Weekend Road Warriors

| December 2, 2010 | 0 Comments
Brita Sigourney

Much of 20-year-old Brita Sigourney's success is attributable to the dedication of her parents.

Five hours in the car, fast food for dinner. Road markers race by your window and eventually you stop for gas. In this weather, you could be stuck on Interstate 80 for hours, waiting for crews to untangle a seven-car pileup or for a road full of truckers to don their chains for another routine trip over Donner Summit. You may just spend that time fighting the San Francisco Bay Area rush, which you know you’ll struggle with on the way home again Sunday.

You do this nearly every winter weekend because your children love to ski, and you love your children.

“People will do anything for their kids,” says Jerry Crawford, veteran freestyle coach at Heavenly Mountain Resort. Over the years, Crawford has observed the commitment of these out-of-area parents who shuttle their children long distances to train and compete on Tahoe ski teams. Many go the extra mile to help their children succeed, traveling the country with the team, lending a hand at special events and sometimes even buying property in Tahoe, all to fuel their kids’ passion.

Elite athletes and former ski racers Dick and Barbara Peterson of Berkeley, California, always enjoyed their ski weekends at Squaw, before and after children. Their daughters Hilary and Foreste each started with Mighty Mites at age four, were racing by age nine and traveling the region competing nearly every weekend through middle and high school. Through it all, their parents remained supportive.

“Our girls’ passion matched our passion, and our passion supported their passion,” says Barbara. “We never questioned the distance or the time and energy required to go back and forth. It was our lifestyle—the driving on Friday night allowed everyone to rest after a busy week. On Sunday night upon return, the same thing—not every parent’s going to spend the money, exert the energy, provide the dedication.”

Hilary is now a senior at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and captain of the women’s ski team. Foreste, now 17, is the newest and youngest member of the U.S. Ski Team. A junior at Berkeley High School, she takes AP classes, travels the globe and races with the best athletes in the world.

Julie Sigourney of Carmel, California, recalls her weekends skiing in Tahoe with her four children, three of whom joined the Alpine Meadows freestyle team at a young age. Brita, the youngest, has been skiing since she was two.

“We were at a sledding hill and her friend who was three had his own little skis and boots,” says Julie. “Just for fun, I put them on Brita and let her go at the top of the hill. She had perfect balance. I thought, ‘Whoa, she’s ready to go.’”

The Sigourneys bought a condo at their home mountain, Alpine Meadows, 15 years ago. “It was just the most fun thing we could do as a family,” says Julie.

As her children grew older, the scheduling became increasingly complicated. “The way it worked for us was to decide one weekend at a time,” she says, noting that eventually the family averaged three out of four weekends a month in Tahoe. “Somehow we lucked out on weather, we never got stuck on I-80 and their schools were accommodating because they were all good students and kept up on their work.” When applying to private high schools, the family was always honest about how much time skiing and traveling would take.

“I’m so thankful that they were willing to drive me up there every weekend even after my brothers left, even though they might not have always wanted to go,” says Brita, now 20. “Now one of my mom’s main concerns is me getting hurt. I just tell her it’s her fault I love skiing so much.”

Brita won the Junior World Championships in halfpipe this past summer in New Zealand and will compete in the Winter X Games held in Aspen in January. A junior studying graphic design at UC Davis, she hopes to someday design the graphics on skis, and is ecstatic to live so much closer to Tahoe now.

“We knew it could be done,” Julie says, citing gold medal Olympian Jonny Moseley, a kindred out-of-area commuter. “But we never had aspirations of the kids meeting any high level. We just went because we were having fun. We had no future tied up in it—it’s just where we ended up, one weekend at a time.” By Jen Schmidt. TQ

Category: Outdoors, People, Winter

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