Vail Daily column: You can never really ‘retire’ from skiing
It’s hard to give up something you’ve spent literally one half of your life doing, but especially if that something is a sport you love and have loved from the very first time you tried it.
And even more so if you’re just about to turn the ripe old age of 17.
Ski & Snowboard Club Vail has been a part of our family life for over a decade (one of our older boys was there for a bit), and to put it quite simply, was the single biggest contributor outside of home and school to shaping the character of the youngest of our Colorado Carnes brood.
One of his best friends since kindergarten has been ski racing alongside our son for the last eight years, and last month they reached a joint decision to “retire” from the sport they both love.
High school juniors, one retired to pursue his passion of racing around a track instead of gates and the other to pursue different sports and to get serious about college.
Both are filled with an incredible passion for the sport of skiing that will last a lifetime, yet neither will understand the incredible opportunity they were provided as kids until they are — at the very least — in their mid-20s or so.
Well, because it was what they did as kids, and for those fortunate enough to be born and raised in Happy Valley, it’s how they grew up.
It was just normal.
For the other 99.99 percent of the kids on this planet it has very little, if any, meaning, but for our boys, in their eyes it was a wide-angle view of their entire childhood.
And that has a tremendous amount of meaning.
Eight years of competing against one another and other top racers across the country, racing on just about every race course in Colorado, traveling to races in Park City, Squaw Valley, Sun Valley, Mount Bachelor, Mount Hood, Canada and even Europe, these young men have experienced life to the nth degree — and yet they have no idea how it appears from the outside looking in.
As parents we wouldn’t want it any other way.
We traveled alongside whenever possible, videoed every race we attended, met and became lifelong friends with other racer families and spent almost an entire decade watching our kids grow from little boys to young men, all the while enjoying a sport they love.
It was wonderful.
But life goes on, kids grow up, priorities evolve, and so we stand today in a spot where we knew we would eventually arrive, and there are no regrets.
Don’t get me wrong though, as the commitments — both time related and financial — are significant, and I realize it is easier for some to handle than others, but that shouldn’t deter a single Happy Valley family from considering whether or not their kid should give it a shot.
There are many reasons most of us made the choice to raise a family in the mountains, and of course skiing is just one of them, but as a childhood sport it is second to none.
And what a childhood it has been.
Richard Carnes, of Edwards, writes weekly. He can be reached at email@example.com.