She may be tiny but she is tough. Sarah Schleper de Gaxiola is best known for her lioness roar when she storms out of the start gate.
The good news for the coming season is that the lioness is back. Aged 35, Schleper de Gaxiola is returning to ski racing. And it’s no usual comeback. Since retiring in December 2011, she’s given birth to daughter Resi who joined brother Lasse in May 2013. And changed nationality to Mexico, her husband’s native country. Her goal is to race on home snow at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2015 in Vail-Beaver Creek.
Comeback at 35, as a mom of two – why?
It’s about a battle with myself, and a dream to break the barrier on a stereotype that older women and mothers can’t ski fast. I was raised in a family where character rules; originality has always been one of my dad’s mottos. I learned to push boundaries and challenge the way things are.
For me this was a unique option; team Mexico fits my lifestyle at this point. Let’s face it; ski racers my age don’t really exist. I have that to contend with. But that’s what I like. I like that I can contend with that, age.
Why come back sporting the Mexican colors?
Everyone is probably wondering this same thing. It was never a sudden decision. It evolved from my love for skiing, my love for the Mexican culture, and my love for Federico and our family. It hasn’t been easy receiving citizenship; we had to go through a lot of steps to get here.
The pressure I felt from qualifying and proving myself in a grande organization is lessened. With Team Mexico, I will start out with a World Cup spot, and a World Championship spot. Those spots are mine until the team grows, and someone pushes me out. And that’s another goal of mine: to make a Mexican team that can compete on the world stage. We have a lot of Mexicans living in Vail and I think it would be pretty cool to start a training base for the Mexican team in my hometown.
Life on the tour is not easy. How will you do it with two kids?
Most days I don’t even have time to shower. This is me. It’s a juggling act now.
I am a woman and I have a gypsy gene - this is how I live. The key is having a very supportive family with both with my parents and Federico’s family willing to watch the kids at anytime and having our home base.
How do you master that daily challenge?
I am a human; I struggle with the same things that we all face. As in skiing I take to the challenge of learning and trying my best everyday, if it’s in a family scenario or a competition. I learned from Thich Nhat Hahn: When conditions are sufficient I exist. This is what the Buddha taught. When conditions are sufficient I manifest. Skiing fast, skiing in powder, making clean turns, making deep turns: that is euphoria.
What will be different about Sarah Schleper who returns to racing in 2014?
Many things. To begin with: My teammates. I am on a team with one of ski racing’s most vibrant characters. Hubertus Von Hohenlohe. An amazing spirit, he is a gentleman and always progressing, in art, in style or in counting Olympic/World Championship appearances. I look up to Hubertus and aim to learn as much as I can from him.
My uniform. I will continue the tradition of classic Mexican racing suits. Hubertus will be in charge of the design and I love his flair. I can’t wait to see the Mexican uniform for this season.
My coach. My brother Hunter will be my coach, Hunter was plagued with injuries in his racing career, but he has a touch for snow that I hope he can translate into my ski racing.
My traveling partners. My husband Federico and son Lasse will have to stay back in Vail for most of the World Cup races so I am bringing the new baby and my mother-in-law Alejandra to watch her. She will be with Resi in the finish of all races this year.
Lastly my peers, I raced a long career and I saw many racers come and go, but I am sad my best friend on the circuit Denise Karbon retired last season. I am looking forward to visiting her at Casa Karbon in South Tyrol.
To follow Sarah’s comeback journey, visit vivasarah.com
Source: Organizing Committee of Vail-Beaver Creek 2015
Scheduled from February 2-15, the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2015 in Vail and Beaver Creek are expected to showcase athletes from over 70 nations, with an estimated 750 million worldwide television viewers and an onsite media and broadcast entourage of approximately 1,500 members.