It wasn't because my body was ready to stop racing when I retired three years ago. My body was tired. My surgically repaired knees couldn’t handle the pressure of pushing myself down the mountain at 80 mph. It was so depressing that I couldn't even watch skiing for a year after my retirement.
It was hard to accept the idea of retirement. It was obvious that I knew it would happen. Every athlete has an end point. It's hard to let go of someone who is in a "grind" mentality. So I set myself up so that I could continue to work even after I had retired from skiing.
After retiring, I took a week off and then started booking events and going back to work. I was busier than ever. The transition wasn't easy just because I had work. It was difficult. It was hard.
Skiing was my escape from all kinds of trials. It was my escape, a kind of meditation, and my happy place.
It was also why it was so difficult to find a way to mentally deal with the fact that skiing was not available when I retired. I needed a new way to think about things. I was unable to ski anymore. I didn't have the "next race" or "next year" to make my comeback. I had to set new goals with different tangibles and different timelines. It took me some time to find my place.
I find it very rewarding to be able to offer support and feedback to those who are going through any kind of recovery -- both physically and mentally. I have also found a way of connecting with skiers and skiing on a different level.
Sofia Goggia is an Italian downhill champion who is currently the Olympic champion. Sofia, like me, has overcome a lot of injuries throughout her career. When she is healthy, it's impossible to beat her. She has been through many things in her life and I have helped her through some of them over the past couple of years. She is a tough competitor, and I believe we share a lot in our approach to things.
I encourage skiers of all ages to seek out help whenever they need it.
These were some of the things I learned on my own. I kept everything inside me. As a teenager, mental illness was not a common topic. There was certainly a stigma attached to it. It was like "Suck it up, bear it." Today there are many resources and people who will help. Reach out. I wish I could have. You don't have to feel isolated in your struggles.
My biggest challenge these days is multitasking and managing all my post-racing obligations. I am a limited partner as well as a general partner in two venture capital funds. A few companies have me as an advisor. I represent Under Armour and Rolex as well as Land Rover. My own ski wear is in the works.
There's a lot of pressure I face, but it's less from the outside. It's more from me. It's exactly the same as when I raced: The most pressure that was placed on me was actually from within.
I am not the only one who knows this.