In November of 2009, Sarah Schleper was very sure she wouldn’t be part of the professional ski racing scene by now. Well, “now” has come, and when faced with the thought of retirement, Sarah’s not so sure anymore.
The 31-year-old mom placed 14th and 16th in the Olympic giant slalom and slalom this year in Vancouver (her fourth Olympic appearance), and at this point is leaning heavily towards a return to the sport. “I think just the momentum and the results were rewarding, and I realized I could still maybe make a living off it,” Schleper said. “I think it would be too hard to give up the lifestyle of skiing and skiing for work, which is every ski bum’s dream.”
This season marked a phenomenal comeback for Sarah, who had taken a couple years off before returning last season. She had given birth to her son, Lasse, and she had also had knee surgery. “I think my comeback was really successful so far, and I’m on the upswing,” Schleper said. “And if I decide to continue, I think I have a lot going for me right now.”
It really has been quite the upswing. Sarah earned her first top-10 finish in five years in the World Cup giant slalom in Are in December. Then in January, skiing from 37th, she stormed to a top five finish in the Lienz slalom. She had struggled with slalom until that point, and even had considered quitting it all together.
But by the end of the year, she was in the top 25 in both slalom and GS. Being in that top tier means that Schleper can be among the first competitors in the race order, which is a very key advantage.
“That’s why I kind of want to continue, because I’ve worked these two years really hard,” Schleper said. “Now I’m finally up in the seed, and it’s hard to let it go.”
Although it sounds like Sarah has already made her decision, she says she’s waiting until June to make a final call. For now, she’ll relax in her hometown of Vail with her family and friends, and then head to Mexico in May for some great surfing. “I just want to wait until June and see what the team’s doing and see how I feel”, she said.