As I’ve written before, all moms are brave. We have to be. We are in the business of raising children into responsible adults and, as such, we have to be comfortable with risk. We also have to be willing to watch our kids fall.
Kym Kennedy is an extra brave mom, or as she is Australian, an extra brave mum. Her son Jesse is a snowboard slopestyle competitor. Not only does she risk watching her beloved boy fall, she sometimes gets to watch him crash and burn. On the flip side (and you know that there are many flip sides in slopestyle), she gets to watch him compete internationally, chasing and achieving his dreams.
BSM: This question is so obvious, but as a mother, how scary is it to have a son who launches himself from the snow into the air at a really high-speed?
Kym: As a mum, it is scary. But Jesse’s skills built up over the years. He didn’t start by going off of 50-60 foot jumps. He’s had some injuries and of course, no one likes to see their child injured. But he knows he’s living on the edge, so the risk he takes is calculated.
Jesse knows what he needs to do to stay safe. This keeps me less worried. I can let go and just trust that he’ll be safe. It’s like that with all my children. They’ve taught me as much as I’ve taught them. I know that with each of my three children, I have to allow them to be on their own personal journey and support them.
BSM: When I think of Australia, I think of beaches, the outback and the Great Barrier Reef. Skiing, not so much. How did your family get involved with winter sports?
Kym: My husband starting coming to the snowfields with a group of mates when our children were young. At that time our youngest was only six months old. My husband enjoyed it and I remember thinking, “If we start this with the family, we will have to follow through.” We have come to the snowfields at Perisher, in the Snowy Mountains, every year since then and the six month old is now 18 years old!
I am always surprised how few Australians enjoy the snow. My husband and children also surf and the sports are complimentary.
BSM: When did your children begin competing in skiing and snowboarding?
Kym: My daughter skis and she began competing in the interschool league. The boys both snowboard, and they didn’t have the interschool option, so they created a team. Jesse, especially, started to take the competition side of it. He was very passionate about what he was doing, showing signs of commitment and talent, especially for the jumps and rails of slopestyle.
Six years ago, the children and I began living in the snowfields for four months each year. My husband would come up on weekends. Perisher has the Snowy Mountains Winter Sports Club which is supported by the mountain. Soon, Jesse was involved in overseas travel and competition such as the United States Junior Nationals and the World Rookie Fests.
When our winter season is over, Jesse moves to Colorado to train and my other two children sometimes travel with him. He is working toward being on the Australian Development Team, working to build points to qualify for the Institute of Sport, which is the national team.
BSM: Was that difficult being away from your husband and home each winter?
Kym: No, I actually, really loved those winters on our own. It was my “Winter Retreat.” At that time my husband and I were running busy garage door business and we were very involved, very community-oriented. To be able to go to the snowfields gave me time with to be just “mum” to my kids.
BSM: And what about you? Do you ski?
Kym: I have skied, but after a knee injury I decided that I prefer going for a walk. I love nature and I don’t like adrenaline or racing down the mountain. I simply love the environment, our snow gum trees are spectacular.
My life has also changed and in the last few years I’ve become really passionate about personal development and I have a life coaching business.
Aside from that, I am a very proud mum to my children.
BSM: Thanks Kym! We’ll be watching for Jesse this winter in Colorado. Best of luck to you both.
Kym Kennedy is the Brave Ski Mum of Jesse Kennedy, an Australian slopestyle competitor. This year, after finishing the winter season in Australia, Jesse will spend five months competing in North America. Jesse is sponsored by Billabong and Rhythm.
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