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Adversity is my Superpower, it's fueled my passion and led me to my community.

Today is my mom's birthday, it would have been her 75th...and I miss her. And in honor of her I'm going to share the talk I gave recently at the Vilar center to 200 ski and snowboard instructors.

Adversity is my Superpower.

Life throws us challenges and hardship, and these very things are the chisels that reveal our true masterpiece. Let's call this adverse-ability.

Many of you know me as Stacey, the manager of training or the PSIA examiner. I'm here tonight to share with you my story, how I came to be training manager, PSIA examiner, USSA educator and author.

Like many of you, I came to Colorado after college to "find myself", to figure out my future, my career and I landed a job teaching skiing here at Beaver Creek.

I grew up in a small Vermont town, Woodstock, where skiing was a "way of life" in the winter. And my mom was a ski instructor. I lived 3 miles from the site of the first ski tow in America! My home town ski area, Suicide Six, is host to the longest running ski race in North America, the Fisk Trophy Race, and the location of the first National Snow Surfing Championships. Skiing was in my blood!

I had no idea what my future held after college. What I was going to do, what my career would be, and I was in awe of friends who seemed to have figured it out so quickly after graduation. From Skidmore College I went back to Vermont and worked in the Marketing department for Killington. I had just earned my business degree in marketing and management so this seemed like a logical decision. And it was great! I was like Julie McCoy on the TV show the Love Boat. I was the event coordinator for our specialty ski weeks. I had found a job I could feel good about.

Not quite a year after becoming the "Julie McCoy" of Killington, I was introduced to Adversity.

To understand this adversity I'm going to share with you some of the back story.

I was my mom's only child. I didn't know my birth father. In first grade, my dad adopted me when he married my mom and not only did I gain a dad, I gained two brothers and a sister. I went from being the only kid in kindergarten who didn't have a dad to being part of a big, amazing family. I had an idyllic childhood all the way through college. My college boyfriend and I had plans, he was graduating a year behind me and we were going to move out to Jackson Hole to start our lives together there. My Killington job was my interim gig before our move.

Not quite a year into my job at Killington my idyllic life fell apart. Two months before our move to Jackson Hole my college boyfriend died in a car accident. Then a few weeks later my parents separated and got divorced. I was crushed, I was frozen in grief and disbelief. I was 21 years old and felt like my life had gone from beginning to ending in a matter of moments.

I was not only feeling solo, I was lost, and adversity had thrown me teetering off a ledge of uncertainty.

It's taken me a long time to acknowledge adversity as a companion in my life, I now believe it has helped me to become better in every aspect. Adversity is my superpower!

This is how I happened to land in Colorado in the Fall of best friend and I drove west, our mission to get far away from divorce and death. This was before cell phones or portable computers. I'd never driven further west than Rochester, NY. But I'd read Outside magazine and I knew Colorado had big mountains and lots of snow. We arrived in the Vail Valley the week before Thanksgiving, slept on a friend's floor and in a few days I had a job teaching skiing at Beaver Creek. Beaver Creek was small then, less than 100 instructors. And it was a long distance call from Avon to Edwards.

In my first day of training at Beaver Creek, leaving behind miles of crying, I realized that it was skiing and being in the mountains that would ground me in my passion for life again.

For a number of years I kept telling my family, I'm just going to do one more winter of teaching at Beaver Creek, just one more. I didn't have a plan, and I was happy.

Fast forward several more years, and my mom told me "sit down Stacey, I have to tell you something I should have told you a long time ago." My internal adversity alarm sounded.

She told me I have two half-brothers. My birth father had been married before he knew my mom. She was telling me this because an article had been published in the New Yorker magazine about one of my half-brothers, he's an author. The article was about one of his books being produced as a movie. His book was a true story of his life, and my mom and I were mentioned in the article. This was in 2004, the same year I self-published a book about my grandmother's life as an artist. I went to a bookstore to buy his book, and our two books happened to be on the same shelf! Serendipity! And confirmation, writing was in my blood.

Prior to this time, I had dabbled in writing, and worked on the PSIA teaching handbooks. It was in that moment in the bookstore that I believed I could call myself a writer, and that writing about my passion for skiing and teaching skiing, would be a good idea. I felt aligned with someone I hadn't yet met, I felt inspired to find out what more I was capable of, and I was propelled forward. I took that propulsion into my skiing career.

One my drive home from the bookstore it hit me, passion isn't something you have, it is something you are. Skiing and teaching skiing had led me to a new big amazing family, and community. Beaver Creek Ski & Snowboard School, PSIA/AASI and US Snowsports Education.

Adversity presents us with the opportunity to either deny, cope or thrive. When you choose to thrive and you believe in following your own ideal you will find yourself aligned with people who strive for a similar sense of community. I think skiing chose me and I chose to accept skiing as my career.

When we experience complacency or a loss of passion for our work, maybe it's a subconscious choice to avoid adversity. Fear of adversity is paralyzing and will prevent passion from blossoming within you. One of the many lessons experiencing adversity has taught me, is with courage fear has no voice.

I've actually become less tolerant of complacency for myself and more comfortable with adversity. It's this mindset that has driven me to become a supervisor and then a manager, to become an examiner with PSIA, to become an educator with USSA, to tryout multiple times for the PSIA National Team, and to author and contribute to so many of our industry materials and manuals.

I was asked recently by an instructor, "how do you write the next book? How do you get the ideas onto paper so they become a book?" I smiled. I'm currently working on the next edition of the PSIA/AASI Children's Technical manual, the first draft of the manuscript is due in May. How am I making it happen? Well, I step into discomfort, I procrastinate, and I prepare myself to receive feedback. I remind myself that Adversity is my superpower. And then, I just write.

It's been my mission in the Beaver Creek Ski and Snowboard school to create and lead a training program that will foster future educators and "challenge seekers" in our industry. It's a daunting task to know we strive to be the "World's best luxury family resort," to know that instructor performance is measured and that training is often viewed as the catalyst to propel us forward or to keep us where we are. It's exciting to know we have a large staff with varied levels of experience, and it takes courage to say "I believe we are and con continue to be the best."

I encourage any instructor who feels unsure, or who is looking for their next challenge to cast a wide net. To align yourself with people who have the qualities you want to emulate. To trust your passion, and to seek out your inspiration. Discover the USSA pathway, or the PSIA/AASI pathway in a second discipline, write an article for 32 degrees, and share your passion for teaching snow sports on a larger stage. Discover your superpower.

You never know who you will meet on the next lift ride or in the next lesson. Be open to the possibility of new connections. And know that with every lesson you teach you have the opportunity to help someone's passion for snow sports thrive. With every lesson your community grows. Teach with courage, challenge yourself to step into adversity to grow as a professional. You have what it takes within you to carve out your future, it's your story to write.

Through unfavorable life experiences I've carved out my passion, and found my community in the ski industry.

Michelangelo once said, "I saw an angel in the marble and carved until I set her free."

Adversity is my superpower!

Thank you.

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