​Why I’m Grateful For Skiing

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Psyched on life, and so much more Tony Pavlantos celebrates above the Davidson Glacier in Southeast Alaska. Kt Miller photo.

I’m sitting in a hotel room on my way home from working with polar bears in Northern Canada. Sometimes I feel like an alien working in the flatland, because for years I have identified myself and find purpose and justification in life through skiing. Sometimes I wish it wasn’t so. I try to remind myself that it’s just a silly sport where we slide on sticks down snow. Mostly the purpose is purely to have fun, but the reality is, for me (and many others) it is so much more than that.

Silence and solitude en route to Flower Mountain outside Haines, Alaska. Kt Miller photo.

Skiing has shaped who I am. I would be a very different person without it. It provided the playground through which I discovered myself as a child. It was a friend and constant companion as I grew from a girl into a woman. It taught me how to deal with fear and challenges, how to get back up after falling down, and how to explore and move through the mountains. The ski area was always a place I could go. I went there the day after my high school sweetheart dumped me and I cried myself to sleep. I remember spinning laps the morning after I got in trouble my freshman year and my parents didn’t know yet. It gave me time to figure out how to deal, to think through how I was going to move forward, and what I was going to do and say. Skiing was therapeutic. The movement of skiing was soothing.

That moment when everything comes together perfectly. Martha Hunt getting face shots above Kangerluarsunnguaq Fjord, Greenland. Kt Miller photo.

These days, I’m grateful for the ways skiing allows me to experience the natural world—how my feet can carry me deep into the wilderness, where challenges and beauty continue to alter my perspective of what the world is and what the world needs. I’m gratefully for the freedom of movement and overwhelming pleasure of floating effortlessly down a fall line. I’m grateful to experience such harmony with gravity.

Skinning through the glorious alpine of the Julien Alps. Enrico Mosetti, Molly Baker, Brigid Mander, and Liza Sarychevski marinate in the beauty of Italy. Kt Miller photo.

I’m grateful for the friendships that I have formed along the way. Sadly (or perhaps not) most of my good friends are those who I ski or spend time in the mountains with. The bonds of such experiences transcend ‘normal’ life.

Mostly, I’m grateful that I have the opportunity to ski. Skiing is my passion, whether I want it to be or not. It is practically part of my DNA (thanks dad). Some people have not yet found that ‘thing’ that makes them excited to wake up every morning, and others do not have the luxury. I’m grateful to have the chance to fall in love with such a unique activity that has come to inspire and guide my life.

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