The Sochi Winter Olympics start today, which has me in an Olympic state of mind!
Today, I ask former US Ski Team member Edie Thys Morgan about her Olympic and US Ski Team experience, her current life as a coach, ski journalist and novelist, and about her most challenging job — being a mom.
You’re a mom. A ski racer. A ski coach. And, a writer. Which one of these roles challenges you the most and how do they all fit together?
Hardest role? Mom. Totally.
Being a mom totally changed my focus. As an athlete, you have to be focused on what you need and on doing your best. Everything you do is focused on optimal performance. As a parent, you’re number three on a good day and you get hammered with things you never expect. It keeps you humble.
You’re now a coach and both of your sons ski race. Do you coach them?
My husband and I both coach and when our sons were younger, we were more involved. Now our older son goes to a ski academy. We’re still involved with both boys, but in a fun, healthy way. Part of this means beating the drama. So what if it’s a big race? We try not to get caught up in the results and being outcome oriented. We want our sons to get what they want, but they have to work for it.
As a former racer yourself, what’s it like being the race parent instead of the race athlete?
I like it a lot being on the other side. It’s a little nerve wracking. When they were little, it was all fun and games, but now they are bigger, faster and stronger. I worry about the danger. I was injured a lot and I worry about them crashing and getting hurt.
Truly, being a parent has given me a totally new respect for my parents. I don’t know if they were clueless about the danger, or just had the discipline to give us a lot of freedom.
You competed in two Winter Olympic games — Calgary in 1988 and Albertville in 1992. What is your favorite memory for these experiences?
Definitely the opening ceremony in 1988. I think that walking in your first opening ceremony has to be something that is seared into your brain. At Calgary, we walked through a tunnel under the stadium. When we came out of the dark, it was all flashbulbs and the roar of the crowd. It hits you that you’re not watching this on TV. You are in it.
What stands out from your years as a World Cup racer?
This may sound corny, but it’s not the wins. Instead, it’s the memories I share with my teammates about going the wrong way in a van, stealing ice cream from a hotel kitchen, or meeting up with the Men’s team for pizza.
What I remember most are all the goofy and sometimes painful experiences — the spaces between the competition that we survived together. I have really tight and long-lasting friendships from those days.
Your novel, Shut Up and Ski, is based on your World Cup and Olympic experience in 1988. Why did you write it?
I felt like the US Ski Team during my era had a really bad rap. We were the only team in 40 years that didn’t win an Olympic medal. Because we weren’t as successful, no one tells our story. But there was a lot to that year. It was really challenging and there were some strong characters whose stories needed to be told.
What has skiing brought to your family?
Skiing is a gift. It is something our entire family does together, up and at ‘em every weekend. Instead of going in opposite directions, we’re on the same page.
There may be other sports that do this for a family, but I can’t think of many, where I can share the same experience with my 83 year-old dad and my 12 year-old son. I think skiing has given our family and strong bond and connection. We have so much in common because of the sport and I don’t think we’ll ever lose that connection.
In addition to coaching and raising kids, Edie Thys Morgan is a regular writer for SKI magazine, Skiing History Magazine and writes a column for the parents of USSA racers, called RacerNext. She recently contributed to Stitch Mountain, a book about knitting, with patterns designed by ski racers, that benefits the US Ski Team. She also writes a cooking blog: bringiteats.com.
- Shut Up and Ski (and Read This Book), April 3, 2013.
- Ten Minutes with Ted Ligety, October 16, 2013.
- Ten Minutes with Jamie Anderson, US Snowboard Slopestyle, November 8, 2013.
- Happy Mother’s Day: Shannon Bahrke Talks About Her Ski Mom, May 10, 2012.
- Colorado’s Morris Sisters Reach for the Top in Ski Racing and Cycling, April 19, 2012.
- NASTAR Moms: Don’t Just Schlep Skis. Get in the Gates! , February 21, 2012.
- How to Find a Junior Ski Racing Program, November 15, 2011.
- To Race or Not to Race? That’s A Good Question, October 20, 2010.
- To Race or Not to Race? Part Two, October 27, 2010.
© 2014, Kristen Lummis. All rights reserved. Any use or publication of content, including photos, requires express permission.