Harvard Common App Essay: Breaking the Ice



The Cayman Islands, our home, are renowned for their crystal clear waters, stunning beaches, and vibrant coral reefs. Of course, the absence of alpine features is self-evident for a tropical island, yet these ostensibly challenging aspects of Cayman’s climate and terrain did not hinder the establishment of the team I now represent: the Cayman Islands Confederation and Association of Snow Sports (CICASS). Unfortunately, I have been the object of frequent derision due to the peculiar nature of my ski team; few ski racing competitors suppress their initial feelings of unease towards a diversified pool of nations participating in our sport, and they often fail to realize that increased international diversity will enhance skiing’s worldwide appeal. Currently, one is considered an outsider, at worst a fraud, if he does not ski for one of the historically famous ski nations. However, this misguided prejudice is flawed, and after college I intend to continue challenging it by competing at the highest level for the Cayman Islands. A person’s athletic worth shouldn’t be decided by trivial elements such as nationality or ethnicity but rather by more pertinent factors, including athletic competence and commitment.

When I began competing for the Cayman Islands in 2008, I felt estranged from the skiing community I had previously participated in. To my dismay, I was forced to act independently, and resultantly I transformed into a target for the animosity of all but a few of my closest friends. I existed as a victim of the prevailing ignorance: The belief that a skier native to a tropical, or otherwise unusual, country must be talentless. Moreover, qualification for serious professional competitions is facilitated due to the lack of internal competition within small national teams, which meant jealousy was also evident. I became aware that the only way to validate my involvement with the Cayman team was to improve my technical ability. It was necessary to train assiduously, to learn new concepts fastidiously, and to never capitulate to athletic adversities. Little did my detractors know, I would use my emotional alienation as fuel to motivate my self- improvement.

Eventually, my industrious approach to ski-training, both mentally and physically, translated into astonishing improvements. After years of dedicated ski race training in America, Austria, Canada, New Zealand, and Norway, and off-season strength conditioning, I became my nation’s ski team captain and rose to the peaks of multiple world ranking charts for my age. It was not easy to garner the respect of my rivals, but after consistently placing on the podium at regional, national, and international races, they began to hold me in higher esteem. In the eyes of my peers, I had earned the right to the privileges afforded by my national team status.

Markedly, the moment I am most proud of came at the end of the 2012 ski season; I was ranked number one in the world for my age in the disciplines of Super-G and Downhill. This achievement did not go unnoticed in the international skiing community; one of the heads of the Fédération Internationale de Ski (FIS) expressed her delight about having a small nation atop two of the leader boards. This recognition reinforced my incentive to dispel the prevalent assumption that a respectable ski racer cannot hail from an unrecognized skiing nation, especially one that has a maximum altitude of forty-three meters.

Neither nationality nor race should automatically define a sportsman; an athlete should only ever be judged by his passion for the sport and the results he achieves in it. It is unjust to disparage a fellow competitor because he is from an unexpected country, and it is certainly unfair to assume that he does not compete, train, and work at least equally as hard as any other athlete. By realizing my dream, by summiting the professional alpine skiing world, I hope to prove these petty prejudices preposterous.

Published in Common Application Essays, Successful College Essays, Successful Harvard Essays

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