When Marta Morris was ten she broke her leg ski racing. “Suddenly she couldn’t ski, or do her other sports, and we had to help her use up some of that energy. The doctor cleared her to use a spin bike. It turns out Marta loves spinning and so that spring she joined a cycling team,” explained Marta’s mom, Stephanie.
I was talking with Stephanie about how she and her husband Johnny have raised two poised, intelligent, funny, talented daughters, who excel in not one, but two demanding sports. Stephanie continues,” The girls like to be together and Birgit didn’t want to be left out.” So by mid-season of that summer, Marta’s younger sister Birgit, then 8, had also joined the Two Rivers Cycling Team, out of Silt, Colorado.
Four years later, at age 14, Marta Morris is a Category 3 road bike racer who placed second at Nationals last summer in Augusta, Georgia. She is also a member of the national JETCycling Junior Women’s Elite Team. Birgit is a junior bike racer in Colorado. When I asked Birgit about her best finishes last season, Birgit put it plainly, “I got two firsts.” As for ski racing, did it go by the wayside? No way. Both Marta and Birgit qualified for the USSA Junior Olympics as 11-12 year olds and both hope to qualify again this year. Oh, and they’ve also taken up Nordic skate skiing.
As if this isn’t enough Marta, an 8th-grader, swims on a junior team at Colorado Mesa University and Birgit plays lacrosse and bow hunts with her father. Both girls are outstanding students. In fact, doing well in school is the carrot that drives the athletics. “We let them miss school when they need to for races and special events,” says Stephanie. “But they have to stay on the honor roll.”
And When Do You Rest?
Chatting with Stephanie, I am beginning to wonder if the Morris family ever sleeps. I also wonder about the Morris parents, Stephanie and Johnny. I know they are proud of their daughter’s achievements, but I have to ask: How do they balance all of this activity and stay sane? Do they ever regret devoting so much time to these sports?
Stephanie just laughed. “I would say that for both cycling and skiing, the sports have kept our family together. We have bonded around activities that we all understand and enjoy.”
In fact, Stephanie was a high school ski racer in Minnesota and Johnny raced bikes at the University of Colorado. So for the Morris family, skiing and cycling aren’t spectator sports. Instead, they are family activities in which they all participate.
Adds Stephanie, “While Johnny and I aren’t ski racing, we are gate keepers and referees. We’re active in supporting our clubs and other ski and bike racers. During cycling season, I ride along with some of the younger riders as a chaperone, while Johnny has started racing again. Some kids on the team don’t have bikes, so we share equipment to get them out riding. This is something all of us love and we can do forever.”
It Has To Be Fun
And what about Marta and Birgit? What do they think about all the time they’ve devoted to these sports?
“I like ski racing best,” says 7th-grader Birgit, “Even if I’m not feeling psyched to ski, I just remember the times that I’ve won and that feeling gets me pumped up.” So far this season, Birgit’s best finishes include a second in Super G and a second in Slalom at regional USSA races in Colorado.
As for Marta, her focus is shifting more and more toward cycling. “I just really like having to work hard for the feeling I get when I go riding. I like the feeling of the wind and getting to go to where ever I want. It is really different from anything else.” This doesn’t mean she’s giving up ski racing anytime soon. “I’ve been skiing for so long and I hope to always have a passion for it,” says Marta. “I’m really proud that I made the Junior Olympics as a J4 (age 11-12). Lots of kids tended to drop out when they were younger. I stuck with it and made it fun for myself.”
And therein lies the key to the Morris sisters and their family’s success. For them, ski racing and bike racing are fun. “If it’s not fun, they won’t do it for long,” explained Stephanie. “Even kids who are super good when they’re little will quit if the sport isn’t fun. We want our girls to have a lifelong passion for activity and adventure. That’s our goal. I ski better when I have a smile on my face. I know they do too.”
To read more about Marta Morris and the JETCycling Junior Women’s Elite Team, follow Marta’s blog at http://mmontheline.wordpress.com.
In March, both Marta and Birgit qualified for the USSA Junior Championships for the Rocky Mountain/Central Divisions. Birgit won the J4 girls’ slalom and placed 4th overall.
© 2012 – 2014, braveskimom. All rights reserved. Any use or publication of content, including photos, requires express permission.