My name is Emiko Torito; I’m a girl who didn’t make the Olympics. Of course, that’s not the first thing I put on my resume, but NOT making the Olympics may be one of the most monumental things I’ve ever done…and it’s opened my eyes to what skiing really means to me.
Here’s a little background: I’m a mogul skier on the US Ski Team. I’m taking a year off after a failed attempt at the 2010 Olympic games. I’ve had a fairly successful career; I’ve won a World Cup, made top five on the World Cup overall, and been National Champion. I’ve been on the US Ski Team for 10 years. But for all my successes, I’ve missed the Olympic team three times.
This particular year, I felt more prepared than ever. I had two top fives and I got second at Olympic Trials. Then, I separated my shoulder in a huge crash at the Calgary World Cup. What would be a small shoulder injury was catastrophic for my career. As hard as I tried, I could not finish a run. I simply couldn’t perform as I watched my dream quickly slip away.
As I recall this experience, I’m amazed that I’m not in tears. A year later, I’ve healed a lot. I’m about to compete in the Subaru Freeskiing World Tour, finishing my last year of college, coaching on the weekends, and trying to decide whether or not to go back to moguls…
I’m busy enough that I don’t think about moguls every second, yet it’s something that I carry with me everywhere. I can vividly remember sobbing in the woods as my heartbreak overwhelmed me. Then the next moment, I can see the skyline from the top of a mogul course, and feel the sensation of coming in fast for a backflip. Soon I’m ready to commit again. Moguls, here I come!
Of course, the pendulum in my mind doesn’t seem to stop. So I decided I would just keep moving: keep skiing to be exact. In the time I’ve had off, my world has become much bigger. I’m realizing how much more there is to life than an all-consuming goal. The world is BIG. So I decided to ski the big mountain.
Tomorrow I drive to Crested Butte where I’ll get the chance to stand in the gate again. I’ll be on my big Hart skis and I’ll choose any line I want. Freedom is on the mountain, and the anticipation is killing me!
Of course, I’m super nervous. I don’t know many people or exactly what I’m doing, but I think that’s the best part. It’s time for me to be afraid and take some risks again…
And as for my next big risk, I’m not sure what that will be. I don’t know if I’ll be able to go back to moguls after this time off, but skiing big mountain is going to be a great way to feel scared and excited again. For all the pros and cons of going back to World Cup, one thing is sure; I love the feeling of standing on top of a mountain. The big mountain challenge is thrilling to me; I’ll get to feel all those wonderful feelings in a whole new way: the wind on my face, the butterflies in my stomach, and the feeling of doing what I love the most: ski.