Trust takes you further | Erin Mielzynski
“Luck is when preparation meets opportunity” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca
After three Olympics, a ground-breaking World Cup victory, and countless other achievements, you’d think Erin Mielzynski might want to slow down and savor the taste of success. Instead, she’s building on her experiences, both the victories and the setbacks, to find her further on the mountain. Erin relies on meticulous goal setting, a team of trusted people, and her high-performing gear to get her to the next highest peaks.
I need to know that I did everything I could to put myself in a position to succeed, to give myself the greatest chance of luck.
The first Canadian woman in 41 years to win a World Cup slalom
41 years is a long time. Especially in a country like Canada, where success in winter sports is almost hard-wired in their DNA. So, when Erin broke the 41-year barrier and won this World Cup victory, it was a monumental accomplishment: a victory for Canada. But, it was also a moment in Erin’s career that gave her more drive to succeed again in the future:
“In Ofterschwang in 2012, I was the first Canadian woman in 41 years to win a World Cup slalom race. I remember on that day I was so nervous before the race that I could hardly look at myself in the mirror, yet in the start gate instead of seeing what I couldn’t do, I believed I could. As I stood on the podium living my dream and hearing our Canadian anthem, I was overcome with an amazing feeling of a dream realized, a lifetime of hard work seen and knowing that that day my best was good enough. However, what I didn’t expect is that the thing that meant the most to me is staring at the crowd from the top of the podium and watching my teammates shedding tears of happiness. To me, that is my greatest memory from that day. I felt immense pride and support. My heart was lifting out of my chest, as I was filled with disbelief, courage, trust that I could do it again and drive to work even harder in the future.”
“The idea of “going further” means pushing my limits. It means training harder and smarter than my competitors. As well as, feeling fear and doing it anyways. “Going further” means staring my weaknesses in the face and working on making them my strength. The reason that I push ‘further’ is that I never want to leave a stone unturned, I never want to look back and regret a chance that I didn’t take or a weakness that I didn’t address. I need to know that I did everything I could to put myself in a position to succeed, to give myself the greatest chance of luck. The harder I work, the more I push my limits, the more I ensure that fear does not limit progress- the harder I can push myself, my skiing and the more inspirational I can be.”
For Erin, the feeling of going further is addicting, it’s bone-chilling, life-changing, character-building stuff. Finding your further becomes necessary beyond just sport, it becomes a way of life.
Erin says, “it’s the feeling of my heart beating out of my chest, an elation that follows me and a clarity that enters my thoughts. It is a feeling like no other. A feeling that many of us strive for, and a feeling that keeps us going through the good and tough times.”
In order to reach these heights, Erin relies on a meticulous goal-setting regimen. Erin is an experienced athlete; she knows that nobody stumbles onto success by accident. She sets goals and works hard to achieve them. Erin sets goals that are related to results in skiing, daily training, and life outside skiing. Her Further goes beyond the world of sport. Take a look at Erin’s goals for 2020/2021:
- Rank top 7 in the world
- Step onto the podium. Win a medal at the next Olympics
- “To be one of the best slalom skiers in the world”. This is my true objective and goal for the next few years, which means that I want to be a consistent podium contender
- Push the limits of women’s ski racing
- Be my best, put two of my best runs together on race days- and then do this consistently
Beyond Ski Racing
- Ski bigger lines while backcountry skiing. Gain experience. Educate. Learn. Really get to find freedom on the mountain
- Ride bigger and more powerful waves surfing
- Graduate with a bio-med degree. Become a veterinarian and own my own practice
According to Erin, “it is important to push myself to go further, to set goals and strive for them because this is what makes me a better person. I say person and not skier or racer because life is bigger than what I am doing. My failures teach me how to rise again, my goals give me the courage to address my weaknesses, my successes give me the evidence I need for confidence, and my experiences make me more compassionate, more understanding, and a better communicator. I wouldn’t have been able to learn these lessons so aggressively without my goals or without pushing myself further. When I succeed, it is often on a world stage, but we often fail extraordinarily hard.”
There are always obstacles to overcome and I have pushed through, jumped over and nearly drowned in some of them, however, through each, I learned and evolved... even after a few tears.
After the goals are set, Erin pushes forward. Yet even with a clear vision, the process comes with setbacks. As Erin puts it, “there are always obstacles to overcome and I have pushed through, jumped over and nearly drowned in some of them, however, through each, I learned and evolved… even after a few tears.”
Her latest obstacles include:
- Fear of failure- my own expectations- not letting this be the thief of my belief
- Feeling like I’m letting the people in my circle of trust down
- Being kind to myself
- Finding my personal race pace. How hard do I charge, do I let things flow, do I trust my instinct?
However big these obstacles may seem, Erin is no stranger to challenge. After years of suffering from back pain, she received a diagnosis that allowed her to address the pain directly, not through fear:
“The biggest challenge that I faced in the past was back pain. I’ve had back pain on and off since I was 13, but it became really painful in 2014 leading into the Olympics. I could only ski 4 runs a day, every other day. We weren’t able to diagnose the pain and I was terrified of crashing because I didn’t know if something was seriously wrong. I lost belief in myself, my body, my health and my ability to push. I got an MRI at the Olympic Games, saw a spine surgeon and finally after over 10 years my pain was diagnosed as a spondylolisthesis. With the diagnosis, came relief, rehab, training and leaning on our medical staff. Finally, my back pain is under control, I can push again and I know that my body isn’t my limiting factor.”
After that time, Erin is able to directly address her body’s limitations without the uncertainty and fear that comes without a clear diagnosis. She can attack her challenges head on.
As Erin finds her further by setting goals and overcoming obstacles, she trusts her own abilities. Past successes remind her of what she’s capable of. They also remind her of the feeling that comes with success, and her drive to achieve only grows. In her own words, Erin recalls one of her recent accomplishments: filming for Warren Miller:
Backcountry Skiing for Warren Miller Films
When I was asked to film for Warren Miller, in the backcountry, I was stunned into silence and immobilized by fear, but my heart started pounding and my skin started tingling as I knew that I was going to say yes. I never in a million years thought that I would be asked to do that and actually be able to do it. Some of those things were so natural for the other guys, but for me they were new and scary. But again, the best feeling was the immense pride after I accomplished the line or couloir, and the fist pump that was always waiting for me at the bottom.
The External Factors: Trust in Your Gear and Your Team
Beyond her own skills and experiences, Erin must rely on both her gear and the people around her to help her find her further: “when you are standing at the side of a mountain or in the start gate of the Olympic Games, there is no room for questioning my equipment…at times my gear is my lifeline and the difference between an amazing achievement and a devastating disaster, so I have to choose wisely and place full trust in this choice.”
We feel proud and humbled that Erin has placed some of that trust in our hands. In turn, we’re constantly working on creating the professional-grade gear that will help enable her future success.
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