Sophie Caldwell- US Ski Team and SMS T2 Member- shares some advice to her younger self, and all of the developing and aspiring skiers out there. Sophie is a pretty spectacular role model. Not only does she ski fast (6th place in the Olympics, World Cup Champion, and currently sitting seventh on the overall World Cup sprint ranking), but she spends a lot of time giving back and working with the younger generation. We couldn't ask for a better athlete to represent the T2 brand.
There are many things that I wish I could have told myself when I was a younger racer, but in general, I think I was very lucky when it comes to being introduced to racing. I think the most important factor in ski racing is having a healthy relationship with your sport. When I began skiing, it was purely as a recreational activity. I would go out on ski adventures with my family that included many breaks, snacks, and conversations. When I began racing as a lollipopper, the results didn’t matter. What mattered was getting to the finish line to receive my lollipop! As I grew older and became more of a competitor, the social parts of skiing were still very important to me. Skiing was something I enjoyed doing with my friends and family and racing fast was something I was able to do because I enjoyed my sport and worked hard.
I believe that in order to become a successful high level skier, you need to be able to fall in love with the sport itself before you fall in love with competing and winning. Doing well in something you love is a lot more rewarding than doing well in something just because you’re good at it. I would advise young athletes to find something they’re passionate about and have that passion be what drives them to success.
If I could go back, I would also remind myself over and over how important it is to be confident. I think athletes often underestimate how much of sport is mental. It’s easy to question just about everything when it comes to competing, but when I toe the start line, I ski the fastest when I go into a race with confidence. When I first started racing on the World Cup, I was racing against all the skiers I looked up to and I would hope that maybe I could keep up with them that day. I’m still on the World Cup racing against all the skiers I look up to, but I toe the line with the confidence that I belong there. If you ski each race like you could be on the podium, eventually you can get there whether it’s a college race, JOs, or a World Cup.
Lastly, as cliche as it sounds, happiness is the biggest key to racing fast. Before the Olympics, my dad sent me an email that said “remember that you ski the fastest when you’re happy.” The races at the Olympics could have been the races where I put the most pressure on myself, but instead, I soaked up the experience. I was like a little kid in a candy shop in Sochi. I was so excited just to be there and I skied some of the best races of my life.
I think these all go hand in hand. Having a healthy relationship with sport makes a happy skier. A happy skier is a fast skier, and a fast skier is a confident skier. Finding the balance of all these things is the trickiest part of being an athlete, but I truly believe it’s the key to success!