Page 1

A Downhill Battle by Isabella Graziani



Table of Contents Dedication

Pages 4-5


Pages 6-7


Pages 8-11

Chapter One

Pages 12-15

Chapter Two

Pages 16-19

Chapter Three

Pages 20-23


Pages 24-27

Work Cited

Pages 28-29



shoot in kirkwood


Hanna, sofia, kalya, Haliey, James, Danel, Coach Tim on “The Wall�

I would have to dedicate this book to my dad and Freestyle Academy. My dad because he was the one that got me up in the mooring and drove me to the mouton every weekend which allowed me to be able to experience this different sport. Freestyle Academy because with out every one at freestyle this book would not have been possible



Dominic ski racing in Mammoth


Holly, Coach J.B., and Hanna on chair five

Coach Mark on chair five

I never had a choice to know life without skiing. My dad threw me on skis when I was only eighteen months old. From that point on skiing was an integral part of my life. At first I never understood the commitments and sacrifices that I was making. All that was requested of me just seemed natural; a way of life. Only after having a physical injury, which kept me from my daily, weekly, and monthly commitments, did I realize the amount of time and energy I had spent on one single goal. Through my own reflections and discussion with other competitive athletes and research I came to realize a general lack of awareness about what ski racers have known and lived. In order to expose this awareness to the general public I had to interview people for the ski racing community; a couch, a current racer, and an ex racer. These three people gave massive insight on the challenges and sacrifices that they had to face to be competitive in the sport. In addition to my interviewees I also had to research what is ski racing and what do people think it is, the competitiveness of sport nowadays, and what sacrifices are. Ski racing is a sport that should be known for its competitiveness, sacrifices it forces people to give, and magical sensation it gives people who have the ability and opportunity to do it. 7


Sofia ski racing at Mammoth


One who has never been exposed to ski racing had no idea of the sport or cul-

ture. The textbook definition of ski racing is “A race between people wearing skis.” (free dictionary) You might be thinking that sounds familiar, but ski

racing is much more involved from the lifting of weights during dryland training to standing in a starting gate on a peek of a mountain preparing to hurl yourself down a forty-five degree slope all with the metal preparedness to be

the fastest. Provided by the website Livestrong, “Ski racing tests the skier’s athletic ability, strength, endurance, courage, and agility in a number of events.”

In the sport of ski racing, there are four events: Downhill, Slalom, Giant Slalom (mostly referred to as GS), and Super Giant Slalom (mostly referred to as

super G). Downhill is probably the hardest and scariest event in ski racing. In a downhill race, the ski racers have to ski down a very steep hill, a “down-

hill run” while skiing around gates and maintaining the correct “aerodynamic” position. In downhill, the ski racer only has one run to get the fastest time

without being disqualified, falling, skiing off course, or not skiing threw the necessary gate. Slalom is the event that is short, fast motions, consisting of

sharp turns around a long plastic pole called a gate. (Gates are in every event in ski racing, and the ski racer has to maneuver threw them in a certain way

in order to complete the course. Downhill, Giant Slalom, and Super G all have

the same type of gates, two long plastic poles with a colored flag in the middle holding them together. Slalom only has one gate.)

In Slalom, the ski racer

has to hit the gate with their hands and shins. This is called cross-blocking. Slalom is very equipment orientated, if you don’t want bruises on your face,

hands, and shins. The discipline, Giant slalom is just a bigger version of Slalom, hence the name Giant Slalom.


Giant Slalom, however, has different gates, equipment, and the ski racer picks up a lot more speed going down the hill because the hill is steeper. Super G is a lot like Giant Slalom but has a longer course and a much steeper hill. Super G has the same gates as Giant Slalom and is almost as steep as downhill. In order from the smallest turn radius to largest it goes slalom, Giant Slalom, Super G, and then Downhill. Now understanding the fundamentals of ski racing, one has to think about waking up at five a.m. to train in weather that is seven degrees. Having to strip down into nothing but your aerodynamic spandex suit when you were freezing to begin with. Having to ice your arms after going so fast that when the racer hits the gates but the arm guards don’t protect you. Ski racing is not just people racing with skis on, ski racing is so much more than that. Ski racing is the blood, pain, fear, and sweat that ski racers put in training. Ski racing is running your hands under hot water because your fingers are purple. Ski racing is that sport that everyone thinks they can do but never have the guts to try. This is what ski racing is to kids all over California and the world, kids like me, my dad (a kid at heart), my competitors, and my teammates. In addition, ski racing has the addicting rush of adrenalin that comes from knowing that no one can stop you.

Jack, Tulie, Ben, Haliey, Dannel, Sofia, Kalya, Hanna, Dominic, Carly, Lindsey, Jack B., Coach Tony, and Coach J.B.


Now that you know more about it, what is ski racing to you now? You’re probably thinking a sport that involves racing other people on skis, having to do with hitting plastic poles, and getting frostbite. Sofia, an eleven-year old

girl and current ski racer at Bear Valley, said ski racing to her “is an es-

cape from the world and if you are having trouble with school you don’t really have to think about it, you can just get your mind free. It’s just a really relaxing sport. It is really peaceful and meditative, but it is also really

intense and you have to have a lot of the same expectations that your coaches want you to have.”

Ski racing can mean a lot or a little to different people.

Many in the United States have tried to stereotype the typical ski racer, such as an affluent upper middle class. This stereotype might be fitting, but the

stereotype easy or casual is one that people should not have. Most who carry these false ideas have no understanding:

the intensity, dedication, and after

all the hardship and physical as well as mental what causes people still want to be a competitive ski racer, and that is my job to give you insight into this great sport.

Jordan traing at Bear Valley


Chapter one The intensity of ski racing compared to other sports

Kendal traning at Bear Valley


A competitive sport is an activity that requires you to practiced so one is competitive and prepared to compete at the highest level. There are many competitive sports in the world such as soccer, basketball, baseball, and even curling. Organized competition is not new to mankind. Competitive sports have been around since ancient times; the Mayan and Inca Indians competed to the death. The Greeks started the Olympics as an opportunity to showcase each Greek Regions best athletes. The First World Competition was the modern day Olympics in Athens 1896. In order to be competitive, the athlete has to give up, sacrifice certain parts of their lives to dedicate that time to their chosen sport. Take soccer, for example, the athlete has to devote two days every week and maybe one day on the weekend of their time totaling 4 to 6 hours a week. With baseball, its tournaments on the weekend and hitting practice every week might be a total of 6-8 hours per week. To ski racers every weekend is the minimum commitment and full the time to the sport as the maximum commitment to reach the national level. To be a competitive ski racer you have to be on the mountain go up every weekend in the winter or optimally living at the mountain skiing 6 days a week. To be a competitive ski racer you have to do summer camps in Oregon and New Zealand or Chile. Ski racing is not like soccer or baseball; you don’t need to change your life for MVLA soccer, but you do for ski racing. Nowadays sports have become a greater part of the American Society, playing a major role in kids lives. “According to The Center for Kids First, 30 million to 40 million children get involved in organized sports in the course of a year� (Livestrong) teens and twenty-year olds are not the only ones competing in very competitive sports anymore, its young children. Heavenly race


Being a kid who always was participating in some physical activity, I would have to say by far ski racing was the most competitive. Why you might ask? Because in ski racing you are not only competing against another ski racer your age, but you’re also competing against their parent’s checkbook and their parent’s willingness to give up schooling and other life experience. As Shelby White, a former Ski Racing and current coach said, “There are some stage moms in ski racing. The moms that are very into it and push their children a little too hard.” Also, like parents, in order to be competitive, you need the top coaches, the newest equipment and the fastest skis (two sets per event). You need to be able to drive on the fly every weekend to event and races or send you child to a ski academy so he or she can live in the snow to train full time. This 4-month academy can cost as much as $35,000 per season not including travel cost. You need to be able to afford summer camps. Lastly, you will need to have excellent medical insurance, including Medi-flight because your kid has a good chance or breaking an arm or leg. The costs is exponential and adds up all the while the athlete could end up with a broken arm and/or in last place. Soccer is not like this you can be good at soccer without having the best cleats. When Sofia was posed the question, “to be a competitive ski racer what do you have to do or have?” She answered, “Well you have to have the proper equipment which means the boots, the two pairs of skis, the skin guards, the padding, the speed suit, the gloves, you have to have the helmet, proper clothes, the mouth guard so you don’t just run you face into a pole. Kendal racing Slalom


You also have to stay up every weekend to train, stay in shape throughout the week. When your at school sometimes, I run laps to stay in shape. You have to miss school a lot like every Friday, like my teacher always gets mad at me for missing the afternoon.� For instance, to be a competitive ski racer, Sofia has to give up her social life, grades, and being a kid, but is willing to make this sacrifice to be at the top of her age level.

J.B., Holly, and Sofia setting the corse


Chapter Two The Sacrifices Ski racers have to make to be at the top

Kyle, Dom, and Matt receving awards


Every activity that one does in life involves giving up something. Whether it’s giving up the free time, the ability to do what you want when you want, giving up things, letting go of the comfortable and easy is difficult for everyone. The definition according to Webster dictionary giving up or sacrifices is a verbal act of admitting “defeat”. That can’t be easy all the time. Defeat is hard to admit for one and furthermore why should your activity defeat your social life or your free will? Will the average American Teenager give up things; such as the free will to do something that you love even more? With certain activities come different levels of commitments creating sacrifices in the participant’s life in order to participate in it. Ski racing is somewhere in between soccer, giving up one or two days a week to practice, and modeling, starving your body. In ski racing, the athlete has to give a lot of their free time, school, and the social life they had to the sport. Ski racing involves an athlete that is willing to let their lives get overruled by the sport. When Sofia Graziani was asked the question, “what do you have to give up to be able to ski race,” she stated, “Well see ski racing season is like right in the middle of winter so I had to give up soccer and I had to give up basketball. I mostly had to give up spending time with my friends on the weekends. I couldn’t do things with them because they were always staying home and like the weekends were different. I would stay home one weekend and they would be gone another weekend. Also, school is really hard because my teacher gives me a lot of homework on the weekend so when you come back from the mountains so its like you have to do that homework or else like you’re going to get a zero in that class.” Sofia had to even give up her schoolwork and good grades to compete in what she loves to do.


In today’s over the top society where school is everything and people are always trying to be better than their neighbor, the fact Sofia makes this sacrifice so she can participate in what she loves, ski racing. There are a lot of young ski racers like Sofia that give up even more than she does. Many young racers go to academies in the winter to train there all season. An example of an academy is The Sugar Bowl Academy (SBA). At SBA the kids will either live with or without their families to go to school and train to ski race. Not only do these young racers have to miss out on their friends back home they also miss out on a really good education. Though academies like Sugar Bowl do not have the best educational system and when students try to transfer the credits from the academy to their home school, their school does not always accept the academy credits. Not only do ski racers have to face things that they have to sacrifice so do the coaches. Coach Ed tells what he has had to give up as a coach and a parent. “Well, A lot of money. No but, it is an expensive sport and that is part of it, but also it’s basically for us going up every weekend, seeing other parents take sabbaticals and move their families for the winters up and doing it full time and their kids are ski racing at academies. It’s really a time commitment because the snow is three hours away for us here in the Bay Area, so there is a choice to either become a full time racer which means you’re moving your family up to the mountains or being a weekend warrior which means you’re going, but every weekend and sometimes three four days a week.”


Ski racing does not only put a bit of strain on the racer but also their parents and coaches. Both ski racer’s parents and coaches have to spend money and time traveling to places like North Star, Mammoth, and Big Bear for the races. They also have to watch their kids give up so much which can be had on them. As a parent, Coach Ed sheds some lights on the topic of family sacrifice. “Um.. My kids have a kind of grown threw it, a little bit but um. A lot of them gave up different sports because other sports became more of a year type thing, and they wanted that year commitment. So I would say sports and a lot other social aspects. I know as I was growing up I lived two different lives. One live was during the winter and the other was spring and summer so I think I have kind of seen my kids live with that and it’s a little difficult to lose connections with their friends, but in that same breath they have a whole new set of friends and a greater area of understanding that it is not just one small classroom that matters.” Ski racing is great but takes someone who can make large sacrifices to gain only a little of success but skiing is a lifelong sport.

Dom racing


Chapter Three Why ski racers ski race

Bear Valley


You might be thinking if all of these things happened to ski racers, then why do they still do it? Well, ski racing is not just all about the competitiveness and sacrifices, but the sensation one gets gliding down a mountain knowing that no one person can stop you but only nature can; the feeling of being powerful and weak all at the same time. Ski racers get an adrenaline rush from the sport, a sense of control with being on the edge of it at the same time. This is the reason ski racers put up with all the sacrifices and dangers. Where can a group of competitors understand, it is solely up to them, no one else, the hills against man and woman? The danger and understanding the race is about time, not the other competitors? The race is against the clock, not one another, thus this build a sense of community within the competitors in a very lonely sport.

Sofia racing


Every sport has a sense of community. Ski racing creates bonds that will transcend snowstorms, long bus rides between mountain resorts, and standing in 0 degree weather huddled together waiting for their number to be called. The elements are as exciting as the sport, everyone can get a rush out of everyday life and that is why ski racing has more of a sense community than most sports. Ski racers must complete intense training, emotional will and the ability to put one body in harms way. At the end of the day, the competitors are standing together talking about the feelings they felt hurling themselves down the mountain. Adversity, has brought them closer.

Haliey, Danel, and Holly




Sugar Bowl race


Bear Valley

Ski racing: One against many, man against nature, the massive amount of time needed to prepare both mentally, physically and monetarily these are the reason ski racing is the most demanding of all competitive sports.

Sofia winning a medal




Work Cited



“Are Competitive Sports Bad for Kids?” LIVESTRONG.COM. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Mar. 2013. “Give UpAbout Our Definitions: All Forms of a Word (noun, Verb, Etc.) Are Now Displayed on One Page.” Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 2 Mar. 2013. “Skiing Race.” The Free Dictionary. Farlex, n.d. Web. 2 Mar. 2013. “To Race or Not To Race? Part Two.” The Brave Ski Mom. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Mar. 2013. “USSA Training Systems.” Alpine. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Mar. 2013. “What Is Ski Racing?” LIVESTRONG.COM. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Mar. 2013.


“Know your limits and exceed them frequently”


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