My wife always tells me that if I would just tell her all the complex things that I am thinking, she would no longer have trouble understanding the things that I do. She will never pass up an opportunity for a road trip with me because, according to her, that’s the only time I REALLY talk to her. Something happens after a long stretch of lonely road, the walls come down, and suddenly I have no problem sharing thoughts from the deepest recesses of my mind. I guess it would be nicer for the people I am close to if I was just a little bit more open, but I have been this way my whole life and it is not an easy thing to change.
The problem is that I would rather think than speak. I would rather listen to an argument than participate in one. I like to think deep, and I like to analyze, but I certainly would not want you to know that is what I am doing. I would rather think long and give you a well formulated answer than say the first thing that comes to mind. For most of my life I have hidden my personality behind the cloak and dagger of a quiet shy kid. How else would I be able to catch you off guard? I have always wanted to analyze and know peoples motives before I give them even an inkling of my own. My approach has its advantages and disadvantages. It means that only a select few people have been willing to spend enough time with me to get to know who I really am. The friends that I keep are select, loyal, and I would give my life for any of them without a moment of reservation. I trust this group of people so much that I would do anything that they earnestly asked of me, and I believe they would do the same for me.
The down side to being selective and careful about sharing my thoughts and friendship is that most people don’t understand me. If someone wears their personality on their sleeve and is quick to tell you what they think about anything and everything, they will be easy to get to know. You can decide very quickly if you like them or not, if you trust them or not, and if you ever want to spend time with them again. It is the quiet ones that you have to watch out for. Theirs are the motives you can never be quite sure of, and you never know when they are going to blow your mind with some soft spoken wisdom. People will often think that I am shy, or rude, or anti-social. Many people even think that I am boring. I promise you that I am none of these things. Ask my wife, who calls me the Tornado.
So how does this personality fit in to being a professional skier? It doesn’t fit at all, and it fits perfectly. It is my God given personality and work ethic that have enabled me to achieve the success that I have. I have always wanted to be better at what I do. I have never really cared what other people were doing, or what they thought, I just wanted to be the absolute best skier that I could be. I always figured that if I kept getting better, eventually my skiing would speak for itself. I didn’t take the time to make sure that everyone liked me along the way. I didn’t take the time to talk myself up to everyone I met like I could have. I didn’t have a lot of people hyping me up. I was never the talk of the town like my peers were. Most people, even people in the ski industry, didn’t even know who I was until I won the X Games.
People ask me often if I regret my approach. I haven’t turned as many heads, inspired as many people, or made nearly as much money as I could have if I had done things differently. My answer is always an adamant no. I admit that I have made many mistakes, but it is the way that you learn from your mistakes that makes you who you are. There were times in my career that I almost let the industry change me, the way that it has changed and corrupted so many before me. This was the only way that I could stay true to myself. I am proud of what I have accomplished. A close friend and industry insider once told me that I was the first skier that ever got invited to X Games based on competition results alone, not hype, not talk, and certainly not by what influential people I knew. Politics rule the world and the ski industry, and if I have loosened the hold that politics have on the game even just a little bit, then it was worth it. Plus I have developed some really amazing relationships with sponsors who saw more in me than others did. So thanks 4FRNT, O’Neill, Smith Optics, US Freeskiing, Fischer Boots, The Antos Agency and Max McManus, the next couple of years are gonna be worth it!
A long time ago I adopted the mantra: “They can’t ignore me forever.” It is true, they really can’t ignore you forever, but if you are not one of your homies they certainly will try. Derek Taylor recently wrote an article for ESPN The Magazine, chronicling how even after winning 3 out of 7 of the major pipe contests last year, people still don’t talk about me much. I haven’t suddenly moved to Hollywood or signed any million dollar contracts. Does that bother me? Not in the slightest, if anything it just gives me more fire. Here is one thing that I will say: I love skiing, and I feel truly blessed to be able to do what I love for a living. I want to give everything that I possibly can give back to this world that I live in. This post is my commitment to being more open to the world. I no longer fear losing myself to this game, if I did my wife would just whip me back into shape. I want to share with anyone who will listen the triumphs, let downs, and challenges of my life. Hope you enjoy it!”