This year, I made a few big changes in my life. One was resigning from teaching after 16 years and supplementing my photography business with educational consulting. That big career change has allowed me to pursue both my photography and education passions simultaneously, and has given me increased flexibility in my schedule to support my family as they pursue their own passions... and it has given me more time to snowboard. ;)
Our entire family snowboards. This shared passion is part of the glue that keeps our family so close. All three of my daughters are alpine snowboard racers, and my oldest daughter, Kaiya, is now competing at the international level. I was able to accompany her recently as she raced in her first North American (Nor-Am) Cup events of the year at Buck Hill Resort in Burnsville, Minnesota.
There were four events scheduled over the span of three days (three "big" Nor-Am parallel slalom races, and one "junior" Nor-Am parallel slalom race). The temperatures ranged from a high of 20 degrees on Friday, to a low of -40 degrees on Sunday (including the wind chill). It was so cold on Sunday morning that the races had to be delayed until the temperatures rose above -20 degrees so that the lifts could operate.
Kaiya finished 14th on Friday evening (her first ever evening event under the lights!), 2nd on Saturday morning (only missing first place by .02 seconds!!), 6th on Saturday afternoon (after a heartbreaking DQ), and 7th on Sunday. I'm so proud of her performance in all of her races that weekend, especially considering that she wasn't able to train on gates prior to the races because of the lack of snow here on the east coast! The last time she practiced in gates was last June at Mt. Bachelor, Oregon! It's hard to describe the range of feelings I experience on race days. Leading up to and during any given race, there's an exhilarating (and exhausting) combination of anxiety, excitement, joy, heartbreak, happiness, suspense, and pride. Lots and lots of pride. Looking through my camera and focusing on taking pictures during her races helps keep my anxiety (somewhat) under control.
Kaiya's 2nd place finish was her best Nor-Am finish to date, and resulted in her first time earning a spot on the medal podium (and the first time she won prize money)! Kaiya's next Nor-Am race will take place at Steamboat Springs, CO in two weeks. Her younger sisters have a race coming up at Camelback Mountain in the Pennsylvania Poconos next weekend. I'm looking forward to an amazing season for all three "SnowSurfGirls"!
If you happened to be at Buck Hill and saw me waving and pointing like a crazy woman every so often, it's because I was signaling to family and friends who were watching the race via Buck Hill's webcam. They asked me to wave whenever Kaiya was coming up next, and to signal which lane she would be racing in. ;)
Here are a few photos of Kaiya from her races at Buck Hill. I wish you all could have been there in person!