Letter From AST Alumni: Chris Scheele
A (Partial) Lifecycle of a Skier from Northern Alberta
I just wanted to take a few minutes to share some of my story as it relates to Alpine Skiing and the great impact it has had on my life.
Like many others, I started skiing at a very young age of 2 or 3, and immediately I fell in love with the freedom and speed of skiing. I then started racing at the Snow Valley Racing Club in Edmonton around the age of 6 and never looked back. I often wonder if my parents (not being ski racers themselves) could have ever imagined the impact this sport would have on all our lives. I specifically think of the continual sacrifices and commitments they made just so that I could continue to compete in the sport I grew to love.
As I got older, into the U16 age (K2 back then) the commitments began to grow, and the toll began to be overwhelming as a family living in Northern Alberta with a sizable and frequent commute to the mountains. At age 16 the decision was made that I would move to Calgary without my parents in order to pursue the sport and to make things a little more efficient for the dedication needed. Looking back, it’s almost hard to imagine that I did this. The continued support of my family back home, and the support of the family, friends and teammates that developed in Calgary during that time were so impactful on my overall life.
Ultimately through making this move and continuing to work hard in my training and skiing, I was eventually able to make it onto the Alberta Ski Team for a brief time and continue doing what I loved, at what would be the highest level I reached in my skiing career. But that was far from the end for me. Immediately after making the difficult decision to pull back from competitive skiing due to an injury, I came back to my home club and got involved with coaching. I feel very fortunate to have been able to continue coaching on and off through many life changes, such as while pursuing post-secondary education, starting new careers and businesses, and starting my own family. Coaching at different commitment levels based on the different stages of life has allowed me to work with athletes at almost every age level over the years.
Beyond just coaching, for me there has always been a special bond with the sport in general. I honestly feel that my love of ski racing has only continued to grow deeper since retiring as an athlete. The joy of skiing itself is truly remarkable, and I have always enjoyed staying connected with the sport, whether it’s staying in contact with past teammates or fellow coaches, eagerly reviewing results, or cheering on the sport in general. I have always continued to see myself as a member of this community.
One of my favourite things to do is share my passion with others; whether friends, family, athletes, or even now with my own children. As much as I love this sport, and recognize that I would not have been shaped into the person I am today without it, the decision to encourage my own children into Ski Racing was not one that I took lightly. Knowing the commitment, sacrifices, and just sheer time and energy that would ultimately be poured into it is certainly intimidating. However, in my heart, I knew that it was an easy decision, and after half a season of my daughter in the U6 program I know it was a great choice as I witness the delight and enthusiasm she shows every week down at the hill.
Through all these years I have never really considered my involvement as “giving back” to the sport, but more so it has felt like I have just been able to continue doing what I love to do in different capacities -and in this I know I am not alone. Seeing the amazing coaches in Alberta that are choosing to support the sport they love, or even looking at the many familiar names on the Alberta Alpine Board. We clearly have some great people who are wholeheartedly behind this sport, and remain involved because of their passion for alpine skiing. Recently, I had the opportunity to support on another level with a small financial sponsorship to our new club Rabbit Hill Ski Club. No doubt that we all may have different reasons to give, and honestly if I hadn’t gone through my own mental shift on generosity, I likely wouldn’t have even considered the opportunity. But when I took time to consider what this small donation would mean to me, to the club and to the sport, it was clear that this was the kind of giving I wanted to prioritize in my life.
I will forever be proud and grateful to be associated with and involved in this sport and will continue to embrace my changing roles; from Competitive Athlete, to Coach, Parent, Sponsor, Volunteer, and Advocate. What an opportunity we have to harness the love that so many others share for Alpine Ski Racing and empower them to share their passion for the sport. I am so encouraged when I see others involved in our sport, who are primarily motivated by the impact the sport has had on them and the passion they have for it.
My hope is that this story can be celebrated and replicated. There are so many amazing people involved at all different levels of Alpine Skiing. Yet, I also imagine there are many that lose touch with the sport at certain stages in life. If we can continue to further develop ways to empower members of our community to stay involved in the sport they love, we will build a more dynamic, united, and unstoppable sport & community.