Eagle County native Abby Ghent hits the Europa Cup podium in Austria
VAIL — Standing on the Europa Cup podium on Jan. 14, Eagle County native Abby Ghent may not have felt uncomfortable accepting the trophy and flowers.
But if Ghent was feeling a little less than at ease, that happens to be just the way she likes things these days. Taking time to speak over the phone from Europe this week, the 23-year-old ski racer said getting out of her comfort zone has been one of the secrets of her success this season.
“I’ve been trying to be comfortable with being uncomfortable,” Ghent said. “And not just while I’m ski racing and training, I realized I needed to bring that off the hill too and test myself in other ways and bring that feeling into more of my life.”
Throughout the summer, Ghent did some cliff jumping. By the end of the summer, she could do a backflip into water. She even tried one on her skis.
“The more comfortable you get with being comfortable, the less likely it is that you’ll make the changes you want to make,” she wrote on her blog.
‘STRONGER THAN EVER’
When she wrote that, a few changes were needed in Ghent’s life if she was going to ski to the ability at which she knew she could. She didn’t qualify for the U.S. Ski Team, as there were too many speed specialists trying to squeeze into a team that wasn’t equipped for such depth.
“We only had one coach for six girls,” she said. “We knew someone was going to get cut.”
Now on her own, she spent the summer working out with John “J.C.” Cole, the human performance director at Ski & Snowboard Club Vail.
“It was the best summer I’ve have in four or five years, so right off the bat I was stronger than I ever had been before,” she said.
Ghent went to Mount Bachelor in Oregon, with Ski & Snowboard Club Vail, went to Europe with the Canadian men’s alpine team and trained in Chile with a few former coaches.
“I got some sweet speed training (in Chile), and then it just funneled into the season,” she said.
Her recent podium finish, a third-place finish in the downhill in the Zauchensee, Austria, Europa Cup comes at a level just below World Cup and is a step in the right direction.
“It’s reassuring more than anything else,” she said.
THE INDEPENDENT ROUTE
Traveling with her and doubling as her coach, Abby’s father Brad Ghent, a longtime local and former ski racer himself, said things are looking up.
“It’s exciting to see her getting out of her comfort zone, and in doing so, she’s skiing faster,” he said. “She needs to continue to prove herself and be in that zone where she’s going as fast as she can. Having the confidence now with the results behind her, she should be able to do that.”
So far this season, without a team, Abby Ghent and her father are making the independent route in ski racing look promising. But it’s a lot more challenging than it looks, she said.
“It’s very expensive,” she said. “That’s the only thing … But I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t think I could be successful on the World Cup.”
Visit http://www.abbyghent.com to learn more and offer your support.