Ski Racing with Diabetes

Posted by kayley on Wed, 03/12/2014 - 19:30 in
Photo Credit: Beignyreih Pearson.

When most kids around my age are asked what winter sports they play, many say basketball. But I have a different answer; I’m a ski racer!

I started skiing at the age of three with my dad being the main coach in my life. As I progressed, I started going to a weekend program at my local mountain to learn more basics of skiing. When my parents felt I was ready, they got me involved in the race program at our mountain around the age of seven. Skiing became a bigger part of my life than it ever was in the past. It became what my life was focused around in the winter. I’d have practices every Saturday and Sunday from 8:00 AM – 2:00 PM, and when I wasn’t training, it was a race day. Everyone gets so excited about race day, because it’s like game day for any other sport. As I got older and further progressed into racing, it just really grew to be more and more part of what I live for.

Getting Diagnosed with Diabetes During Ski Season

As the 2010-2011 ski season was coming to a close, I never would’ve thought that in just over two months my whole life would make a 180 with me getting diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. As the next season approached I had no idea what my teammates would think of the fairly new-to-me disease. I was still at the point where I didn't want anyone to know about it, because I was embarrassed that kids might think of me as different for having diabetes. But as I have learned, if anything, diabetes makes you more of an amazing athlete. Not only do you succeed at the sport, but you do it while controlling your diabetes at the same time.

Becoming More Comfortable with Diabetes

As time went on and I became more comfortable with sharing my diabetes with other people, it really became an amazing experience. If I just pulled out my blood glucose meter on the slopes and pricked my finger, all my friends would ask if I needed a snack or if I was ok because they knew what to do. Skiing also became a lot easier after I realized that people didn't judge me for having diabetes and most definitely didn't look at me differently. I think I became a better athlete because of it. Not only was I succeeding as a skier, but also as a teen with diabetes.

Managing My Blood Sugar While Skiing

Now during ski season, I keep a very close eye on my blood sugar numbers throughout a day spent outside skiing, especially since the cold weather has a tendency to make my sugars drop faster than just exercise alone. When I ski I ALWAYS keep some type of fast-acting sugar in my pocket, because you never know when or where a low blood sugar could happen.

Another way ski racing affects my blood sugar is from adrenalin. A lot of times when I’m in the start gate there it so much built up tension and excitement that my blood sugar skyrockets. And most times when I get to the bottom of a race course I’m shaking and breathing heavier than if I had just run a mile, so sometimes I have misinterpreted these signs for a low when really it’s the complete opposite.

Skiing has and will always be a huge part of my life and, with or without diabetes, will always be my favorite sport. This is mostly because how often do you meet a 16-year-old girl that says “I’m a ski racer” when you ask what winter sport she plays.

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