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Turning Pro,
Yes or No?

by jim moran

I was 19 years old and fresh to the Colorado ski scene. My thought was that I had been at this for long enough, but the cash flow still wasn’t there. Lots of my friends were sick of USSA amateur skiing and were going to turn professional. I was torn with a decision. I could not figure out if I wanted to go pro and be able to pay my rent, or stay broke and do this amateur thing to see if I could get to the Olympics. I had always dreamed of representing the US, and killing myself if I had to for the victory. I thought that being the best in the world meant going in that direction.

My best friend Justin Patnode was my roommate. He had gotten named to the White Stag Pro Mogul Team. He was really pushing me to get involved.

“Jim you can make some serious cash, and have a blast doing it,” Justin said.

I knew that I was young and this would test me well, so I did it. I called a lady at White Stag and told her that I wanted in. She had already heard about me from Justin; she told me I was in.

I was a professional, so to hell with those amateur guys. I was going to make some cash. I made the trip down to Denver and got all my gear. I had big patches all over me that made me look like a cool racecar driver.

The first competition was not until January so I had a bit of time to prepare. I spent a lot of my time saving cash as a bus person and no time working out. Time ticked away and I got an invitation to go to some big amateur event in Snowbird, Utah. I was still an amateur. They said that this was a big event and only the best could go.

I figured it would be good training and I had never been to Snowbird. I had always heard great things about their powder, so I dropped a few bucks and made the trip. The snow was great, the course was soft, and I was having a great time. I did not win, but I got 4th and 6th in the two-day event.

It was a good warm up I thought. Then a US team guy came up to me and said “Hey dude, I guess I will see you at Nationals.”

“What!” I replied.

“This was a big event dude! Those two events are the biggest of the year. You did well enough to guarantee yourself a spot, assuming that you do well at your Regional. You know, like a top 20 or something,” he said.

I was faced with a weird thing. You know those critical points in your life when you have to choose one of two paths. You may not realize the significance until later, but you get that weird feeling of uncertainty. I was having one of those kinds of experiences.

Once you turned pro there was no turning back. I was faced with that choice. On one hand, I had uncertainty but a good chance; on the other hand I had certainty but no hope of my Olympic dreams coming true. I was torn in my choice, so I figured I would give it some time.

My life was simple, but for some reason the problem seemed to get worse. The time didn’t help, so I took a good look at myself. What is it that I want out of my life? Do I want money and glory or do I want to step up to my dreams and take a real shot at making them come true? If I go one way I can never turn back, and if I go the other way, all I lose is time and possible profits. If I fail at my dream, I can still turn around and take my other potential. I called the lady at white Stag and called it quits. I figured I was young and if I failed at this, then I could then turn professional.

Well, from that point on, I began skiing like I never had before, and my dream finally came true. I climbed up and skied for the US in the Olympics.

I could have taken another route that day, and who knows where it would have led. Just remember to look both ways when you come to those paths in the road. If the decision can’t be made, following your heart does not hurt!