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Let’s Go Way Back

by jim moran

Way back would probably only be a year or two. What I want to talk about today is way, way, way back at the start of my ski career. Back when life for me could be summed up in two words—Mom and Dad. They are the start for everyone and there comes a time in all of our lives when we realize our potential for reaching a goal by yourself. Mine just happened to be in the world of mogul skiing competition.

I was 13 years old and dumb as a pair of skis, so my mom forced my first goal on me. My mom was the food and beverage manager at the ski resort in Stowe, Vermont. The good part was that I always had a season pass and a ride to the hill. My family did not have a lot of money and my mom had told me that the local race program was out of the question because of the expense. My mom was casual about it at first.

“Hey Jim, there is a mogul skiing competition in a month; that would be fun. Do you want me to sign you up?”

“I will get crushed Mom. They would put me in the 18 and under category. I have never even been in that kind of skiing event—I would get killed.”

My mom did not push me, but asked again in a week.

“No,” I said. Another week went by and she asked again. “No,” I said again. I was not going to change my mind.

My mom is a smart lady and she knew that I was way ahead of my age. She always followed where I was, and what I was doing; she just did it in the silent way. She new that I always skied with Justin Patnode who was six years older than me, Kim Brown, around 25 years older, Dan Susland 15 years older, Pat Bergen 25 years older, and about five more of equal age. We were the rowdy skiers, and most looked at us as the best skiers on the mountain. Dan was a former Canadian National Team member and the rest were the best skiers in the local race program.

Finally she took my choice away and told me that she had entered me. The first prize was a brand new pair of skis. So if I wanted them, I had to do better than the rest. She knew that this would give me some motivation because I always asked for new skies, but got the second hand ones. I didn’t think I could win, but I would give it my best shot because new skis are fast and a necessity on the East Coast.

At the time, I didn’t know that all of my ski buddies were that good, or that they silently made me better every time we skied together. I just thought that the tips were helpful suggestions. They didn’t constantly give them to me, but I always listened when they did.

The day came for the competition. I had wanted new skis for years. I would try my best for those things no matter who I skied against. It was a dual competition, meaning that you are put head to head with somebody else and the winner moves on. I was pumped and ready until I saw the guy I was skiing against. He was like six feet tall and huge; but I wanted those skis. In fact I wanted those skis so bad I forgot to be scared.

We were off and skiing and I saw him fall right away. I didn’t stop because the same might happen to me. I skied fast and jumped two or three times, throwing like a daffy or spread or something. Keep in mind, this was back in the day when air was sporadic; they did not build all of these perfect ramps. Freestyle skiing was as free as the wind: if you wanted to air then you had to find some air. I got to the bottom, destroying this guy who was probably scared out of his mind or a beginner.

I went back to the top to win those skis. This action went continued about two or three more times, then I got a real challenge. I competed with a guy I would know for years to come. He was a ripper from Sugarbush—Stowe’s rival mountain. I was getting closer to those skis, so my motivation was still high.

I didn’t know that this guy was so good, but when we started, he didn’t fall and was not ahead or behind me. This was my most challenging dual, and he probably remembers it well too. We crossed the finish and stopped to see who won. There was that weird moment (that I always hated) and it made us both feel odd.

“Jim Moran is the winner,” the announcer said. I was psyched, shook his hand and went back up to the top.

I had made it all the way to the finals, so the winner of this dual would win the whole thing. My final dual was an interesting one because I don’t recall much of it. I was so close to those skis that they were all I could see. I had visions of me turning on those boards, feeling good. The guy I was up against was big and I was ready. They sent us both and I was not messing around. I skied fast with good air and I was at the bottom in no time. I looked back up and he was almost to the bottom.

Everyone started congratulating me before the announcer even said who won. I guess the guy had fallen somewhere and my friends felt I won. The announcer came on, “Jim Moran is the winner of the 18 and under category. Congratulations.”

It’s fun to look into the past, but you should always take something away from it. I realize that the reason I won was because of young talent and desire, but the reason I competed was because my mom made me. She knew something about me that I didn’t.

Thanks Mom.