Why not challenge our youth and even the large majority of working Americans to ask themselves; is this truly what I wish to be doing? Is this career path that I have chosen what really makes me happy? Am I pursuing my life passionately, or passively? We need to create a societal norm that encourages people to live their best life, not tear them down because their decisions do not fit “the mold” created over time. Then, and only then, will our happiness rating skyrocket.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Abigail Murer, a 5 time junior Olympian and represented the United States on the 2018 U.S. World Juniors Team. She travels the world while excelling at her sport and empowering young women to chase their dreams. She is currently working on the creation of the Fiercely Female Foundation.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I was born and raised in Wildwood, MO by a large family of ski enthusiasts. My grandfather founded the ski racing team at our local and very tiny ski hill in St. Louis, called Hidden Valley. My mother, father, and uncle were also very influential in my passion for the sport, as they all love to ski and would travel to Colorado twice a year to enjoy the Rockies, in between our short 3- month season at Hidden Valley. I began racing in the Central Region of the United States at age 6. Eventually I would qualify for my first Junior Olympics at age 11, and go on to podium a number of the events at that competition. I was subsequently approached by a coach from Ski and Snowboard Club Vail, and was offered an opportunity to live in Colorado from October through April, in order to be training/racing full-time at the academy. I have lived in Colorado for nine winter seasons; pursuing the sport of Alpine Ski Racing at the top levels, living and loving the lifestyle of a full time athlete.
What does it mean for you to live “on purpose”? Can you explain? How can one achieve that?
“Living purposefully” is ultimately my main focus. I have arrived at this mindset through my sport. In alpine ski racing, each day is a complete gamble. The risk is extremely high, in every moment of training and competition. Season-ending, career-ending, or even in extreme cases, life-ending injuries are a near daily experience. Even with every single precautionary measure taken, the risk is still there. As a result, I’ve found myself in a constant realm of purposeful living. I exercise purpose in managing risk, my body, and my mental headspace. At the same time, I can only be so careful in weighing risk. Due to the nature of Alpine Ski Racing, it is important to also live and exist in each moment, as if it were your last. I live “on purpose” by relishing the majestic mountaintop views, observe each individual personality that I come across in the sport, take in each experience as a sponge would; soak up everything possible. One moment you may be on the top of the world, and the next you could be sinking to rock bottom, so living with purpose it is a vital part of who I am as a person and as an athlete.
Do you have an example or story in your own life of how your pain helped to guide you to finding your life’s purpose?
I have had my fair share of crashes, in my pursuit of alpine ski racing. I have hit safety netting on the side of a race course at 74mph, and I can tell you; it was not fun. However, I would say the biggest source of “pain” that has shaped my overall outlook on this crazy sport, would be the hurt I see when an athlete has to walk away from something they have been working towards their entire lives; only because they cannot afford the sport anymore. I have seen countless athletes hang up their dreams due to the almost non-existent financial support in alpine ski racing. The attrition rate in my sport is only increasing by the season, and that is something I cannot sit aside and watch happen any longer.
The United States is currently rated at #18 in the World Happiness Report. Can you share a few reasons why you think the ranking is so low?
I believe the United States is #18 in the World Happiness Report for one reason, and one reason only. People are too afraid to be different. Not necessarily in a sense of self-expression, but more-so in a sense of how they plan to spend their lives. We are only blessed with a certain amount of time on this planet; some longer or shorter than others. Americans have fallen into such a pattern of “following the system,” if you will. In our society, unique life paths are too often frowned upon. For instance, it is expected of young adults to graduate high school, obtain a collegiate degree following, and then immediately thrust themselves into corporate America; working day and night until retirement at age 65 when they can finally pursue their true passions. I have experienced this way of thinking first-hand. I did not immediately dive into the life of a college student where I “must” decide a career path for the remainder of my life, after my high school graduation, at 18 years of age. Expecting 18 year olds to decide what they want to pursue as a living for their entire lives seems absurd to me. In our society, taking time, post-high school, to decide what a person wishes to do with their lives; is VERY frowned upon. As a matter of fact, that is exactly what I did, and I still encounter people, that I barely know, wishing to express their views on my life decision to not immediately going to college. I hope to encourage others to have the confidence to follow their own path; a different path. I am not saying disregard college, education is extremely important. What I am saying is, why not challenge our youth and even the large majority of working Americans to ask themselves; is this truly what I wish to be doing? Is this career path that I have chosen what really makes me happy? Am I pursuing my life passionately, or passively? We need to create a societal norm that encourages people to live their best life, not tear them down because their decisions do not fit “the mold” created over time. Then, and only then, will our happiness rating skyrocket.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Throughout my athletic career, even from a young age, it has been expected of each athlete to support one another. I personally have tried to help as many close friends, teammates, rivals, and any aspiring athletes to achieve their goals. I thrive on the successes other athletes achieve, and if there is any way possible I can help them, there is no doubt I will do my best to give them the support they need.
What are your 6 strategies to help you face your day with exuberance, “Joie De Vivre” and a “ravenous thirst for life”? Can you please give a story or example for each?
The six strategies I personally use to face each day as best as possible are:
1. Make your bed… It may sound silly, but you will have accomplished the first simple task of your day. This will inspire you to continue accomplishing simple tasks.
2. Embrace each morning… Wake up each day with a positive mind. No matter how gloomy, tired, or unmotivated you are, a positive outlook is the only way to tackle those feelings. Wake up a few minutes early, enjoy that coffee, listen to your favorite music, watch the sunrise. Enjoy the first moments of your day in blissful presence.
3. Exist in your own personal realm… Do not be a lemming. Follow your own feet, ignore exterior influences that pull you away from what you truly desire or that “gut feeling.”
4. Explore your passions… Spend more time exploring passions. Rather than sitting in front of a screen for those extra moments in the day, find a passion that sparks your interest. Spend the extra moments of your life pursuing new talents, new information, new hobbies. All of those minutes will add up, and you may just end up surprising yourself.
5. Fuel yourself with purpose… Your body is your engine, it is the most important vehicle you will ever have. You wouldn’t put low grade fuel into a high-end sports car, right? Why fuel your sports car of a lifetime with poor fuel? Fuel yourself purposefully, indulge on truly special occasions, but good fuel leads to a better running engine.
6. Challenge yourself physically… Endorphins are amazing. Make an effort to get those pumping through your body, at least once a day. It becomes far too easy to fall into a slump, mentally and physically. Do something physical each and every day to get your heart rate up there, it will not only sharpen your mind, but will increase your motivation as well.
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that most inspired you to live with a thirst for life?
One of my absolute favorite books that I revisit frequently whenever I feel “out of touch” with myself or with the chaos of every day life is Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat- Zinn. This book embodies the meditative state that is: living every single moment IN the moment. It is a road map for re-training your brain to disregard past and future worries that cloud the mind. This book has been extremely influential, not only in grounding my athletic mindset, but also my daily outlooks and curiosities. Our minds love to wander, this book simply is a tool of enlightenment used to guide those wandering minds in the most carefree direction possible.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that relates to having a Joie De Vivre? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My absolute favorite “life lesson quote” would be “…in the end it’s not the years of your life that count; it’s the life in your years.” This particular quote has been a reminder of how I wish to live my life on a daily basis. I compete in a highly dangerous sport; alpine ski racing. On top of this, I have adopted a lifestyle filled with other hobbies most would deem dangerous. There is tremendous risk in all aspects of the sport, and I am willing every single race day, to risk life and limb to ski as fast as I possibly can. This particular quote speaks to me in all aspects of my life; we have no idea how long we are on this planet, so may as well live each day to the fullest.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I am currently working on creating a foundation that creates support for upcoming and current athletes in my sport. There is an extreme deficit in financial support for alpine ski racers. Having an Olympic discipline that puts a massive burden on an athlete and the family of an athlete, is why we are seeing a greater attrition rate of athletes quitting alpine ski racing prior to reaching their full potential. I plan to build a foundation for these incredibly talented upcoming athletes who have Olympic dreams, but perhaps just don’t have all of the financial backing they need to reach that level.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
My ultimate goal is to inspire a nationwide movement of chasing and living your dream! Through my foundation, we will be able to help with the funding of up and coming athletes wishing to pursue their dreams at the highest levels. It saddens me to see how many fellow athletes have hung up their ski boots and have ceased to pursue their dreams. I have seen it time and time again; unused potential for themselves, and unused potential for their country. I wish to not only trigger a landslide of support for athletes in the realm of alpine ski racing, but hope to create a national awareness supporting athletes of all sports.
Thank you so much for joining us!