254: Terry Ahola Podcast

July 15, 2022

Terry Ahola: Made the US SKI TEAM from 82′-84 but got injured which derailed his Olympic dream but he picked himself up and has transitioned into a successful life.
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Show Transcript

Hey, everybody’s Mark Pattison the back again with another great episode of Finding Your Summit. All about people overcome university and finding their way. Before we get to you, today’s wonderful guest, I do want to remind everybody to go to my website, www dot mark pattison, NFL dot com. I’ve got another climb coming up in September which you can check out. Headed to France, headed to Switzer learn for for Mount Blanc and the Mattahorn. So that’s number one. Number two also on my website you can find the amazing Emmy winning best picture searching for the summit the NFL did on my expedition to Mount Everts last year. It’s pretty epic Um and so go in check that out. And then also we’ve got over two and fifty podcast now, which is a heck whole lot of podcast us. Appreciate the love. If you went to apple to give a ratings and review, helps elevate the popularity of the show so we can help inspire others. And always I continue to raise money for Amilias Everest my vehicles to higher ground here in Sun Valley, Los Angeles and New York. It’s all about trying to empower others and that’s what life is all about. So on that note, let me jump into today’s rock star guest.

His name is Terry Ohoya. I don’t think I said it’s a hold on. How you doing, Terry? Doing great things, Mark. Yeah, no, Hey, I appreciate it. So let’s back up. So I met you, uh, two years ago now. I had just come off Mount Everest and I descended, of all places, I went from the highest peak in the world to the lowest point on earth in Greenville, Mississippi. And and I know that you’ve been a part of Steve as oars Um Wonderful Golf Alta Blues Tournament for the last several years. You’ve been a big supporter of his, which is awesome. But the reason why you were there and the reason why I was there is because Steve likes to pull in different people have done notable things. In your case, you were on the US ski team many years ago and you know you had your your time, just like I had my time in the NFL, and I want to know what that was like. Um, you know, skiing so many years ago and we all transitioned through life. I know you’re not involved in ski industry anymore, but at least you get to kind of relive your glory to some level at these golf tournaments that both you and I were at. Sure. Yeah, Steve and I have known each other for a Rut twenty years. We met at Gino Torrette’s event down in Miami and we all do events. You know, I have an event I’ve had in Marquette, Michigan with Steve, Mariucci and Tom the three of us co hosted and Steve came that one. But so we’ve we’ve we’ve just been doing events in each other all the time and I actually on his tour when it was Bob Seegar. I helped to get the going with UH, with management. So anyways, Um uh, that’s that’s where we met with at Steve. So, you know, I guess we’re talking about being of my career. Yeah, I mean let’s go back and and and so you’re a guy who grew up in Michigan and you know when I’ve I’ve played in Michigan before. Um, I back in the day I was I was fortunate to play against Michigan there and we want and we beat them. But as I as I as I look out through the landscape of the Great State of Michigan and the upper peninsula, in all these different places which I’ve been to I have’m not seeing a whole lot of mountains. There might be, you know, elevated bluffs or whatever you want to call those, but not a whole lot of mountains. But but the fact is that’s where you grew up and you’re a guy that would ultimately make the US Olympic team. You’re on there for three years, two four you got injured and then you skied beyond that. But but you know, how does somebody from an area like Michigan like I grew up in the state, in Washington, and there’s all kinds of mountains up there. I’m currently living in a sub valley. We got the most amazing mountain. You’ve been here in ski so alley. Um, how’s the guy from Michigan make it all the way to the Olympics? You know, Olympic. Backtrack for a bit. I didn’t make the Olympics. I got hurt before a Serri of I was third number ranked, third and slam. So I was going behind Phil and Steve Mayor and so but anyways, a couple of parallels between Steve and I is I always I wondered where his music came from. And when he visited my hometown and I showed him a little spump that I grew up on a rope toe skiing, he couldn’t believe. But I did what I did, and then when I went to Delta Soul, I got him, I figured out his how he writes, because where he’s from the soulfulness of of the you know, Mississippi Delta, and so anyways, no, no, no, terra. Just to clarify, you’re talking about Steve Azar Red. Correct. Yes, again, because you’re bloed in Steve Mayor and film mayor, which, by the way, they’re from this great state of Washington, right, and they got up and and a little teeny tennis skiers are called White Gus. Yeah, Yakaman is the town there from a side bit, uh, Cooper Cups Dad played with Phil in high school football. So Cooper cuts killing it right now. I emailed Phil and I said did you play with his Daddy? Was Hell, yeah, we’re good friends. anyways. Call. So, uh, back to my beginning of my skiing, I guess my mother started me as a young, young skier, probably three, and I grew up on a little, little, Small Hill that not even grew up and I was at park and and if people were sledding and my dad took some of his old shoes, cut the toes off and put him on the skis and that’s what I had for skis and poss only with a kind of spiral fracture if I fell. But I couldn’t fall because I would hurt. But anyway. So from there I moved to you know, uh, Cliss Ridge, mout Cratt Mountain, which is uh in Marquette, and then iron mountain, Pine Mountain, two very small probably, uh what are they? Probably three hundred vertical feet, maybe. I don’t know. So when you say when you say Marquette, you’re now talking about Wisconsin market, the up. That’s northern Michigan. That’s where Mooch played football as a quarterback and uh Tom Azoll his best friend as a child that played basketball there. So Marquette is kind of the northern Michigan is the college. But so I advanced at every level. Uh, and I think the first race my mother took me to was a place called Indian head mountain and I’ve been on this Little Hill of gladstone where I’m from, uh, you know, until then. And it’s my first race as an organized race called, you know, U S S A and uh I got to Indian mountains and this course had like three, three different headwalls and I went, I can’t, I can’t do this, and I probably felt ten times. I don’t I don’t remember exactly on the times, but every one of those experiences, as I kept going, uh, we’re a new experience for me because I’m from a middle class family and uh, you know, I ended up uh having some success at sixteen and made the junior nationals and I was on my first airplane ride going to the junior national and squaw valley, and so I think that a lot of my drive came from all these new experiences that I wouldn’t have if I wasn’t an athlete. And so, you know, would would have the opportunity of experience. And so when I got for I’ll go back to square valley. So we made the junior nationalist sixteen. Get The squaw valley. I see all these kids I’ve been reading about, you know, in Ski Racing Magazine, all this stuff, and I’m going, I can’t do this, no way, not possible. And and uh, I guess, you know, eventually that kind of went away, even even though, uh, it was still doubt in my mind because I’m from a small mountain, like I said. And then so I moved to veil at nineteen. See an eighty. When I was eighteen, joined Ski Club Vale, which is where a lot of kids are outcome. That’s where Lindsay van came out of, you know, and Lindsay vonn started in Buck Hill, Minnesota, with a coach I know, Um Eric siler. So she came from tiny Little Hill then became one of the world’s best bown Hillers, you know. So, uh, anyway, so it got to veil and that was another new experience, living in a town on my own and trying to make you know, uh, you know. And I was members Ki Colle Veil and I started winning racist and when it’s my second year it’Sville, I won ten sloans in a row. Uh, fund the circuit. Uh, there was a Um, uh Eldoro Cup, and so I was beating nationally ranked kids all the time. And how did you just that? How did you support yourself? You know? So there’s kind of two questions laced in here. Number one is, you know, I’ve been skiing for all my life, okay, and obviously my, my, my, my, my, my main path that I went on was was football, from college to the NFL. Obviously started in high school and and but I do know that in between, during the winter when I wasn’t playing football, be up skiing and it could always create a very much of a party atmosphere, right, and that’s just kind of the culture of of skiing. And so too there’s two questions. One, how did you support yourself? That’s one. And two is how did you stay focused on the end game, which is to go to the Olympics? Well, putting yourself in a culture that it’s good times, you know, on the mountain, Drinking Beers and all that stuff. Well, at eighteen years old. Yeah, I guess it’s interesting because our family had a concrete business, ready mixed concrete. So that’s the summer business. It’s not so good in the winter in Michigan. So my dad pretty much put me through every construction experience there was. I worked in an asphalt crew for one summer and I remember because it’s how focused I was between asphalt coming to the to the truck and I was a loop ban they caught, you know, and on the highway I’d go down in the ditch and you sit ups and these guys have a part of the crew. You know what’s going on here? Crazy say, I’m scaring. That’s what I do. So I read that’s how I made some money to support what I was doing. My parents didn’t have a lot of money, so it was not and skiing is not a very easy support to get into what no money, it’s for sure, but I guess I worked almost every summer uh, in some phase of construction to support what I was gonna do in the winter. Aside from that, I went to Mon Hood probably ten years in a row from a month of summer, and so then I go back to work. But monehood is where the glaciers are. That’s for every many trains, and so all those that for all the people that don’t know about hood is an Oregon and, like you said, it’s a mountain, big old glacier and there’s actually uh, there’s a chair that goes up and down and you have to go there to train. That’s where all the teams go. Now back in the day. There’s just a few, but I guess so. So supporting myself is how I did that. What was the second part of it? Yeah, I just had to yeah, and and in the second part was just, you know, how did you stay focused on the end goal of going to Olympics while being in a part of the atmosphere? Well, that’s interesting, because I was uber focused. So, even living in Vale, Colorado, which is a tough talent to live in, like just like you said, uh, not on Lake San Valley, and so, Um, I just I was gonna. I been winning all these races and I still did not get to notice from the USKE team. You know, I beat all their kids, all the junior nationals. I beat everybody for a whole year straight and I was about I went hold in Michigan in the summer and Uh told my dad I’m a turned professional because there was good money out there. ABC had the tour, then Bobby Atti who took the tour together, and it was that’s why I ski race, because I saw Joseph Votermatt racing when I was twelve years old on ABC or whoever it was. You know, uh, that’s what really you know, and I taught. Told Bobbyetti this many times before you passed. I said, beats, you’re the guy, you’re the reason of the Ski Racer Man, because you had ABC Tell Vision Wild Road of sports and that was the thing that drove me. So I got after that. That my second year in veil, beating everybody I got. I got kind of bummed out about it because what I gotta do, like I got. I just beat everybody all year. And so I told my father was going to turn pro. There was a bunch of money out there for me, Uh Ros, and I was offering a bunch of money with Solomon and you know, different sponsors, and so they said now let’s let’s make one effort to see if we can get you to uh to a ski team camp, and so my dad called ski team or wrote him a letter and said you guys are this is terrible. So they invited me and I remember very well said I flew into uh Portland’s because it was training at Um up in Mount Hood and uh all these kids from the east, you know, and I showed up like in a dress shirt and suit or someer camp, because that we I didn’t know. So we get to the mountain and uh, I beat everybody by two seconds in time trials the whole the whole week I was there. So they had to take me and they had to take me to Europe, you know. And I remember coach was named Conrad Rickenbach, and I came down and I had reps telling me I was winning by two seconds, like from Dina Star. Guys that that I knew forever said man, you’re taking everybody’s Butt and uh, it’s awesome because they’re all behind me. And so, uh, Conrad just looked at me when I came down in one of my run and he said, yes, I gotta taken to Europe, and the smirk on his mouth, you know. And Uh, and then I went down to the dry line training, and you’ll appreciate this because as a football player I did two it as a high school player, you know. So we had to have certain criteria, run the mile in a certain amount of time. Uh, you know, different parts of you know, physical fitness. And I remember I did the mile and I went behind the bleachers and threw up and all these kids from the east right, they’re going, he’s just thrown up. And I came back I said what’s next. That’s what we do right two days, and so that also was part of, you know, probably what one reason they wanted to take me. And so once I got there to to the team, I guess, uh, one thing that really inspired me was Phil and Steve Meyra Um, watching them work what they did. UH, Steve, Phil was the first guy at breakfast at six in the morning with a ski boots on. I mean not wearing a skiing for a couple hours yet, but you guys, boots on. He’s ready to go. We’re going up on the glacier in Italy or somewhere ever we were. and Uh so, so I guess more than anything, goes to really made me see the see what’s what’s out there and how to work at it and be straight about you know, not party in getting rest and all that stuff. So I guess they were an impact. and Um, I guess, you know, from there on you just you just try to you have to stay focused because you’re going you’re doing a sport that you’re going very fast, and so there’s not a lot of room for party, and especially when training camp, you know, and so I’m sure you agree with that. From the NFL standpoint. You know, it’s it’s it’s serious business when you’re in there. Uh, you get injured very easily in football as well in skiing. So so that was a yeah. So so I think when you are in the sport of racing on skis, it’s not if it’s when you’re going to crash, and that’s just the way it is, and you’re crashing at very high rates of speed. Um In four after being on the Olympic team and the team you know, and I know that I’ve said very the year before. Three. So, yeah, yeah, it’s so so the US ski team, but that leads them to the Olympics. You know, ultimately it’s your own the US ski team, and that’s your goal to go and and now you suffer a pretty tough injury and now you’ve got to battle back and you know, once people go through that, we’ve seen this with Lindsey Vaughan, we’ve seen this with many other people where, you know, they get blown out, their their knees, they’re all over. It’s, you know, the Classic Wild Wide World of Sports. You mentioned this before, but when they’re talking about the thrill of victory, to the egg near defeat and the guy flips off, you know, the the jump and crashes and you know it’s hardcore, right. And and so for you, what was that like? How devastating was that? And then what was the road back? Well, so, so, backtracking, I was going to talk about this. I was in the zone twice in my career as a skier, and and the zone meaning everything was in slow motion once. The first time was at Mon Hood when I beat all those kids and all those trials. I was I didn’t think I was going fast. That’s that’s how that’s what I experienced as his own uh so, then we went to Europe for, you know, the next year or that season, and uh I was so on my game. I started like a hundred in a race at road cover race, you know, maybe ninety nine, I can’t remember, with starting orders way back, and I came down and I was top five both days and I thought for sure I was going slow and from there on I was skiing having every race. It felt like it was a slow motion for a month or so and we flew from uh, Zurich. This is interesting because you’re from Seattle, right. We flew from Zurich to Seattle and we parked our our our buses, our vans outside of our hotel. Uh, we’re going to the U S nationals at mission Ridge when, uhh. Yeah, and so all of our stuff got ripped off, everything was gone from our vans at the red roof in in Seattle airport, you know. So we ended up, you know, getting new stuff or whatever, and we went to uh, up to Manatchie and at that time mark I couldn’t. I knew I couldn’t be beating as long. I was in his own still and it was happening in the first run US national. I want. I was in the first place and the second run I’M NOT gonna lose. I know that. I feel that good about it. And UH I got my ski kind of just caught, not caught even just. I think that in fact it was skiing so well. This is crazy to say, but it was so well at the time I overpowered my knee because my my my quad and my you know, hamstrings, we just it just tore up. My blew out my a C L in mid turn. I did not crash nothing, I heard. So I see. I can see that all the time now in the NFL. When a guy does a little tweak to his knee and they tried to come off and go it’s okay, that’s Torny C hill, because it happened, you know. And so that happened. I blew it up and I and I thought for myself, man, I think, I don’t think it’s that bad, you know. And so we drove, we went from Seattle, or from when actual down to Tahoe and it was a big ten foot stone snowstorm and I couldn’t get from squaw valley to Lake Tahoe to have my he operated by Dr Steben or even looked at. And I still kept thinking it was good because I had looked like a week before I was able to even get to the doctor. But, uh, anyways, I had surgery and it was an a C L and it was it’s tough to take, man, when you’ve been working your ass off too to get where I got, you know, and here it is and the only, the only good thing that came out of it probably that I wouldn’t have married my wife if I would went to Olympics and eight four a, you know. So, and I’ve been married three or seven years. So you mat her. Yeah, uh so. So, anyways, uh, Rehab starts and I was working my butt, just like I always as you try to get it and and uh, they put us back on skis in six months, unlike NFL anywhere. You know, I had I had an operation in March and I was skiing September in Austria, and so that’s pretty early. But I still was pretty gingerly about it, you know, and I was still Ryan third and so I would you know, the lympics are coming up and I didn’t I couldn’t go. And so that’s what happened. And so after four I turned professional and cooked that money. They got a nice fat contract with a couple of company ski companies and I bought a new car and started traveling on the circuit and it was still had great TV deal with ABC, you know, the tour did and uh, it was still it was enterprising. I made a lot of money professionally and I’ made a lot of money from sponsors. So I mean, I mean living out of it, you know, and it was. It was a great experience travel over the country before that, over the world. In fact, I went I started modeling, closing Tokyo and Japan, part of Ski Wear and UH, sportswear, and so that. That’s what I guess. Back to where you asked me about how I get where the drive came from. Everywhere I went in my sport I got a new experience and I was really appreciative it, you know. Yeah, no, that’s great. So recently in some Valley of the debut of film, uh, with spider savage, and I’m one. I’m wondering and I have no clue about his story. You know, the guy was a rock star for a certain every time at the end he had yeah, well, a lot of people did. You know, look great death. It was charismatic. And then he then he he gets together with this Wacko check and she ends up shoot him and killed. Yeah, yeah, so it was just it was it was amazing. But were you skiing about the same time that? You know, I’m younger than him, so he was one of the guys I would see on TV that would inspire me, which I told Bob I want spider man for sure. I remember him because he was on k twos, which I thought was really cool. I mean, I didn’t think it would be any chance I would do that, but that’s what I wanted to do and I was inspired by guys like spider and uh, like I said, Joseph Vodermack, different names from the past on TV. But yeah, he was. He was super cool guy and I didn’t know Mark Mark Tosher knw him well because mark from Aspen Priston Cooper’s husband and who was a friend of mine, and I forgot to say that. But uh, he was an asping guy and and man it really was. I guess it was some kind of the gut shot to the tour when that happened, you know, because he was he was a star. So I wanted to talk to you about you know, we did the name of the show is funny. Your summit people overcoming diversity and fund in their way and we’ve just kind of documented you know, you’re you’re on this great path. Um, you blow out your knee and then and then ultimately you make a back and you’re in the pro circuit. You were able to support yourself for a number of years and that all went well, but at some point in time.

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