Racing’s a funny thing; it changes everything. You can a ski run a thousand times, but the moment you decide to race, nothing’s the same. You get anxious before the start, the adrenalin starts flowing, your body tightens up, your mind starts focusing, the nerves show up, everything seems enhanced, and then boom, you shoot out of the gate or off the line and all that disappears and is replaced with the desire to go as fast as possible and win. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s a high that’s hard to replace.
Even as a ski coach, I still get nervous when one of my racers leaves the gate. I ask myself, “Did I do everything I could to prepare my racer for this moment?” The highs of winning are incredibly high and that’s why we do it, but the lows are comparably low, and in some cases the lows can be devastating. For Nick Zoricic, it was deadly.
I had the pleasuring of knowing Nick for a long time and I coached him for a year when he was trying to make it back onto the Canadian World Cup Alpine Ski Team in 2006. We spent the summer training in Chile and the winter chasing Europa Cup points around Europe. I can tell you, Nick was one of those guys that loved life, he loved to ski and even more so, he loved to compete.
When it seemed that his alpine ski racing career was over, Nick didn’t quit. He moved over to the ski cross side of things and had almost instant success. His tall lanky body was built for absorbing terrain and his lifetime of training to go fast on skis was a perfect fit.
Nick was on the podium a few times but was still searching for that ultimate high, winning on the World Cup circuit, and being the best. I can honestly say that Nick was working as hard as he could and risking everything because that was who he was. It’s pretty cliché to say that Nick died doing what he loved, but that’s exactly what he did. He was pulling out to pass and going for the win.
I’m very sad that he’s gone and that we’ll never get to share stories of the crazy times we had, I’m even sadder for his family that has to go on living without him. I know his father Bebe very well—he’s a ski coach himself, who’s been a rock through this whole ordeal. My heart goes out to Nick’s family, his friends, and all of his teammates past and present who’ve all lost a great son, a brother, a friend, a teammate and person. Nick, I know why you did what you did and took the risks that you took. You were a competitor, and the thrill of the race was the ultimate high. Some will never understand this but a lot of us do. RIP Zoro.