It started with a spontaneous decision. Mike Sabin was teaching 3-year-old Connor how to ski at Dollar Mountain while 5-year-old Nick slid circles around them both. Nearby festivities caught Mike’s attention. He soon learned it was Dollar’s annual Kindercup downhill race and promptly signed both boys up. By the end of the day, all three had the ski racing bug.
Mike contacted BBSRA (now BBSEF) and enrolled Nick the following year. “I was that parent who brought his kid up with no poles on the first day,” said Mike with a laugh. “I scrambled to the rental center, and Nick had poles by lunch.”
Two years later Connor- and his poles - joined Mitey Mites. Mike soon had two traitors on his hands. “They got fast really quickly, and I had to work to keep up!”
Literally left in the cold, Mike volunteered to coach. “I’ll never forget my first time out with a bunch of 6-year-olds. One girl totally biffed it in the snow right as we were starting down the cat track. It was a tough beginning, but by the end of the season, she was all smiles and went on to be quite the racer.”
Mike continued coaching while his boys skied their way through the program. Nick raced Alpine through high school and into college working his way into the Steamboat Springs Holiday Classic. There he trained and raced with the top 40 racers in the NorAm field. Connor raced until he was 15 and then turned his attention to freeskiing. The first to go through the shoot at the Michael B. Young Big Mountain event, it wasn’t long before he was impressing the judges at Regionals.
Both scored well across their respective disciplines and have been sharing their enthusiasm for skiing with BBSEF athletes ever since. Connor serves double duty coaching freestyle and alpine home teams, while Nick coaches and travels with the Alpine Competitive Team.
16 years of ski competitions generates a ton of great memories. “I remember KTVB Channel 7 interviewing me at the McCall Winter Games finish when I was in the 3rdgrade,” said Nick. They should have interviewed him again his junior year after he careened through 3 layers of B-netting at the Bolinder Super G one day and then made the flip (top 30) in the GS the next.
Connor woke up one morning to a canceled event at Snowbird and was stoked to lay down first tracks in the bowl following 3’ of snow. “That turned into a sensational freeski day,” he said.
Then there was the time Connor had a qualifier in Park City. At the last minute, Mike invited Nick to join them for the trip. It was rare for all three to be at the same event. It turned into a really fun family weekend – capped off by Connor scoring his first front page finish.
“What I’ve enjoyed the most over the years,” said Mike, “is watching the boys race and train and have ski adventures together. And now they coach together. I enjoy watching them be brothers together on the mountain where they have been raised passing on their knowledge to young kids. It’s pretty neat to watch them do that, each in their own way.”
Mike had planned to coach one day each weekend this season. But when he learned that enrollment had reached capacity, he volunteered to coach both days. He knows firsthand that it could very well be the start of lifelong adventures for each Mitey Mite and his or her family.
Good luck to all the Mitey Mites at the first Coaches Cup of the season this weekend!
The competitive season is here, and it is loaded with excitement, enthusiasm, nerves, hope and anxiety, not to mention the potential for disappointment. Sport Psychologist Dr. Jim Taylor offers specific suggestions for supporting your child on race day:
Remind yourself why your kids ski race (and it has nothing to do with results).
Be happy and have fun at races. If you are, your children mostly likely will too.
If you can’t control your emotions at races, don’t go.
Before races, if you find that you are stressed, worried, or anxious, stay away from your kids.
Before races, don’t try to motivate or coach them; nothing you say will help, but a lot you say can hurt.
Before every race run, smile and say “I love you.”
Don’t look at Live-Timing, at least until you’ve talked to your young racer and heard firsthand how race day went. Better yet, uninstall it from your phone!
After every race run, smile and say “I love you. Do you want a snack?”
After races, if you find yourself frustrated, angry, or otherwise upset, stay away from your kid till you’ve calmed down.
Here’s the toughest one: NEVER, EVER talk about results!! I know this sounds impossible, but it can be done (though it takes tremendous willpower). If your children bring up results, just say, “Results don’t matter now. What matters is that you gave your best effort and had fun.”
“…what matters is not the results, but rather that young racers have a passion for our sport, are willing to work hard and accept its inevitable highs and lows, and continue to develop physically, technically, and mentally in preparation for transition to [the next level].” (Taylor, 2018)
Jim Taylor, Ph.D., competed internationally while skiing for Burke Mountain Academy, Middlebury College, and the University of Colorado. Over the last 30 years, he has worked with the U.S. and Japanese Ski Teams, many World Cup and Olympic racers, and most of the leading junior race programs in the U.S. and Canada. He is the creator of the Prime Ski Racing series of online courses and the author of Train Your Mind for Athletic Success: Mental Preparation to Achieve Your Sports Goals.To learn more or to contact Jim, visit drjimtaylor.com