It takes a special person to identify that giving back is a valuable component of what it is to be a professional athlete; it takes an even more special person to find ways to act upon that tenant. Today in Saas Fee, Switzerland, members of the Killington Mountain School Women's Alpine team were the lucky recipients of a world class athlete --and person-- giving back to the sport. Michelle Gisin, Swiss Alpine World Cup athlete and gold medalist at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, Korea, treated the KMS group to the gift of an amazing Q&A session and dialogue about her experience as a ski racer.
Gisin, who is also in Saas Fee for training to prepare for the upcoming season, spoke of the process of becoming an Olympic gold medalist, and the highs and lows of the journey. She talked about setbacks being some of the best things that happened to her, because they taught her valuable lessons that she otherwise wouldn’t have learned, and they were lessons that led to success.
Gisin said a turning point was her experience at the Women's World Cup event in Killington in 2016, where she barely made the top 30, and then found herself questioning whether she’d ever make a podium. Three weeks later she achieved her first World Cup podium in France, and says that the experience at Killington taught her to put everything in perspective, and to be appreciative just for the experience and the opportunity to be standing in a start gate. She spent an hour with the KMS athletes and then another hour with the coaches, leaving the entire group awed and appreciative.
KMS Head Women's Alpine Coach Martin Wilson commented on the experience, "Michelle was incredibly open and gracious with her time and insight. The way she could articulate the struggles of the sport and her ability to manage those stresses had a huge impact on the team. It’s comforting to know that her challenges are the same as ours. Hearing her speak of her gratitude for the process was invaluable and will go a long way for our team. We are truly grateful for the opportunity to connect with Michelle today."
KMS Alpine athlete Izzy Jenne reflected on the opportunity to meet with Gisin, "It was very kind of Michelle to speak with us. She talked about her love of skiing and how she balances her career and her life, and also about differentiating who she is as an athlete and who she is as a person. I'm so grateful that she took the time to sit down with us."
The KMS crew left the talk ready to get back on snow, continue putting in the hard work, and even more mindful of the gift it is each time they are able to enter the starting gate and push forward into the possibility ahead.