It’s that time of year where most winter athletes are finishing up their contest seasons and looking forward to a vacation away from the snow. It’s healthy to give yourself a break this time of year and not allow yourself to think about skiing or snowboarding for a couple of weeks. The easiest way to do this is to head somewhere warm to let the ocean and beach occupy your time.

Your pale winter skin gets fried to a crisp and you tell yourself it will buff out and be tan in a couple of days—though we all know it will peel when you head back to the dry climate. Some of us feel uncomfortable with this down time because we have been giving it our all for 10 months and now all of a sudden we have free time and moments to ourselves.

I chose to have my downtime about a week ago. I had a trip planned to Austria for the Nine Queens competition and then onto Spain for the final World Cup to top off the season. About six hours before my flight was supposed to take off I cancelled my trip because my knee was just not feeling quite right and was giving me some warning signs that it was not ready for a three-week European ski adventure. It was one of the hardest decisions that I made all season and brought my emotions to a low. I knew I needed to get away from the snow for a bit and allow my mind to wander. I was becoming programmed to constantly think of the things I couldn’t do versus what I could do.  Plus, who doesn’t love getting a head start on their tan for the summer?  

My mom came to the rescue, once again, and planned a spur of the moment trip to California. 15 hours later and we had the ocean in sight. Her spontaneity always blows my mind—she had to be at work four days later but was confident that she would get it covered and if not, well then she’d figure it out when the time came. She wanted to see me happy and if a trip to the beach was going to do it then she was on board. I can rest assured knowing that my mom has my back; no matter what, she is willing to drop the world to see me happy.

Lying on the beach for five days gave me an ample amount of time to think about life and what direction I want mine to head in. We spent a day at Disneyland and I allowed myself to act like a kid and laugh until I was on the verge of peeing my pants because my mom screamed throughout the entire space mountain ride. I would get off every ride with tears in my eyes from laughing the entire time and look over and see my mom wiping those same laughing tears away. In just a week I had gone from not wanting to ever return to PT or the gym to feeling fired up about getting back at it and getting this knee of mine straightened out. My mom knew exactly how to dig me out of my hole and put me back on the top of a mountain where I belong, chasing my dreams.

I knew the best way to jump back into things was to head to Park City and start working with the U.S. Ski Team at the Center Of Excellence. I packed up my skis, bike and hockey skates and made the all too familiar drive from Colorado to Utah. I have six weeks before our next training camp in Mammoth to get my body and mind in their respective places. It is shocking what a week in the sun with family can do to change your mindset.