the highest level of ski racing in the United States.

There were 84 women and 91 men in the U16 Western Region Championships alone, which include only the fastest racers from each major region in the West. Now add in the racers in the Central and Eastern Championships, everyone who didn’t compete in JO’s, and all the other age groups. Hopefully that puts things in perspective.

In my best event (Super-G), I am ranked 308th. So, clearly, Sochi 2014 isn’t exactly a reasonable expectation.

However, the most important reason why I don’t expect to become an Olympian is because, believe it or not, I have aspirations greater than that. It sounds preposterous, but I mean it.

Ask me the same question six months ago and I would’ve said, “That’s the plan!” I’ve dreamt about the Olympics all my life, always holding the event on the highest pedestal and believing it to be the greatest of all achievements. And, of course, I would still absolutely love to go to the Olympics, but now I have other, more important goals in mind; goals that are more important than, yes, the Olympics.

I want to compete in ski racing at the highest level I can manage and achieve my own high standards. That’s it. If that means racing in college while getting a degree in physical therapy, that’s great! If that means taking time off of school to join the U.S. Ski Team and winning the World Cup, that’s also great. I only have three goals in this sport, and those are to continue having fun, ski at a competitive level, and accomplish my goals. I know now that hard work, determination, resilience, and responsibility will get me where I want to go. I believe in baby steps, and I believe in passion. Without these two things, what could I possibly hope to accomplish?

Of course I want to be the best. Every athlete in the world wants the same thing. But I don’t need a gold medal or a World Cup title to be the best. No, I just need to be my personal best, and wherever that will take me is exactly where I want to go.

Maybe my skiing will take off in the next few years and I’ll fly to the top of the podium. Maybe I’ll go to the Olympics, or maybe I’ll just ski in college. Maybe I’ll lose all success in my skiing and just do it for fun, or maybe I won’t be a successful racer but a successful coach. I don’t care, as long as I am achieving my own standards, working hard, and loving what I’m doing. I can’t ask for anything more than that.

So, let me answer, once and for all, will I be going to the Olympics?

I’d love to go, who wouldn’t? What a wonderful feat to achieve! But, if my life leads me elsewhere, then wherever I go will be just as fulfilling. I don’t need to go to the Olympics.

I just love to ski.

 

What do you think?