VAIL, Colorado - Rebecca Selig has had some mountains to climb on her way to the top of the skiing world.
Selig is a recovering alcoholic, her dying mother's primary caretaker and one of the best big-mountain freeskiers to ever obey the laws of gravity - which she does with missionary zeal.
She's in Vail for now. Soon, she turns south for the Eye of the Condor skiing competition in La Parva, Chile. It's a team event, and she'll be part of Team Icelantic, an all-women's team representing the Denver-based ski manufacturer.
"I like to think I'm dancing out there," Selig said. "I'm creating art."
She'll be 33 next month. She doesn't drink, but she still gets carded when she goes to clubs with her friends.
Being adorable and talented works out well for Selig and Team Icelantic. Eye of the Condor is an invitation-only photo and video competition featuring freeskiers.
"It's stepping outside of the box of the ski competition scene," she said. "There'll be lots of costumes, glamour, dancing with the locals, night shoots - who knows what it's going to turn into?"
You remember Selig. She won the 2009 Subaru Freeskiing World Tour and is prequalified for this year's tour.
"I've been blessed. I have a world title from 2009 and have stayed on top for the last few years," Selig said. "I keep saying I'm not going to another competition, but I always keep showing up."
She arrived in Vail last week and leaves for Chile in two weeks. She had just left an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting when we caught up with her and was reflecting on all she has coming her way.
"It's overwhelming in a beautiful, beautiful way," Selig said.
Last spring, her mother, Claudia, was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. They don't know how long she'll live, but they'll make sure she lives while she's alive, Selig said.
She filed for medical leave from her job as a head concierge with Vail Resorts and moved back to Kalamazoo, Mich., to help her mom and dad and volunteer with the West Michigan Cancer Center.
"Sometimes, you do not choose what type of volunteer work you need to be doing, it chooses you," Selig said. "As a recovering alcoholic, this experience has helped my recovery process tremendously."
She's not timid about telling her story. Living life without fear and embracing love are her way of life, she said.
"Through my work in AA, I have practice sharing my experience, strength and hope," she said.
She's chasing her dream of being a professional freeskier and life beyond competition; her head and heart have never been so focused, she said.
"I'm certain that learning from these life lessons is just as important as working out in the gym," Selig said. "This time with my mother is balancing my journey and helping me become a better role model."
Selig's road to recovery began with what we'll call a series of youthful indiscretions, combining alcohol and automobiles. She became a regular in Eagle County Judge Katharine Sullivan's court.
Sullivan isn't known to roll out the welcome mat for return guests to her courtroom, especially those whose repeated appearances involve bouts with alcohol.
Sullivan ordered Selig into the treatment program that changed her life.
Selig's last drink was May 4, 2010.
"I go to AA meetings, I go to church on Sunday nights, I work, and I ski," Selig said. "I'm not certain what the future holds, but I do know I'm trying to be of maximum service to God and helping others."
Then she says something only big-mountain freeskiers can fully embrace.
"I have to stay grounded."
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or email@example.com.