Stop Comparing and Start Competing
When I was really young (like 6), I had a Soccer Coach that wasn’t just someone on the team’s dad, but an actual High School Coach for a soccer team working with us. He said something and my mom has repeated it many times since then. “I’ll take a good player with great work ethic any day of the week over an exceptional player with a crappy work ethic.”
We all know that there are several snowboarders out there that are just flat out gifted. Unfortunately, we spend too much time comparing ourselves to exceptional riders and thinking we don’t or won’t measure up. What we often don’t see is that they didn’t just pop out of the womb with a Snowboard on their feet and an Olympic Medal around their neck. It took hard work and dedication to get where they are/were, regardless of how naturally talented they were/are. For many of them, it took even more hard work to overcome some of the “natural” obstacles in their way.
Let’s take Faye Gulini as an example. Not your typical Boardercross rider, right? Actually, you’d look at her and think, she’s built more for Halfpipe or Slopestyle at 5’4” and 125 lbs, yet in 2010 at the age of 17 she qualifies for the Olympics and in her debut finished 12th in the world. Four years later she finished in 4th place, just off the podium in the 2014 Olympics in Russia. She made a decision to be a world class Boardercross Racer and she put in the time and effort it takes to successfully compete against women taller and bigger than she is. She doesn’t compare herself to other riders and never uses her diminutive size as an excuse, even when gravity isn’t as friendly to her as it is to others. She does the work and makes the most out of her technical skills on the snow to give her the best advantages she can have.
You can also look at Australian, Scotty James, who at 6’2” sticks out like a sore thumb among the halfpipe male snowboarders where the average height is around 5’6”. He secured himself a place in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver at the age of 15 and placed 15th in the world. In the 2018 Olympics in Japan, he took the bronze medal among some seriously tough competition. Though Scotty James may first get noticed because of his unusual height for a Halfpipe rider, he always makes sure that the only height you are concerned with in competing against him is the height he gets off the top of the Halfpipe.
Ester Ledecká, from the Czech Republic, was told you can’t do Alpine Ski and Alpine Snowboarding, you have to pick one or the other; otherwise, you will never be able to be great in either. What if she had listened to those people that said it couldn’t be done? She loved doing both and refused to give up on either. In 2018 at the Winter Olympics in Japan, Ledecká, at 22 years old, won gold medals in the super-G in alpine skiing (on borrowed skies in her Olympic debut for Alpine Skiing), and in the parallel giant slalom in snowboarding, becoming the first person to win two gold medals at the same Winter Olympics using two different types of equipment.
These are some examples of riders that could have looked around or listened to others and said, I’m never going to be great at this, let alone the best, because I’m too (fill in the blank: tall, small, big, skinny, short, diversified, etc.), but they didn’t. They didn’t let others define or stereotype them. They decided they were going to go after what it is they really wanted to do and put in the work to put them at the top of their field.
So decide what it is you want and put in the work to get there. Stop comparing and start competing.