To introduce myself, my name is Madison Lord, I ski for Middlebury College, and I spent the last two summers training with ISRA.
I’m so grateful that Ferg and CK decided to create ISRA for women who want to pursue their potential in ski racing and that they have chosen to staff the team with highly qualified female coaches. When I was considering taking a gap year to develop my skiing back in 2015 there were limited options as a female. My options were to create my own team ($$$) or join a PG program at a ski academy. Meanwhile, boys in my class got to select from a wide range of options, including elite private teams equipped with technicians, pace, and an international racing schedule. Not to mention the nationally sponsored University team…for men only. The lack of teams available for young female athletes to continue their ski racing career after the age of 18 is a reflection of this “washed up college skier” stigma that, put simply, boys don’t have to face at the end of high school. In fact, boys are encouraged to continue developing their skiing whether that be during gap years or while taking classes at a university. They’re not told to kiss their professional ski racing dreams goodbye once they are rostered on a college team.
Returning to New Zealand after a lot of ups and downs in my own career, I found myself comparing present me to past me, PG athlete to college athlete. I realized that the “chill college girl” vibe has helped me so much with my skiing. Approaching ski racing from a team perspective and pursuing challenges outside of ski racing has freed me from being results oriented and has ultimately reignited my love for the sport. The support and love I feel from my Midd teammates during training, in the start gate at races, and even all the way down here in NZ has made ski racing more than making the national team or trying to win a NorAm Cup. It’s made ski racing fun again. I’m proud of my team at home, our work ethic and passion for each other within skiing spreads to everything that life has to offer beyond this tiny world.
Skiing with ISRA felt just like skiing at home, which has been an amazing experience and I feel so lucky to have been surrounded by women with such bold intentions for the past six weeks. It has made me realize that while the “college girl” attitude has helped me tons, I bought into the idea that my college career is all that was left for me. I counted myself out (like the statistics do), when the truth is that plenty of women (and men) have moved from the NCAA stage onto professional careers. Any coach, teammate, or parent can tell you that they see potential, but it only becomes powerful when you see it in yourself and believe in it. The coaches and athletes that make up ISRA have created an empowering and professional team, providing a program unlike any other and a pathway for women that did not exist before. ISRA has unlocked a door that should have been opened long ago by developing a supportive team that fuels belief in yourself - which is pretty much all you need when you click into your skis.