What does it take to become an Olympic skier?

What does it take to become an Olympic skier?

So your kids have been watching the Olympics, and now they have dreams of standing on the podium. The KATU Problem Solvers spent time on the slopes with some local would-be Olympians and discovered that gold medal dreams come with an Olympic-sized commitment from kids and parents, alike.

The lesson in the physics class at Summit High School in Bend on this particular day is acceleration. It's a subject that 16-year-old Elle Truax knows a little something about.

Truax is a junior at Hood River Valley High School in Hood River. But during the alpine racing season, she lives and goes to school in Bend, so she can train on Mt. Bachelor or in the gym every day.

"There's a lot of hours (of training)," says Truax.

Her friend and fellow racer, Ashley Lodmell, agrees. Instead of attending Evergreen High School in Vancouver, Lodmell, 15, spends the winter months studying online. The girls' parents trade off staying with them in a rented home in Bend.

"Having my parents by my side through everything is just so important," says Truax. "There's no way I'd be able to do this without them, honestly."

Both the girls' fathers skied for competitive teams in college and have encouraged them in the sport.

Their parents also provide significant financial support, according to John Schiemer, executive director of the Mt. Bachelor Sports Education Foundation (MBSEF), where the girls train. Between coaching, travel, and gear, alpine racing can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 a year; nordic skiing runs about $5,000 to $10,000 a year.

Even with that level of dedication, Olympic glory is rare.

"The kids that make the Olympic team or the World Cup, that is the icing on the cake," explains Schiemer. "Great to have, great for our program, but we have 500 athletes in our program. Some will make it, but a lot of others will go on to great schools and great careers and hopefully being involved in the ski industry."

Of the 500 skiers involved in MBSEF, about 30 of them train full-time like Truax and Lodmell. The girls, too, know their Olympic dreams are not a sure thing. But they're willing to sacrifice school dances and basketball games for a shot.

"It's different than a normal teenage life, for sure," explains Truax. "Honestly, I wouldn't trade it for the world."

"Even if you don't make it that far, you still learn so much from skiing," said Lodmell.

The life lessons? Focus, discipline and a healthy dose of humility.

"I think being along for the ride, that's really what it's about," says Truax. "Just enjoying it and having a good time and seeing how far you can make it."