A great article by former Olympic Emily Brydon.
I thought it was a far-fetched concept that hurling myself down a mountain at 140 kilometres per hour would be a skill that could transfer into the classroom and, later on, to the corporate world. I was wrong.
Even now, six years after calling time on my professional skiing career I’m amazed at how many transferable skills a professional sports career has given me. The lessons I’ve learned through almost 30 years of winning and losing, of overcoming obstacles, of setting goals and working to achieve them have become the backbone to who I am, and have been essential in forging a path beyond the piste.
From an early age, skiing was my life — from competitions in my youth, to spending over 13 years on the world stage. During that time I was fortunate to be able to represent Canada at three Olympic Games in Alpine Skiing. However, like the majority of careers in competitive sports, this vocation was short-lived — at least in comparison to jobs in other industries. I did my best to prepare myself for when that day arrived.
One thing I had learned through years of competition was to make the most of the opportunities that were presented to me. It also enabled me to fully appreciate the importance of mentors in my life, who had given me tough love and challenged me to be thirsty and ambitious. I wanted to be able to pass both opportunities and guidance on to others. These ideals gave me the inspiration to launch my own Youth Foundation, leveraging my status and success to raise funding and provide support for young people wishing to pursue sports, arts and education.
Despite the success of this, when I retired from the slopes at the ripe old age of 30, even with nine World Cup podiums under my belt, I didn’t know what I could offer to society or how I could offer it. One of the hard realities of retiring so young from such a competitive industry is that your personal identity is often so intertwined with your professional personality that it’s hard to separate the two. I found myself asking “who am I, if not the skier?” It was like starting from scratch.
Through Alpine Skiing, I had been given a gift and opportunity which would guide me for the rest of my life. I knew what it was like to work towards something I was passionate about, and was keen to ensure I continued to do so.