My Mind On My Mind
by Jim Moran
My skiing career came to a quick halt on February 20th of 1999. I suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury competing at the U.S. Open in Vail, Colorado. I was in a coma for three weeks and in the hospital for seven months. Since then, I have had to re-learn everything-- to walk, to talk, to move my finger, even to blink.
I was a member of your US Ski Team from 1992 until 1998. I won the fourth World Cup I ever entered. I won another World Cup, and have three silvers and a bronze. I competed in the Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan, and three World Championships. I skied in many films like Warren Miller's, Greg Stump's, Teton Gravity Research, Scott Gaffney, RAP Productions, John Decesare, and I was a stunt double in the move Aspen Extreme. As far as I am concerned, I skied for all the best cinematographers except Steve Winter. I retired from the US Ski Team to pursue other skiing interests. I won the final day of the Blackcomb World Tour Extreme competition and got third overall. I competed in the X-games, with my final competition being at the U.S. Open.
So that we can start getting to know each other, I want to tell you about my experience at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano. I'll start by saying how proud it made me to represent the United States. I was at the Olympic Village, and I could not believe the security. There were guards with guns that can kill you if they don't like you. The simple fact is that you can't get in to the Village unless you deserve to.
The Olympic Village had everything that an Olympian would ever need or want. There was a store that had all sorts of Olympic gifts for sale. There was a computer room that we could use to communicate with people or work at. There was a video room we could play in, and a cafeteria we could eat in.
I remember being in the cafeteria one day and seeing Wayne Gretsky sitting all alone at one of the tables. I looked around and saw that every table was packed with athletes. I figured the only reason that he was alone was that nobody dared to sit with him. I immediately went over and took a seat. "Hi Wayne," I said. He said hi back, but was waiting for me to ask for his autograph or something. I gave him his space and didn't say a word. I just ate my meal. After about five minutes, he figured I was not a threat and asked my name. Then he wanted to know my nationality and my sport. That was our breaking point. We spent the next 30 minutes talking like we were long-time friends. I explained freestyle skiing to him, and he told me how much he loved his wife. All of a sudden, there were about 10 people that came over. Their first words to Wayne were, "Can I have your autograph?" I had finished eating, so I said goodbye and moved on.
On the first day of the Olympics, mogul skiing was the first event. They decided to send the men first. I was the first competitor. I was so excited that I did not realize that they said go by saying "NAGANO." Needless to say, I started a few seconds late. On the top air jump, I threw the Helicopter Iron Cross-a trick that I invented. I had some problems with my control on the bottom, and finished 23rd.
Going into the finals, I was 23rd, but my best friend Jonny Moseley was in first place. Jonny had the most incredible run. The course was firm and he skied it a second faster than everyone. His turns were great and his air was even better. He threw a trick that was new to the world-the Helicopter Mute Grab. I like to think I played a part in his throwing that trick. You see, I am pigeon toed so it was easy for me to cross my skis when I was backward. Jonny is penguin-footed, so he said to himself, "I will just do something different. I'll grab my ski and tweak it when I am backwards." Needless to say, Jonny became the Olympic Gold Medallist. He is the best skier I know to this day.