Think you’re (insert favorite U.S. or Canadian skier’s name here) biggest fan? It’s no competition when you’ve got mom to compete with, and the feeling is mutual for many North American national-team members.
Some of the top skiers in the U.S. and Canada have more to thank their moms for than just good genetics, so we asked in honor of Mother’s Day:
“What role did you mom play in your development as a skier?”
“My mom obviously played a huge role in my development as a skier,” Devon wrote in an email.
“My mom was the first person to teach me how to ski and even volunteered as a Bill Koch Youth Ski league coach during my early years of racing. So she taught me lots of things including how to ski without stopping at every intersection to eat snow and also technique fundamentals. As an older skier she and my dad have traveled almost every year to one of my international races including all the way to Japan in 2007.”
“My Mom has been a huge positive influence on my career as an athlete. She helped me develop a love for being active and a love of the outdoors early on and has always been my biggest cheerleader. Growing up she taught me to challenge myself and stay committed while also giving me the freedom to explore different sports and activities. She is still one of my favorite training partners. Being pregnant this past winter and now having newly become a mother myself, I have so much appreciation and respect for my Mom. It’s fun to be able to share my journey into motherhood with her by my side.”
“My mother has played a tremendous role in my development as a skier. She is my number one fan, my number one believer, and my number one cheerer. She taught me to love the outdoors, love the competition, and love the achievement. In my opinion, behind every wonderful athlete is a wonderful mother! My mother has always given me every opportunity to shoot for the sky. As an athlete, you have many ups, downs, and valleys in between. I am lucky in that I have someone along the way, teaching me to learn from all these experiences and love the life I have! As I have developed into an elite athlete, my mother has been the first one to push me, the first one to set the bar high, the first one to congratulate me, and the first one to remind me how big my ‘small steps’ truly are. I would never be standing where I am now without the support and belief of my mother!”
“My mom is my best friend. She’s been by my side for every major moment in my life, from the second that I was born. She is always the most supportive person in my life… she sees through me when I’m questioning myself with a hard decision (and always recommends the most logical path), and she is always up for an 8 hour adventure in the backcountry when nobody else is (which, at 60, makes her pretty badass). I’m proud to say that I learned everything worth knowing from my mom. Happy Mother’s Day!
“My mother’s passions in life include skiing, sewing and animals. I was introduced to all three at a young age, though I never did take to sewing. My mother first took me out skiing in our backyard when I was about two. She put me on a pair of little wooden red skis and gave me some bamboo poles. It was the start of many skiing adventures in the field behind our family’s veterinary clinic with our dogs. My mother came to almost all of my races when I was growing up: lollipop, BKL festivals, high school, and college carnivals. She is still one of my biggest fans and tries to come cheer at couple World Cup races each winter. When she can’t be there in person, my mother will wake up at 4 am if necessary to watch the race live on Eurovision. And if it happens to be on during the workday, she plays the race at her veterinary office so many of her clients have become biathlon fans, too. One of my mother’s favorite stories to tell is ‘how to count to 5 in French.’ During the sprint race at the Sochi Olympics, my parents befriended some French fans next to them in the bleachers. They all started cheering for me. When I came in to shoot, they counted along as I hit each target: ‘Un…deux…trois…quatre…cinq.’ When I came in for the last shooting, I was having a great race and in contention for a podium. They started cheering again as I hit my targets: ‘un…deux…trois…quatre…’ Then I missed the last very last shot and my mother yells out ‘SHIT!’ And all her new French friends echo her and yell ‘SHIT!’ Ever since, that’s been our joke about how you count to five in French.”
“My mom has always brought so much positive enthusiasm and energy to my skiing. She was always cheering loudly and excitedly for everyone in the race regardless of whether that person was having the best or the worst race. We have a tradition that started when I was young where she very enthusiastically says ‘Have a GREAT race!’ and gives me a big hug before every race I do and I still love to hear her say those words before my races!”
“I started ski jumping when I was 5 years old. The sport had me hooked from the beginning. I was so hooked in fact, that the afternoon ski jumping sessions at Howelsen Hill just weren’t enough. So I convinced my mom to help me build a ski jump at home. She probably thought this would be a great way to keep me busy. Little did she know she was about to become my coach which was a full-time job. In order to get more jumps my mom would pull me back up to the top of the jump with a ski pole. She would then go to the landing of the jump and mark my distance. We would do this for hours! At a young age I was tallying up 30 jumps after school with my mom. Every single day. If you add that on top of the scheduled training, I was getting WAY more jumps than all the other kids my age. Could this be the reason why ski jumping has always been my strength in Nordic Combined? Possibly. Was this the beginning of me being a total mommas boy? Absolutely. I love you Heidi Berend! Happy Mother’s Day.”
“My mom, Pat, played a huge roll in my development as a skier. She’s always been super active and into the outdoors; backcountry skiing, hiking, biking, even volleyball (despite being vertically challenged.) Naturally I ended up following in her footsteps and have also grown up to love spending my time much the same way. Biathlon is a family sport, and for many years both of us just saw it as something purely for fun, she even did her share of master’s racing against the other Alberta moms. Eventually for myself biathlon morphed into a career and she has always supported me the entire way, from newbie kid pulling up the rear at Alberta Cups to World Championships medals.”
“My mom played a huge role in my development as a biathlete. Aside from her unconditional support for my newfound passion, when I was younger she would always go the extra mile to make sure I made it to every training session no matter when or where it was. I used to live in Calgary, which is an hour drive from the Canmore Nordic Centre, and she would make sure that her weekly schedule was built around driving me back and forth 3 or more days per week. My mom is the major reason I was ever able to make it to my training sessions.”
“Our mother has played a vital role in our development as athletes,” Bryan wrote. “Thinking back it’s easy to remember the hundred and probably thousands of car rides to and from training and competition. Then I think about the financials of putting two kids through the winter sports club and it’s truly a selfless endeavor. She made a lot of sacrifices to make sure we had what we needed to succeed in the sport and that is not always easy! Material things aside, the most notable memory is that of encouragement and support as we pursued our dreams. That is what being a parent and specifically a mother is all about. She let us reach for the things we wanted and that’s the reason we are where we are today. … I was lucky to grow up with a mother who cared so much. Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!”
“My mother was a huge influence in my skiing career. My Brother and I were both filled with energy so she thought it would be great for us to go burn it off after school at the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports club. She was always there to pick us up after training or drop off us off. She was the one that would take us to competitions in Park City or Winter Park when we were too young to go in the club vans. She was the one that would comfort us when we were bummed after a jump or race. It is safe to say, I wouldn’t be where I am now without my mother. She kept my brother in the club when he was young and fighting Leukemia. That was what got me started in Nordic Combined after I saw how much fun my brother was having. Most importantly, she was the one that would foot the bill every single winter when we needed new equipment and airline tickets. As all parents know, Ski racing is never cheap whether your alpine, cross country, nordic combined, or Ski jumping, but she made it feel like it was a necessary expense. As far as I am concerned, She was my biggest coach and rival as she was constantly pushing me to be the best, and to see the light at the end of the tunnel when things were tough.”
“My mom spent a ton of time driving me to ski practice, summer training and races, getting me out the door on time and dressed warmly enough as a kid to never freeze! To this day I can always hear her voice during my races when she’s there cheering for me, and I know I can always count on a big big hug after every race, which means so much to me. She’s going to love me no matter how my race goes, as long as I’m having fun doing the sport I love, which keeps me grounded and enjoying sport. Thanks Mom! Both my parents have always been, and continue to be, incredibly supportive and encouraging. They introduced me to skiing through the Minnesota Youth Ski League in Willow River park, and took me out on the trails in backpacks before I was old enough to walk. I grew up around skiing, and because my parents gave me so many opportunities to get out on cool trails and fall in love with being outdoors, I get so much enjoyment out of skiing! They have never ever pushed me to do anything, but always got me to practice once I decided it was what I wanted to do. Because of their support I never got burned out and still have the same passion for skiing that I did as a kid!
“My mom has played a really positive role in my development in a skier. Neither of my parents ever put pressure on us as ski racers and I think that’s one of the main reasons we love skiing as much as we do. My mom has always been one of my biggest fans in ski racing and she’s there for a hug or a phone call regardless of whether I won the race or blew it. She’s spent many hours in the car driving to watch us ski and is one of the faces I’m always happiest to see after a race.”
“My mom has always been my #1 cheerleader, no matter what sport I was doing she was so supportive in me following my dreams. Driving me to no where’s vile Alberta for a ski or biathlon race. Watching me swim back and forth in a pool. Chasing a soccer ball across a field, she was always there with a hug on the good and bad days! My parents were both really active and had a passion for the outdoors and that was passed onto [my siblings] Chandra, Jordan and me. Our adventures were always filled with great stories and good snacks to keep the kids entertained! Hiking around Lake O’Hara or back country skiing at Mosquito creek, there was always some outdoor activities on the weekend and through the summer. Even now my mom has been setting an example that at any age you can achieve great things. She has completed her Pilates teacher training and is a Pilates Method Alliance certified instructor working at a studio here in Canmore. My parents are the reason why I get to travel the World and compete in a sport I love and I can’t express my gratitude to my mom enough, she has motivated me every step of the way. Taught me to be a strong women who isn’t afraid to stand up for her self.
Love you mom!”
“I have a really amazing, loving, supportive family and my Mom is right in the middle of it! She played a huge role in my development skier. For me one of the most touching memories was a conversation when I was 18. My parents had pushed me to take biathlon seriously and make the next step into a high performance program but I was struggling with the transition. I remember I was crying and uncertain if I wanted to continue sport full time. Anyways, I remember discussing the options with my parents, and at some point my Mom told me that all they really wanted was for me to be happy and that I had their support regardless of whether I chose to pursue sport or whether I was successful as an athlete. Of course I already knew that, but somehow hearing is outloud that I, as a person, was more important than any result gave me the confidence and determination to continue the program… a decision that I am very glad I made! In recent years my Mom has flown over to Europe twice to support me….once my mom and Grandma actually came over together for 3 weeks to help look after my then 2 year old son so I could train better!”
“When I joined the GRP after skiing at UNH, [Craftsbury head coach] Pepa [Miloucheva] cautioned, ‘I know your mom is really involved, but she will have to stay out of the wax cabin in the winter.’ I laughed because neither of my parents are cross-country skiers and my mom would NEVER set foot in a wax cabin. Apparently the whole GRP had watched the 2011 NCAA championship live stream, on which my mom famously live-commented continuously in ALL CAPS from her home in Florida. (‘GO CORY FEED MY GIRL!’) My mom IS really involved, in the right way: she cheers the loudest and proudest, for me and the people around me. Her best advice? Resting is half of winning.”
“I really wouldn’t be where I am today without my mom (besides the obvious birthing part behind it). She is the source behind my competitive drive; she’s the most competitive person I know! Her saying is ‘Well, if my daughter can do that, so can I!’ and proceeds to break her pull-up PR’s. She has shaped this joy around racing that has stuck with me. Although I may not remember it, she was the one who taught me how to swim, which as the first competitive sport I was involved with. I’m forever thankful that she encourages me to chase my dreams and supports me along the way. While I continue chasing the Olympic Dream, one of the things that keeps me motivated is picturing my mom (and dad, because I know he’s reading this too!) in the crowd cheering me on as I race in my first Olympics. I think that would be one of the best feelings in the World, and a very emotional event for the both of us. If you’re reading this mom, I hope you have an amazing Mother’s Day. I’m lucky to call you my mother, and I love you so much.”
“In 8th grade, I eventually gave into my mother’s suggestion that I try nordic skiing and it turns out that Mom’s do always know best…
My mom has been a crucial training partner, adventure buddy, cheerer, and supporter during every step. Maybe I was just a golden teen, but in reality, I think I spent less time fighting with my mom because we were able to spend time hiking, biking, and skiing together. We were able to build an understanding for each other through our mutual love of being outside.
When going through both compartment surgery and knee surgery, she was not only a supreme caretaker, but also spent countless hours hiking up the resort and taking the gondola down with me just to keep my company as I was building my strength back.
She has always been the person I call to share good races and bad and to help me navigate the tough decisions as I have grown up and moved through the different steps of ski racing development.
I think it is a special skill to be able to support your kid without pushing them or making them feel pressure to do certain things. I am lucky to have a mom with that ability.
I am also lucky to have a brother who spends his limited vacation time traveling to see my race so we can still manage some family vacations with my hectic schedule.
“When an athlete has a great day, a typical interview goes as follows: here’s how the event went down, I’m really proud, I worked so hard for this and knew it could happen, and, also, thanks for all the support that got me here. Not to say that supporters are an afterthought, but they’re not what we tend to bring up first. On any day, but especially Mother’s Day, we should remember that our careers would be impossible without our selfless parents. Growing up as a skier in the Midwest meant many hours on the road traveling to different venues each week. In the car, I was usually sleeping, reading, eating or relaxing, while my mom was at the wheel. Even after I had my drivers license, my mom would continue to drive the mid-week trips to St. Paul and Minneapolis for an evening jump session, which gave me time to do homework on the way. Now, the commute has expanded across the country, as my brother is in the Winter Sports High School in Park City, UT. Over the past couple years, my mom has probably made the trip a dozen times to give him (and me) the support that a young athlete needs. Of course, my mom’s support goes far beyond an on-demand driver. She knows what makes me tick better than anyone else, and believes in me even when my own faith falters. For me, the cliché ‘you can do anything you set your mind to’ comes directly from her. At the end of the day, that kind of infinite support is the building block for success. Next time someone congratulates me after a good day, I’ll try to consider this first. And on the days that no congratulations are deserved, I can guarantee that she’ll still be there for me.”
“My Mom has played a major role in my skiing career, let’s just say without her there is no possible way I would be anywhere near where I am now. It all started when I was younger starting my career at Howelsen Hill as a part of the Steamboat Spring Winter Sports Club and she was the one driving me to training everyday after school. The support she gave me as I came up through the club was unforgettable. She came to every competition and often times volunteered to help get the competition off smoothly. It didn’t matter to her where I finished, all that mattered was the fact that I was having a blast everyday. Without her guidance I doubt I would have fallen in love with the sport of Nordic Combined, she taught me to enjoy each and everyday of it. As I got older it progressed to weekend trips to Park City for competitions, she would crush out the drive so that I could catch up on homework on the way home. She may have been rather worried when I traveled to my first World Junior Championships solo to meet the rest of the team, but she didn’t fail to be supportive and psyched for me to be pursuing new goals! When I began traveling more and more she was extremely helpful when it came to helping me make sure to keep up with school work. She has been with me every step of the way and been extremely supportive of every goal I set and try to chase down. Without her support and guidance I would not be the athlete or person I am today. So Thank you so much Mom!! Love ya!”
“My mom gave us every opportunity to be involved in as many sports, music lessons, and activities that we wanted. Between me and my brothers, we were involved in many. My mom was a superhero mom driving us to and from each activity to the next. We even started referring to Wednesdays as ‘Crazy Wednesdays!’ She encouraged me be my best, but not in a way that put any pressure on me. She also shared her passion for the outdoors, as well as to enjoy life to its fullest and always have some fun. I would not be where I am today without her unconditional support and love. Thanks Mom! Love you!”
“I got my mom to thank for everything! She helped me fall in love with sport and when I decided to pursue skiing full time she made sure I could make ends meet until I made the national team. Her passion for the outdoors has made me appreciate everyday I get to spend training outside with friends, thanks mom!”
“My mother was my first coach and has always been a large part of my development. From getting me out on skis when I was young, to teaching me to love the outdoors. Since she first brought me into the sport, my mother has been my coach on and off, as well as being my go-to person for waxing, overtraining and technique. She is the constant throughout my career and is largely responsible for my technical gains over the last few seasons. As a coach and mother, there is no one better! Happy Mother’s Day Mom!”
“My mom started it all! She introduced me to cross-country skiing and was the one who encouraged me to join the Telemark racing program. She took me to all of the Jackrabbit practices (most times with the promise of a Wendy’s cheeseburger afterwards) and cheered loudly on the sidelines of race courses. We road tripped all over BC and Alberta together, excited for yet another weekend of junior ski racing. Even now that I’ve moved away and am racing internationally, she is still there at every race cheering loudly and holding her breath for every shot… Only now its from a live stream on her computer at two in the morning! Lots of love and gratitude for that woman!”
“My mom played a huge part in my biathlon career. I think one of the biggest roles of parenting is identifying when your kid becomes interested and enamored with one activity or another, and giving that child the support and encouragement to keep at it. I became obsessed with nordic skiing and biathlon at a young age and my mom supported me every step of the way, from the lollipop ski course, to the Olympics. It is a selfless act, and one for which I am eternally grateful!”
“My Mom provided support, belief and love as the building blocks that have helped me to pursue whatever I was passionate about. It happened to be skiing, and from a young age, we always went alpine skiing as a family on the weekends, which turned into race weekends, and eventually led me to Burke Mountain Academy. Though it was there that I tried nordic for the first time, I was always encouraged as a kid to follow my heart. Sometimes it is hard to do, as some choices are hard to make, or hard to figure out how you really feel. My Mom is a guide for me in this. She is so positive, listens well, and provides incredible advice, heck, she provides Mom advice, which is one of a kind. I am so fortunate to have been encouraged in all the ways my parents encouraged me. I loved the outdoors, in many capacities, and I know it is because it’s where we were when I was growing up. We were playing outside in the mud, the tall grass until we were red and too itchy to continue, the snow, the water. And as I write this, the rain is pouring outside, and I have to say, I can’t wait to get out into it. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. Thanks for showing me by example how to follow my passions and love the outdoors.”