I’m on the phone with Shannon Bahrke. You know, the Freestyle skier with the ready smile and colorful hair who skis moguls with the energy of the Roadrunner and the Tasmanian Devil combined. I’m calling Shannon to talk about her mom.
It’s April and I’m preparing a post for Mother’s Day. In December, I briefly met Shannon at the dedication of a new exhibit at the U.S. Olympic Legacy Park museum in Park City, Utah. When Shannon made her remarks, the first person she thanked was her mom. As a ski mom myself, I was impressed and moved by what she said. So, in honor of all ski moms, I thought I’d find out a bit more about Shannon and her mom, Trilla.
But first, I discover that even a world-class athlete with Olympic medals, has mundane moments. This is one. “I’m cutting turkey right now at Silver Bean Coffee. We’re really busy. Can you call back in an hour?” she asks in the nicest way. Of course I can, sister. As a mom, I know a bit about feeding hungry people. Go cut that turkey.
An hour later, things have slowed down and Shannon has time to talk.
BSM: When I saw you at the U.S. Olympic Legacy Park museum, the first person you thanked was your mom. Let’s talk about her.
SB: My mom is THE BEST. She really got me started in skiing. We grew up in the mountains, but my parents, Trilla and Dick, were from L.A. They started skiing at a late age and they wanted to get me and my brother skiing early. So, when I was three, my mom took me to Homewood. We always had fun together and that’s what got me started.
BSM: How did you get involved in competition? What was your mom’s role?
SB: When I was 12, one of the coaches of the Squaw Valley freestyle team asked me to join. My first thought was “no way.” But then I did it and got into freestyle.
My mom is a lawyer and she could make her own schedule, so pretty soon, she was the mom driving everyone on the team around. She would put 12 of us in her little car, drive to Heavenly and watch practice. She would bring food for the entire team: dinner, lunch, whatever we needed. She was our Team Mom. She also took on the volunteer work for the team, like head of scoring.
She is a huge supporter of me and my brother, Scotty (who competes in aerials and recently won his first World Cup). But she never pushed us.
BSM: You left home at 17, made the U.S. Ski Team and began competing across the globe. How did your mom support you then?
SB: My parents have been to every Olympics and they haven’t missed a National since Scotty and I started, however long ago that was. One time, my mom sewed red, white and blue hats that said “go Shannon” on them. While I abandoned good luck charms, my mom never did. She has lucky socks, lucky underwear and lucky jackets. Sometimes I see her and think “Oh my God, mom, what are you wearing?”
BSM: We’re talking about your mom, but clearly, both of your parents are and support you.
SB: Yes, they have. What is so amazing about my parents was that we weren’t the richest kids on the block. We weren’t your typical ski family that just sent the kids to camp. My parents made so many sacrifices for us. We didn’t know anything else but skiing. We didn’t know about family vacations. Looking back, I see how much they gave up and it really means a lot to me. The places I’ve traveled and the things I’ve done would never have been possible without my parents.
BSM: Let’s talk about your business, Silver Bean Coffee.
SB: I love it. People come in before they go skiing, they come in to hang out with their friends, to sit down and catch up. It’s something I really cherish.
You know, my mom always tried to work for what we wanted and she’s the one who made it possible for me to start a business. She was a businesswoman and did everything herself. She gave me the inspiration and strength to help me do what I want to do.
BSM: It’s almost Mother’s Day. What would you like to say to your mom?
SB: Thanks to the best mom in the whole world, who has never doubted me and who is always at the finish line, giving me a hug whether I did good or bad. You are the most beautiful and inspirational person I know, inside and out.
Shannon Bahrke is a U.S. Freestyle skier who owns and operates Silver Bean Coffee with her husband, Matt Happe. You can try their coffee, and turkey too, at two Utah locations: at the bottom of Big Cottonwood Canyon near Salt Lake City and at Utah Olympic Park, in the museum. They also operate a coffee roasting business.
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