Skiing taught me how to love myself & my body

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard is from a recording of a speech made by Baz Luhrmann at a commencement ceremony in 1997. His speech consisted of several small simple pieces of advice based on his life experiences and what he’s learned. The speech is amazing as a whole, but the one part that really stuck with me is:

“Use your body in any way you can. Don’t be afraid of it. Or what anyone thinks of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.”

This really resonated with me because he’s right, our bodies are amazing things. They take us where we want to go, help us communicate, help us to comfort others. Our bodies help us to feel, do, see, hear, and taste. They help us to do our favorite things in the world. My favorite thing to do on this planet is to ski. And I need my body to ski. 

I grew up in Vail Colorado. It’s a special place. But no one knows how truly special it is unless you’re a true local - and what I mean by that is if you’ve grown up there. The generation before me: my mom & dad - most of them are humans who moved to Vail to be a ski bum for a “little bit”…but they never ended up leaving. Most of my friends’ parents fall into the same category. My friends on the other hand - they are all like me. TRUE born and raised locals. 

Not everybody grew up skiing, but if they were privileged enough to do so, they probably loved it. Luckily, I was fortunate to grow up skiing. My parents started putting me on skis between ages 1 & 2, so I don’t really remember learning how to ski. I’ve always just kind of… done it. I competitively raced in alpine skiing while growing up. I was never the best at it but I really enjoyed doing it. I got to travel around the state to different ski mountains to race against others and although I enjoyed every minute of it,

I still struggled with self confidence regarding the way I looked when I skied. 

Haley & Teddy recovering from knee surgery in 2011

Confidence is a struggle as a woman, even today with all the body empowerment/self love movements making their way across the media. As a ski racer, you have to wear skin tight “speed suits” that help with aerodynamics. Basically they help you to go faster. I was never the skinniest, most fit person growing up, and I always struggled with my weight and never thought I looked good in my speed suit. But once I got on that course and started flying down the ski hill, none of that mattered anymore. I wasn’t thinking about how I looked or what people thought of me. All I thought about was the adrenaline and passion I had, feeling the wind in my face and the motion of my body making its way through a race course. Unfortunately, my competitive racing came to a halt when I blew out my knee and needed reconstructive knee surgery. 

Blowing out my knee was a rough experience, but it helped me to realize that my body is an amazing thing. It also made me realize how much I love skiing. You can’t ski without a body and to me, I can’t have a body and not ski. This was around the time I heard Baz Luhrmann’s speech and it gave me hope and courage and confidence that I am beautiful, my body is incredible, and I NEED my dazzling body to ski!

So, I healed, and the minute I could get back on the slope I did. I applied for a job with Beaver Creek Ski School, got the job, and continued pursuing my passion of skiing with my beautiful body. This piece of advice by Baz Luhrmann helped me forget about my lack of self esteem. It encouraged me to use my body in every possible way I can. It reminded me that yes, everybody is beautiful and the way we heal from injuries is spectacular.

We cannot let injuries or self doubt get in the way of things we love. And I love to ski. 


Haley & her ski team friends dressed up in Haley’s mom’s old ski outfits

I love every part of skiing. I love the outfits, the snow, the cold air, the adrenaline rush, the memories I make with all my friends, the apres beers, and the new people I meet along the way. Skiing is when I am most comfortable in my own skin, it makes me who I am. There’s really nothing like it. Being outside, encompassed by white snow and evergreen trees with the blue sky above and the sun beating down blessing me with a goggle tan, surrounded by good people and good energy. Skiing makes me feel my most beautiful. Skiing makes me feel my most confident and sexy. Skiing has taught me so many things but the most empowering thing it has taught me is how to love myself and my body. Because without my body, I would have never been able to ski. 

Haley W.

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