Blake Snow

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Downhill skiers are crazy. And poor—at least the good ones are

After rediscovering them again during this year’s Winter Olympics, my respect for downhillers soared. Reading this 30 year old piece on the history of the event makes me respect the sport all the more. From the article:

“I can say that the ideal downhiller must be a little uppity, a little arrogant,” Downhill Charlie says. “I love that type. He has to have guts, and he should always be plenty nervous before the start. And then, too, it doesn’t hurt if he is born poor, because when a skier’s born poor it is in his nature to want to get ahead. Yes, take the poor ones—Klammer, Moser-Pröll, Nadig, Wirnsberger—they all came from tiny villages, from poor parents, and they wanted to prove they were someone through performances on the mountain.”

And Mill, viewing his own breed from the nice, silent place inside his helmet, says, “I see us as thrill-seekers. We enjoy our adrenaline rush. Every year, when spring comes and the racing season ends, I realize we are adrenaline junkies because all of a sudden there is no thrill, no downhill to run, and we don’t know what to do with ourselves. It’s crazy. You feel crazy. You have anxieties when you don’t have that speed, that rush of adrenaline.”

Straight up awesome—this coming from a recreational snowboarder.