Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or lgraham@SteamboatToday.com.
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David Lamb has been making tough decisions his whole life.
He raised the collective eyebrows of many in 2000, when he left a spot on the U.S. Ski Team to attend the University of Denver and ski. At that time, a skier leaving the highest level to ski in college was almost unheard of. College skiing was looked at as a last resort.
But Lamb made the decision, and nine years later, he is taking his finance degree and putting it to work for Edward Jones.
However, Lamb's toughest decision has come in the past six months.
Skiing always has been his life. He's lived on the road for most of his life, traveled to countless countries and was rarely in one place for longer than six months at a time.
But after a concussion left him unable to walk for six weeks last January, Lamb took a look at his life.
The last concussion in France was his third serious one of his career. The first happened during a big air contest, when he didn't rotate enough on a back flip and landed on his head. The second came during a crash at Howelsen Hill. Both times, he woke up in an ambulance throwing up blood.
Lamb realized what an asset the mind is. Sure, he could continue skiing and try to make the 2010 games in skiercross, but what would his body and mind be like when he's 40? To boot, Lamb has torn up his right knee twice and had a major back injury in 2000, one of the main reasons he left the U.S. Ski Team.
So Lamb was faced with the decision of giving up competitive skiing for the first time in his life. He said it's been the most trying year of his life. But leaning on that degree from DU, Lamb decided to venture into the financial world.
Lamb's not alone in his decision. His former coach at DU, Kurt Smitz, compared the decision to that of a heavyweight fighter. There is always one more fight, always one more opportunity.
Just look at Muhammad Ali, Evander Holyfield or George Foreman.
But a lot of times, sports at the high end are an addiction. It takes a certain type of person, a certain type of personality to make it at the highest level in sports. It also takes a certain type of person to know when it's done.
What's not strange to hear, and easily audible in his voice, is just how tough of a decision it is for Lamb. He wants to start a family in Steamboat and sounds excited for the next step in his career. But he also talks about doing the Big Mountain Circuit next year. He talks about coaching young skiers at the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.
But it's nothing new for Lamb. The passion still is there. The desire to compete at the highest level still is there.
It's just another tough decision he'll have to make.