GoHawkeye grantee Hailey Griffin’s ski update

GoHawkeye grantee Hailey Griffin’s ski update

July 1, 2023 Off By Hawkeye Johnson

By Hailey Griffin

The past few years have been a whirlwind of adventure, misadventure, heartache, and unadulterated fun. Having received a DynAccess Hydra Lite of my own, thanks to the generosity of The GoHawkeye Foundation and its donors, I set out on a mission to follow, what may seem to some, a crazy dream.

Alpine racing in the 2026 Paralympics? Yes, definitely that! But, more specifically, to become a well-rounded skier. I want to do it all. Big Mountain? Yes, please! Back flips? I’m down to work up to one. Moguls? HELL yes. The Meadows with my son? My favorite!

Boy and his Mama. Meadows Trail, Telluride Ski Resort. Photo by Rob Griffin.

I was lucky enough to live in Telluride, Colorado with Paul Savage and his wonderful lady, Tracy Walker, for the 2021-22 winter season. There, Hawkeye himself taught me how to ski the moguls. He is an incredible instructor and I feel grateful for the time that we had together every day that I’m out on the hill – and that’s a lot of days. I will never forget our first time down Mak’M, Hawkeye! Thank you for believing in me and for teaching me so many skills that I am able to add to my tool box. I was also fortunate enough to find a partner in the effervescent David Sussman, who ever so gently guided me through some of the gnarliest runs on the gnarliest hills. He let me progress at my own rate and, man, did we have fun! Thank you ALL for the most unforgettable season of my life, thus far.

Conquering Log Pile. 2021-22 season, Telluride Ski Resort. Photo by David Sussman.

The 2022-23 season found me in Park City, Utah, training with the National Ability Center’s High Performance Alpine Team; I began ski racing. It was like trying to drink water from a fire hose. 

Racing isn’t easy. You have to have patience, with yourself and the mountain. Plus, it can really hurt sometimes. But! If you’re able to push through and appreciate it for what it really is — a lesson in life —  then I’m fairly certain that you’ll find the pain and suffering to be well worth it, as I have. And I went home with one 2nd place podium and one 3rd place podium in Super-G at Nationals!

Podium! 2023 Kimberley Canadian & USA National Championships. Photo by Danelle Umstead.

I was also asked to be a part of a feature-length ski film Advice for Girls, made up of an entirely female cast and crew, all of whom are pushing for equality for women in the outdoor industry. I’m filled to the brim with excitement to be a part of it. Women are so rad!

As for next year, I will continue racing but who knows what the 2023-24 season has in store for me.

What I do know for sure, though, is that through racing, and skiing in general, I’ve learned how to embrace the suck and how to push through fear – because there ain’t no other way down. I’ve learned to trust other humans to have my back when the stakes are extremely high. I’ve learned to have patience with myself. And, I’ve learned to check my ego every once in a while, because what could be worse than earning recognition by achieving one’s goals only then to have a stick up one’s ass? No, thanks. I’m here to learn and to share in the stoke for life.

Super G. 2023 Kimberley Canadian and USA National Championships. Photo by Steve Hilts.

So, I haven’t only used my Hydra to accelerate my career, I’ve also used it to learn about myself and the world around me; I’ve used it to live life conscientiously, with vigor, in defiance of the status quo. And what could be better than that?

Thank you endlessly, really.