by KIMMY FASANI, New Mom, Professional Snowboarder, and Liv Advocate
I’m six months into motherhood and, wow, it’s so much harder than I expected it to be. As a female professional snowboarder, who was at the peak of my career when I chose to have a baby, this little one has rocked my world… in a good way. My son Koa came into this world eight days early on March 2nd, 2018, on a full moon, during the biggest snowstorm Mammoth Lakes, CA received all season, and ironically the same day that my husband’s dad passed away 15 years prior. This baby boy was destined to make a grand entrance. Learning to balance motherhood, my career, an active lifestyle, and an ambitious travel schedule has given me a new perspective on life and all that we, as the women, can tackle.
My husband, Chris Benchetler, is a professional skier and we have been together since we were teenagers. We took our time to get married (eight years) and have just celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary. Both of us wanted to have a family but never could settle on a time it felt right. We spend nine months of the year chasing snow and we are out in the backcountry for 10-15 hours most of those days. Whether it’s snowboarding, biking, rock climbing, trail running, or doing triathlons, I am an outdoor enthusiast and love spending my time exploring the mountains.
In December 2016, I won Women’s Rider of the Year from, Transworld and Snowboarder, thanks to my performance in Absinthe Films movie AfterForver. Then in January 2017, my mom passed away to cancer. My dad passed away to cancer when I was 14 years old, and as mentioned previously my husband’s dad passed away when he was 16 years old. Having these emotional things happen through our lives, really made us open our eyes to how quick life happens. These dramatic highs and lows, especially losing my mom, helped Chris and I decide that maybe a baby could now be part of our story… “Life is short, so what are we waiting for,” was our mentality.
Lucky for us, I was pregnant by June 2017. Though it was intimidating to do, I told all my sponsors the news and made it clear I was not ending my career. Much to my surprise, every one of them stood by me. Burton’s CEO Donna Carpenter even went as far to say that she would support me for multiple more years. As a mom of 3 boys herself, she understood the challenges of balancing career and family. I felt like this was a turning point for women in action sports, and for female athletes. My fear of having a child earlier was always that my sponsors wouldn’t support me and I would have to end my career prematurely. Now everyone was on board and I was in control of how I wanted my future to look as a professional snowboarder.
Thankfully I felt good throughout my pregnancy, never lost my equilibrium, and was able to maintain a very active lifestyle through my third trimester. But, when Koa arrived, we quickly realized that life was going to change as we knew it. No matter what, we were determined to introduce him to our lifestyle and the world.
Being that I had an unplanned C-section, my downtime was longer than expected so by the time I had the doctor’s approval to get active again, I was ready to move! I promised myself prior to having Koa that I would have a post-pregnancy goal of doing a triathlon… So, in July 2018, Koa was my number one cheerleader at June Lake Triathlon, where I competed in the Sprint Distance race. I was unprepared and not feeling as strong as I would have liked, but committed and motivated to do my best. I went all-in for the 1 hour15 minutes I was on the course, knowing that it was my time to give my body a surge of adrenaline and positive endorphins. To my surprise, I finished the race in 2nd in my age group. A good reminder that whatever we put our minds to, we can accomplish!
Over the past six months, we have brought Koa into the mountains splitboarding, climbing, and hiking. He’s been on multiple road trips in our van, and camped under the stars. His passport has stamps from Costa Rica, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada. He’s a lucky boy and though it sounds like a lavish lifestyle, Chris and I are admittedly exhausted. Due to our crazy schedules and travels, and because we have a six-month-old baby who doesn’t sleep much, we rarely get any rest. Maybe bringing Koa into our lifestyle and not adapting our life to Koa’s schedule was a mistake? Sure, we have asked ourselves this question but at the same time, we have been able to live life to the fullest (sleepless nights and all).
The more we travel and stay active, the quicker time flies by and we bank another great experience of life on the road as a family, and honestly, I wouldn’t want it any other way. We are constantly doing the baby handoff so both of us can fill our tanks, and tick away at our job obligations. Now as winter fast approaches, we have another hurdle to juggle: who’s staying home with Koa on the deepest powder days…