As I approached the end of the chairlift with the daunting alpine section of Whistler Blackcomb directly in front of me, all I could hear myself say was “Yeah, I don’t know if I want to do this”. In that exact moment, I tripped - both proverbially and literally - over my ski edge. Before I could even take a breath, I was launching head-first towards the ski hill!
I had fallen a solid five meters down the first steep drop of the run, aptly named “Saddle”. As I looked up at the large group of strangers waiting to drop into the run, I blinked hard and tried to stop all the thoughts swirling around in my head. I thanked the ski-gods that my skis were still on and said aloud to myself “Come on Hawrysh. Get up …. GET UP!”
I will never know if any of the other skiers whizzing by heard me or not, but I steadied my poles and pushed myself up. I turned my tips down and re-committed to the moment. My heart was racing; my ego was screaming in agony, but I successfully skied myself all the way down to the base in one go. In a true dramatic moment, I arrived to a welcoming group of high-fives (yes, from the same people who just saw me eat snow moments before).
For the rest of that day, I lived in limbo between total mortification and pure motivation - but the fact of the matter is, as an elite athlete, I have always pushed myself way out of my comfort zone. And the pushing continues, especially now, in my new role as Head Coach of Skeleton at the Whistler Sliding Centre, as I need to be that elite athlete, and more. My success depends on it.
Living the life of a high performance human means that one thing in your life will remain constant: your passion becomes your everything; you do whatever possible to be the absolute best at what you love and with every fiber of your being, you will always care if you’ve done enough and where you stack up against others. Ultimately, you want to please the biggest critic of all - yourself.
The ability to hone into that focus is a skill that elite athletes practice their entire lives, even after their names are no longer up in lights. However, this mindset is not just reserved for athletes – anyone can adopt this mentality if you put your passion first. I have met countless incredible people in all walks of life who use their own passions to take everything they do to the next level, over and over again.
You don’t have to devote your entire life to one single passion in order to achieve high performance status, but the level in which you truly care makes the world of difference. At the end of the day - whether you succeed, lose, learn, fall or stand tall - only YOU get to decide if this is the moment in your life you’re truly willing to saddle up.
“Risking is better than regretting; grow through what you go through.”
Former member Team Canada, Skeleton
Head Coach, Skeleton – Whistler, Canada
…and high performance human for life!