Flying down a mogul course, flipping and twisting over jumps while thousands of spectators are watching your every move is not easy, and the world of freestyle skiing has never been as competitive as it is today.
If you can rise to the top in that sport, as Pemberton's Kristi Richards has done, then you have to believe that you can do anything.
Even start a business.
On April 30, Richards and Alan Bjorndal - her best friend growing up in Summerland since she was 12 - are opening a new artisan store on Frontier Street called One Earth Collection. The store will showcase the work of artists throughout Sea to Sky, as well as feature artists that will occupy a prominent space in the shop for two-months at a time.
"I'm settling and planting seeds in Pemberton, and opening a new artisan gift store that will focus on local artists from Sea to Sky," she said. "We'll bring in whatever they're doing, from pottery, to canvas to jewellery, to carvings and native arts as well."
It may seem like a bit of a departure for someone who is on the road training and competing for most of the year, but Richards feels she's coming into this with a lifetime of experience.
"I've always had an entrepreneurial mind," she said.
"Through sport, I've had to make it myself through fundraising and getting odd jobs and marketing myself and scheduling events - it feels like that's been my mindset my entire life, and that it's a natural progression to get into business."
The idea of opening an artisan and craft store has always appealed to her, along with the idea of doing something like this with her best friend and roommate. Bjorndal is also a budding artist who designs earrings and handbags, and the shop will also double as her workspace.
Richards knows that she'll be busy with skiing and running a business, but said she will enjoy the challenge.
"I'm definitely still really busy with skiing and it takes up a lot of my time," she said. "It's a priority to make sure that I'm fit and strong heading into the next Olympics, but this is a second passion of mine - I love arts and being involved in the community. I love being in business with my best friend. I really think this will help me focus on the hill."
When not on the hill this past winter, Richards said she was on her computer contacting artists, ordering things for the store, putting together inventory sheets and spreadsheets for the business. "It's very busy, but it's also very rewarding - and it's exciting to see it come together."
She also found time to make World Cup podiums this year, earning four medals - including a bronze at the FIS World Championships in single moguls. She didn't finish outside of the top-10 all year. Richards has also been to the Olympics twice. In 2010, she crashed and lost her ski after her first run. Instead of showing her disappointment, she egged on the crowd to cheer louder then pulled off a twisting backflip off the bottom jump - a lot of commentators picked it as one of the best moments of the Games when it came to sportsmanship.
One Earth Collection is looking for more Sea to Sky artisans, and has a Facebook page to connect to the community. Richards is also working on the website, which will be online at www.oneearthcollection.com.
The first featured artist for the store is Squamish artist Josee St-Amour.
"She's actually a former freestyle skier which is how I know her, but she's doing some really neat stuff as an artist," said Richards.
One Earth Collection is located at 104-7433 Frontier Street.
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