The sound of my alarm startled me awake.
The wind was whipping outside my window and, with half-opened eyes, I peered through the blinds to see that my truck was covered in snow. I checked the temperature—21 degrees—and laid there for a few minutes, fighting the urge to pull the comforter over my head and drift back off to sleep. Nope. I needed to show up today. So, I slithered out of my toasty cocoon and suited up in the gear that I laid out the night before.
As skiers, we often set goals that require a lot of self-motivation to reach the point of payoff—that moment when it’s all worth it. Everybody who has contributed to this magazine, and hopefully everybody who reads these pages, can relate to the feeling of elation after working hard for something. One such person is a photographer featured in this issue. It was late one night when I reached out to say that we’d like to publish one of his images in print. I got a response, almost immediately, saying that he was “doing a happy dance” around his home office, thousands of miles away. He’d reached a payoff, likely fueled by days (or weeks) of planning and a long day shooting in the backcountry. Not to mention, years of honing his photography skills.
We often fill the pages of FREESKIER with the fruits of these labors but don’t always give enough real estate to the processes that bore them. Whether it’s a photographer’s careful planning, an up-and-coming street skier’s complete determination or the leaders of an apparel brand setting out to change the fundamental way that ski gear is manufactured, there are countless stories that lie underneath the surface.
I make my way outside, shivering in the icy wind as I clear the snow off my windshield. Unfortunately, today’s activity isn’t so much of a thrill as it is part of the process. I’m enduring the cold November air as I make my way to physical therapy—or some version of it that falls in between your typical rehab and a rigorous football practice. A little over a year out of knee surgery, I’m opting to continue working with a trainer because I’ve set my goal and I’m almost there. Soon I’ll be back on skis and it’ll be time to do my happy dance for a small personal victory. The payoff.
As snow starts to stack up in the mountains and we drift back into winter during an undoubtedly strange time, hopefully you’re adopting a reinvigorated sense of intent, setting a fresh goal at the top of your mind. Maybe it’s educating yourself on backcountry protocols and buying a new setup for the season ahead, finding a lesser-traveled resort to visit or making a long, sweeping pow turn on the face you’ve been eyeing for years. Whatever the goal, be sure to remind yourself that the reward is always worth getting out of bed on those chilly mornings.