A Winner From the Start
Within minutes of starting Shut Up and Ski: Wipeouts, shootouts and blowouts on the trail to the Olympic dream by Edie Thys Morgan, I knew I was going to love this book. In addition to being a fine writer and ski journalist, Morgan is a former member of the U.S. Ski Team and two-time winter Olympian (1988 and 1992). While she carefully explains that Shut Up and Ski is fiction, the book is so touchingly imbued with her own personal experiences as to be irresistible.
Morgan knows what it’s like to hurtle down an icy slope at 75 mph. She also remembers what it’s like to be a young woman, full of self-doubt, jealousies and insecurities. It’s the insider’s look at ski racing that will make you pick up Shut Up And Ski. But it’s the insider’s look at a very real young woman trying to balance competition, injuries, friendship and success that will keep you reading.
A self-described “writer, author, editor and raiser of children,” Morgan and her husband have two sons, ages 11 and 13. In addition to raising and coaching her own young ski racers, Morgan also raises other people’s kids as a coach at the Ford Sayre Ski Club at the Dartmouth Skiway in New Hampshire.
As a writer, she is regular contributor to SKI, Ski Racing and Skiing Heritage magazines.
As an author, she could not have had a better fiction début.
Chasing the Olympic Dream
Shut Up and Ski is the story of rookie World Cup racer, Olivia Sharp, as she tries to make the 1988 U.S. Olympic Team. Sharp has had some pretty good luck along the way. Despite knee injuries that have set her back, nasty team politics, and a revolving door of national coaches that has harmed the whole team, Olivia’s got a great family.
The book begins with Olivia, aka “Little Person” chasing her brother Jamie down the slopes of Jackson Hole in a family downhill race. As the youngest in the family, a position Olivia shares with author Morgan, she has to ski straighter, tuck tighter and be braver, if she’s going to keep up with the family and ultimately best her brother. Bravery she’s got, but luck isn’t with her this time as she catches an edge and wipes out. Still, in this taste of irresponsible speed, a ski racer is born.
Some Excellent Parents
When my husband saw a book about ski racing titled Shut Up and Ski on my nightstand, his first question was, “Is that what her father says to her?” Short answer: no, it is not.
Sports parents get a bad rap, some deservedly. As ski racing parents, we’ve seen behavior that is almost impossible to explain. So, it wasn’t surprising that my husband might make this assumption.
Luckily, in this story, Olivia’s parents are supportive and loving. Throughout the ups and downs, the wrecks and rehabs, the Sharp parents are there for both Olivia and Jamie, who is at loose ends after his racing career ends, as well as any of their teammates needing a ride, a meal or a place to mend after surgery.
A Terrible Coach
Olivia and her teammates are not nearly so lucky with their head coach, Ken. Morgan goes out of her way in the introduction to disassociate Ken from any of the “incredibly supportive coaches battling in the trenches” in 1987-88. And that’s a good thing, because Ken is a terrible coach. He is less concerned about the well-being and success of his team, than with fundraising, courting the media and building his own legacy.
With him at the helm, it becomes clear that the team has no guiding focus or philosophy. Inexperienced racers are thrown into dangerous situations, talented veterans are jettisoned, and the team fights against itself rather than striving together for victory.
Friendships and Rivalry
At every level, ski racing is an individual sport masquerading as a team sport. One racer’s misfortune is another racer’s advantage. Coaches respond differently to different racers. Ski company reps work for their athlete, with a laserlike focus on shaving hundreds of seconds off of each run. Still, as shown by this story, friendships grow amongst rivals. And even the most competitive women sometimes need an unlikely friend and a strong shoulder upon which to lean.
Read This Book!
Well-written and compelling, Shut Up and Ski is a great read for anyone, skier or not. While I loved the inside look at World Cup racing, the bulk of the book is really about the relationships amongst family, friends and competitors.
While it would be easy to say that the book is a coming of age story, it isn’t. Olivia Sharp and her teammates are already of age and surprisingly mature. This doesn’t mean they don’t have fun, break rules and fall in love with the wrong people. It’s just that they’ve seen more, suffered more and sacrificed more for their dreams than most of us will in a lifetime.
Was it worth it? You’ll have to read the book and see.
But I can tell you this. Reading Shut Up and Ski was definitely worth it. I can’t recommend this book enough.
Shut Up and Ski is available as an old-fashioned paperback book for $13.95 from Amazon. Amazon Kindle format is $2.99. Other e-reader formats are found at Smashwords for $2.99.
Look for more from Edie Thys Morgan this year in Stitch Mountain, a forthcoming book on knitting to benefit the United States Ski Team.
To facilitate this review, I received a proof copy of Shut Up and Ski from author Edie Thys Morgan. As always, all opinions are my own and are exactly what I would tell my family and friends.
- Book Review: How I Came to Sparkle Again, September 24, 2012.
- Book Review: Skiing the Edge, April 17, 2012.
- Book Review: In Search of Powder, March 5, 2012.
- Book Review: The Next Fifteen Minutes, by Kim Kircher, October 4, 2011.
- Book Review: Powder Dreams, A Novel by David Ward-Nanney, September 29, 2011.
- Some Good Reads for these Long Winter Nights (The Ski Diva Mysteries by Wendy Clinch), November 24, 2010.
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