"Enthusiasm is the yeast that makes your hopes shine to the stars. Enthusiasm is the sparkle in your eyes, the swing in your gait. The grip of your hand, the irresistible surge of will and energy to execute your ideas."
- Henry Ford
The outcome was never really in doubt. She'd pushed her body to the very limit. Had accomplished deeds on her skis reserved only for the very best. Olympic finals, World Championship podium, top o' the pops in the international skicross world — the Whistler-born kid with the famous last name had defied the odds and forged her very own path to success in the snowsport world. But her rise to prominence had come at a terrible price.
I'm sure I'm not the only one who heaved a sigh of relief when Julia Murray announced her retirement from active competition earlier this summer.
"It was a pretty easy decision to make," the 23 year old tells me. "There's more to life than competition. Longevity is very important to me." She pauses for a breath. Gathers her thoughts. "I mean, I'm still so young, and there's still so much I want to do." She stops. Smiles. "I live in one of the coolest places on the planet. And all the things I want to do are literally just out my front door. I want to be riding my bike, skiing, touring, hiking... for years to come, you know. I want to do more than you can do on a gimp leg."
Murray hasn't strapped on a pair of skis in a year and a half. "It's the longest I haven't skied in my life," she groans. And it hasn't been easy. You see, she's still rehabilitating her knee after major reconstruction work in the spring of 2011... her second significant knee surgery in two years. And while she's looking forward to the upcoming season with gleeful anticipation, she also knows that the damage she suffered in the skicross trenches will probably haunt her for a long time to come.
There's no denying Julia's success in the slam-bam world of head-to-head racing — in some eerie way she was able to combine her mother's ski-acrobatic talents with her dad's downhill audacity... while adding a little Julia race-sauce of her own to the mix. But it begs a profound question: given her injuries, was it all worth it?
"It was an amazing trip, those five years," she says. 'There were so many ups and downs, you know. It taught me so much. It really made me who I am today." Another long pause. "Attending that first skicross camp... I mean, that totally changed my life. It was such an amazing trip. To follow in my parents' footsteps, to experience what it means to race at such a high level — that was priceless. And all the friends I made. I mean, that's the most important. The memories...."