At MVHS, countless students pursue sports like basketball, soccer, volleyball and tennis, to name just a few. However, other sports remain relatively untouched. Among them is skiing, which requires snow and in MVHS students’ case, a long drive up to the mountains for practice. Despite the difficulties, a few students still compete as skiers. The two stories stories below explore two Monta Vista students and their aptitude for skiing.
Too cold, too hard, too boring.
These were freshman Kaveya Gole’s first thoughts when she tried skiing at the age of four. Ten years later, Kaveya is an international competitor, ranked second in the nation for her event, rail jam, in which she does numerous tricks on small railings.
It all started when Kaveya’s parents enrolled her in her first skiing class in Lake Tahoe.
“The first class we put her in was a group class because we thought it would be a good environment to learn in,” Kaveya’s mother Laveena Gole said. “She just cried and sat outside. [Eventually], they called us and we had to go get her.”
Kaveya’s dad, Tejas Gole, had been skiing for many years, and as a result, the entire family would often go to Tahoe during breaks and ski. Even though Kaveya disliked her first class, Tejas continued to teach her and help her ski. Eventually, Kaveya got better at skiing and enrolled in a 12 week program.
“The first couple of years when I was teaching her, that was pretty hard on me because [teaching little kids] is a lot of work,” Tejas said. “I thought if I taught them how to ski, we could go skiing and do runs like [black diamonds] together without me having to worry about them. That’s why I put her in that program, so she can learn to ski and so she can ski with me. But she completely [outdid] me.”
As Kaveya started spending more time on the courses, whether it was part of a class or with her dad, her interest for the sport grew. When Kaveya was around 10, she started skiing for a competitive team at her ski resort, Sierra-at-Tahoe.
“Being on a team took my skiing to the next level because I was skiing every weekend and I was competing and making lots of new friends,” Kaveya said. “It helps you really get into the sport.”
After this, Kaveya became comfortable on the snow very quickly. And with this, she began pushing herself to find her full potential. By the end of Kaveya’s first competitive season, she was already qualified to compete at the United States of America Snowboard and Freeski Association (USASA) nationals.
“By the end of that season she was already going places on the ski resort that I was going only really tentatively,” Tejas said. “She was doing these really hard blacks and even areas that were really not even runs ... I [would try to follow] her, thinking that she might get hurt, but she could just go through it.”
At the age of 13, Kaveya joined a freestyle team in addition to her racing team to get some variety with her skills. This choice strongly shaped her career, as she immediately fell in love with freestyle skiing and decided to shift her focus from racing to freestyle.
“I prefer the tricks and jumps compared to just straight up skiing,” Kaveya said. “I really like pushing myself and being daring; I like to take risks, so free skiing stood out to me more.”
Freestyle skiing quickly became Kaveya’s forte. She started competing in slopestyle skiing, rail jam and half-pipe. For slopestyle and rail jam, Kaveya skied while doing jumps and tricks on railings and cubes. For half-pipe, she skied on a course very similar to a skateboard ramp, while doing tricks at the top of the pipe.
“The best part is when I try something new and I land it. I love the feeling and I love the adrenaline rush when I learn a new trick and I stomp it,” Kaveya said.
Kaveya loves the creativity and freedom that comes with freestyle
skiing, viewing it as a way to push her boundaries and experiment with a sport she is passionate about. Over the years, Kaveya has grown increasingly successful at skiing, winning top three in over 15 competitions, of which seven are first place wins. Currently, Kaveya is second in the entire nation for her age group in rail jam.
With this success, however, comes rigorous training and a sizeable time commitment. The ski season lasts from December to April, and in order to train, Kaveya drives up to Tahoe every weekend and practices six hours a day.
“I do my homework at night,” Kaveya said. “Every night after I come back from skiing. And then I study right when I get back from Tahoe, so I have to do all my school work pretty late.”
Driving for four hours and skiing every weekend is understandably grueling, but for Kaveya, it is worth it for the sport she loves. She understands that her skiing commitment makes school more difficult, but she is willing to do her homework in a car or study late on Sunday night to make it work.
And although this arrangement is also rough for Kaveya’s parents, they gladly support her.
“[The time commitment can be] a challenge,” Laveena said. “She can’t do anything else on the weekends. But skiing really keeps her motivated and we like that. It’s a sport she enjoys and it makes [MVHS] bearable for her.”
Even beyond the sheer time skiing takes out of Kaveya’s and her parent’s life, there are other challenges, such as the dangers of skiing and the injuries that come along with it.
Last year, while attempting a backflip, Kaveya fell and tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). In addition to the pain Kaveya suffered, her ACL injury also stopped her from going to nationals and competing last season.
“Last year was really tough for her because she had saved up for two weeks of ski camp in Oregon,” Laveena said. “She did a lot of chores at home for many months, earning pocket money, and she saved up quite a bit of money for her ski camp. And she couldn’t go because of her ACL.”
After her initial ACL surgery in April, Kaveya had to undergo a second surgery in June to remove built up scar tissue. After that, for the first three months, Laveena took Kaveya to physical therapy almost everyday. Even today, more than a year after Kaveya’s injury, she attends physical therapy once a week to get rid of a limp she has.
With major injuries like tearing an ACL, it is hard for competitors to gain back their confidence and ski without fear even after a full recovery. Because of this, Kaveya’s family, friends and coaches weren’t sure if Kaveya would ever be as good at skiing as she was before.
“There was some worry that she be too scared when she came back and not do as well,” Tejas said. “She definitely proved us wrong on that one. “
Tearing her ACL was definitely rough, but Kaveya has not let that stop her and her skiing career. In fact, according to Kaveya, it has done the opposite.
“I kept going,” Kaveya said. “An injury like that only boosted my desire to come back and try even harder.”
Even during her recovery, Kaveya did not take a break. Rather, a month after her first surgery, she took a job at the restaurant at her resort just so she could be by the snow. Albeit with a brace and a bad limp, she would clean tables and wash pots and pans in the kitchen.
“She made the most of [her situation],” Laveena said. “I am really proud of her for not giving up … she was tough … pain didn’t bother her. I never heard her complaining about pain.”
Just a year after her brutal injury, Kaveya is now back on the snow and stronger than ever before. On April 6th-11th, she will compete at nationals, aiming to medal.
No matter what happens in competitions, Kaveya feels like skiing has taught her invaluable lessons about hard work, perseverance, and dedication. In the future, Kaveya hopes to continue skiing, not as a competitor, but for herself.
“If someone wants to be the best at their sport, they should never give up and just keep trying until they feel good about it themselves.” Kaveya said. “They should … not try to compare themselves to others or care what others think. I tried my own tricks and tried to see what I was capable of and [it really worked for me].”