Town: Branford, Connecticut
Quote: “To live only for some future goal is shallow. It’s the sides of the mountain that sustain life, not the top.” – Robert M. Pirsig
About Victoria: I am absolutely honored to be a SheJumps jumper! Ironically, there was a time in my life I was terrified of jumping. In the literal sense. As a mogul competitor, that is a huge part of the sport. I remember being 8 years old and Evan Dybvig, a US Ski team and Olympic skier, was coaching my friends and me to do helicopters in the back of the Killington Ski Club. I crashed every single time. Landing on my side, backwards, losing skis. I hated it.
Fast forward 6 years later. The day arrived. Time to do my first backflip on snow. Sure I’ve done a bunch on the water ramps into the pool at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid. This was the real deal. The snow is not water. Well it is but, that’s not my point here…
As one of the younger kids on the team, I had to prove to myself and to the older kids that I could do this. Time to step up my game. I was dedicated to this flip. 14 year old Victoria Smith is gonna flip! Helmet buckled. Mouth guard in. Visualization set. Coach Deb ready to make the call. Teammates cheering me on. Then they fade out and all I can hear is my skis on the snow. In between each mogul, scraping on the ice, then silence on the jump, into the air, I can’t see anything, all I hear is “PULL!!!” And then it hit. My upside down body on the snow. A huge crack. My body folding like a lawn chair. And I just laid there, waved with my good arm that I’m okay, or so I wanted to pretend to be. Coach Deb is asking me if I’m alright, all I could say was, “I’m just going to stay here, but my collarbone is definitely broken.”
Now I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t laughing while recreating this moment and writing it for you all to read. At that point in my life, that was the scariest thing that had ever happened to me. I’m now 24, cracking up at the old me. That fear was instilled in me for a while. But guess what, that was my biggest fear; getting hurt. But I lived, and most definitely learned from it.
From that day to present day, I have done hundreds of backflips whether it be for competition, training or just having fun. Jumping isn’t the only thing I love about skiing though. Whether I’m skiing alone (which I tend to do a lot, especially on powder days) or with my friends and loved ones, every day skiing is an adventure. Bombing down the groomers as fast as I can, dodging trees though endless fresh snow or skiing the bumps on Outer Limits until my legs give out, with every day comes a new challenge. However, the actual feeling of being in the mountains is pretty indescribable. Which I think is my favorite part. What you feel and what you experience cannot be taken away from you. It’s all how you interpret it.
I have learned so much from skiing and I’ve had many different feelings about it over the years. I went from being a competitive mogul skier, which seemed like my world, to dropping that and starting from scratch. Years of a daily regimented training plan from the moment I woke up to the minute I went to bed, to no plan at all. It was confusing at first. I had to fall in love with skiing again in a whole new light and it didn’t take very long once I developed a new freedom in skiing.
For now, I am lucky enough to spend my winters in Killington to enjoy the sport I am passionate about. I love the town and the people here just as much as I love the mountain. Everyone here has a special connection to the mountain of their own and there’s a feeling of excitement to share a common love of a sport so incredible. As we know, living on the East Coast you have to learn to live with the fact some winters are just going to be downright awful. But when that year comes around with the best snow, you better believe you’ll freeze your butt off chasing powder all winter long. And that’s the year we had. More subzero days than not, but enough snow to last us to June.
All in all, I am grateful for all the years I spent training for they have given me the ability and fearlessness to ski any mountain I wish. I look forward to many more years in the mountains and countless powder days ahead. And for the current moment, I smile and take each day one day at a time.