Chris Parrish is something of an enigma in our sport. He has spent countless seasons as the most dominant slalom skier to ever get behind a boat; but at other times he’s appeared seemingly lost, struggling, unable to fulfill his true potential. However, through the highs of his numerous world records and some of the lowest moments of his personal and professional life, Chris has had the type of awakening that ensures success as a human, a husband and an athlete.

“My skiing used to dictate my happiness; now I realize the exact opposite is true. My happiness dictates my skiing.”

While it may have only been a slight switch in perspective, it was profound to the extent that it changed Chris’ life. “I started researching the seven chakras, the spiritual power centers of the body, and have learned how to accept the ­energy forces. If you can understand the­ natural energy around you and stop creating negative counterforces, it’s amazing how natural everything comes to you.” Talent had never been the problem for Chris. More than 20 years ago, he was putting scores into 41 feet off as a 15-year-old when only a small handful of people were running 39 feet. “I had to learn how to surrender control, stop trying to force things and let them happen more naturally.”
There was no way I wasn’t going to run two at 43 feet off. It’s like the outcome was a foregone conclusion before I even woke up that morning.
In learning to work through the chakras and accept their energy, Chris has learned that, at times, things are beyond or above his control. “The whole week leading up to that tournament, as with every one of my world records, I was experiencing this existential sense of calm and centeredness. I can best describe it as a complete harmony of mind, body and spirit.” While that 2010 record was Chris’ last to date, he doesn’t intend it to be the last of his career. “The more I grow as a person, as a human being, the more my skiing grows. I’m moving into such a positive phase of my life and surrounded by so many powerful forces, friends, my amazing wife, Kayla — my skiing is definitely growing with me on this journey.”

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It started with what felt like a knot above my rhomboid, and within minutes I had searing pain shooting down my right arm, followed by numbness on the entire right side of my body.
It was a typical day on the water for Chris: a couple of warm-up passes followed by a shortline assault through a relatively clean 41 feet off pass. “I got out of the water, did my typical post-ski stretch and started to feel a little tension in my neck. Within the hour, I was agonizing in an ice bath, trying to come to grips with the inexplicable pain I was in.” Through multiple visits with myriad specialists, herniated C5 and C6 vertebrae would be the diagnosis; surgery and considerable subsequent time away from the water were inevitable. “Skiing had always been there for me. I’ve been on the water for what seems like my entire life. So, to have it literally taken from me was a real eye-opener. I was miserable at first, but it would eventually remind me how much I love it.”

There were a few really dark weeks for me. I was depressed. I couldn’t leave the house. I’d try to go to the grocery store, but even that didn’t make sense to me.
The summer of 2015 would serve as the greatest test of Chris’ strength as an athlete and test his very faith in spirituality. “I was having a great season. I finished on the podium at two of the first three events; I was grounded, in love and skiing great. Then, just like that, I injure my neck.” In the weeks that followed, coming to grips with the possibility of never skiing again, Chris would lose one his closest friends, a mentor and fellow competitor. “I can’t explain how hard it was for me when Andy Mapple died. He had been such a huge part of my life for 20 years and, right when I felt I was already at my lowest point, he was gone.” Like all who knew Andy or followed his career, Chris was left to make sense of his untimely departure. “Life without Andy has taught me a few things. I value my friends and family more now than ever, and I’m less hesitant to lean on them when I’m in need. I know I wouldn’t be the man or the skier I am today without having had him in my life.”

This article was originally published by http://www.WaterSkiMag.com. Which can be found here: http://www.waterskimag.com/chris-parrish-way-life/?src=SOC&dom=fb

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