Abby McAlindon’s active ski life is worth the sacrifice


When junior Abby McAlindon was only in fifth grade, her life so far had consisted of two main driving forces: school and gymnastics. 

But with the introduction of a new sport, and the realization that her current one didn’t work with her schedule, Abby’s life was on the brink of a shift.

“[My family] started skiing every weekend,” Abby said. “I realized that with gymnastics, it was going to come to a choice: school or gymnastics. School became a second thought because gymnastics just takes over your life. I just realized, ‘I don’t think I want to do that anymore.’”

Luckily, her involvement with gymnastics was perfectly aligned with the beginning of her career as a skier. What would become the sport she’s now so heavily involved in started as a hobby for Abby’s older sister, and then just a simple pastime for the whole family. 

“Well, actually my sister went to Cannonsburg with one of her friends for the ski club for fun,” Abby said. “Then it just became something that we always did. We went [skiing on] a family trip, and that’s when we just got really into it; we loved it, and it became an every weekend thing, and now that’s what we do.”

Her decision worked out for the best, and Abby feels confident in the departure away from gymnastics. 

“Skiing was always super relaxing, and gymnastics was super stressful,” said Abby, who has been skiing since second grade. “I had to choose, and I don’t regret it at all.”

Her decision to pick up skiing as a hobby, though, eventually matured into a deeper love for the activity and the desire to pursue it more as a sport.

“After a while, my dad stopped being able to teach [my sister and me],” Abby said. “We had our basics down, so we did this thing called nastar, it’s like a fun race, but it wasn’t really actually racing, and we loved that. So as we kept improving, my dad was like, ‘would you guys want to actually do this as a sport?’ I loved it, so we said yes.”

In hopes of finding a good location to pursue this, Abby and her family found a team up north that would allow both her and her older sister to ski more competitively, rather than just for fun.

“We found our club team up north, Boyne Racing, so we started doing that [almost] every weekend,” Abby said. “Now, I race all the time, and I’m always gone.”

When she says “always gone,” Abby isn’t merely being hyperbolic. She described a typical weekend as her embarking on the three-hour drive to Boyne, Michigan on a Friday night, waking up at 7:30 Saturday to ski all day for her team—as well as skiing just for fun afterward—and repeating the process on Sunday, and then driving back home for three hours. 

She isn’t immune to the difficulties of the extensive time and travel requirements. For Abby, this lifestyle in the winter months does take a toll.

“You’re kind of run-down after the winter,” Abby said. “It is a lot of travel because there’s no snow and skiing down here, so I’m always up north. It’s really time-consuming.”

Additionally, Abby ski’s for the team here at school, as well as being one of four captains. 

“I love ski team here,” Abby said. “I think [being a captain] has probably taught me a lot of patience because I didn’t realize how crazy high school kids are, and that’s not a bad thing. Especially on races, we have to inspect the course [and] tell [the team] what to do. I think it’s interesting. It’s a different aspect of skiing you don’t really get when you’re up north.”

As if all the skiing wasn’t enough, Abby also travels outside of Michigan for the sport, going to places like Utah, Oregon, and Colorado to ski both competitively and for fun. 

“I love it out west; it’s beautiful,” said Abby, who spoke about already planning a trip to Vail where she has a race this season. “As you continue to get better at skiing, you’ll have these bigger races that are out west, so you’ll go there a lot.”

In the end, Abby considers all the pros of skiing to be far more valuable to her then the lost time and demand it requires. In fact, she doesn’t even consider herself to be making a sacrifice. 

“I think I’ve learned a lot of time management, and it’s also learning to do what you love,” Abby said. “It’s worth the sacrifice of not really being able to hang out with my friends in the winter. It’s choosing to do what you love, and if it’s worth it, it’s not even a sacrifice.”