Even Olympic Athletes Have Emotional Highs and Lows

Phil Brown

Even Olympic Athletes Have Emotional Highs and Lows

Where to start? I’ll be honest, I’ve had an extremely difficult time getting words on paper for this blog. The last couple months have been an emotional rollercoaster, to say the least.

Let’s Start with the Highs

Olympic team

Being nominated to compete for Canada at the Olympics in Korea, spending time in the leader box on the second run of my Slalom race, and watching The Arkells perform at Canada House while celebrating the completion of the Games with my Canadian teammates, are just a few of the highs.

Now for the Lows

It’s not uncommon for athletes to feel low after experiencing the incredible high of being part of an Olympic Games. I felt this along with a sense of underperforming and not meeting the goals I set for myself.

This emotional roller coaster hit breakneck speed shortly after the Olympics when an unfortunate injury upon my return to Canada sidelined me for the rest of the season.

During the Nik Zoricic Foundation’s Ski4 Nik Day, I had an awkward and very slow motion crash that twisted my knee. I immediately knew something was wrong and my season had likely come to an early end. Life changes pretty fast in these situations. Instead of boarding a flight to Calgary for the final races of the season, I was making daily doctor visits. Ten days later I was in surgery to repair a torn MCL and Lateral Meniscus. And so my rehab began.

Phil Brown in a hospital

The Mental Battle

Phil Brown

Anyone who has ever been through an injury knows the mental battle is equally or more difficult than the physical struggle. Not to mention the time commitment required for the initial phase of post-op recovery. Hence my difficulty finding the time and mental space to feel confident enough to share these words.

It wouldn’t be fair for me to say there haven’t been some dark days throughout this process but I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by incredible family, friends and therapists to help me stay positive on the difficult days.

Moving Forward

I’d be lying to say I accomplished my goals and skied to my expectations at the Games. I didn’t and that’s the reality for 90% of Olympians who finish outside the medals.

That being said, the placing you see on paper isn’t always reflective of an athlete’s performance or how he/she feels about it. To describe it in the most Canadian way, I’d compare my performance to a hockey player who worked hard, played the way his coach asked, but didn’t score any goals or assists. The media and general fans won’t often take notice of this athlete because he didn’t show up on the score sheet. Yet the athlete is still very proud of his performance because he did what he set out to do and with a couple small breaks he may have been the superstar for that game!

Phil Brown

As for the future, my number one priority is getting back to full health and I will continue to chase my dreams on the World Cup Circuit next season!

A BIG Thanks


On an even more positive note, with the help of many athletes and fans, CSI STARS successfully launched the “#RecognizeYourStars” social media campaign to support the Nik Zoricic Foundation.

I am absolutely thrilled with the online participation! $2300 was raised for the Foundation this season… amounting to 150m of safety netting for skiers across the country!!

The Nik Zoricic Foundation and their initiatives will always will be a foundation I choose to support. By providing safety equipment that is up to standards they are eliminating some of the risk associated with ski racing – allowing athletes to feel comfortable in training and competition environments.

A HUGE THANK YOU to CSI STARS and Project X for their donation and to my fellow competitors for joining in the #RecognizeYourStars Challenge. Stay tuned for an even bigger splash and donation next year!

Thanks for reading another edition of my blog series! More to come…

Trouble sticking to your New Year’s Resolutions?

Maybe you’re focused on the wrong goals

As we prepare ourselves for all the adventures and experiences 2018 will offer, many of us will reflect on the past year…looking back at our successes and failures;
the good, the bad, and even the ugly

Phil's photo
Phil's photo
Phil's photo

All these experiences are equally important and part of this thing we call “life”. I strongly believe we cannot be fully satisfied with our accomplishments without having to endure and overcome disappointment or failure. The ups AND the downs are vital life lessons that enable us to feel completely fulfilled.

With a new year comes new goals

I’ve never been big on setting specific New Year’s resolutions, but as an athlete I am constantly setting and adjusting my goals. Goal setting is a skill that is engrained in athletes from a young age. That said, throughout my career I’ve had difficulty articulating my goals clearly, attainably, and realistically. This is a skill I am constantly honing because in the right context, goal setting can be a very effective tool.

It’s not just about Outcome Goals

Often when people think about their goals, the tendency is to jump straight to the long term “Outcome Goals”. It is extremely easy to become overwhelmed and impatient if you strictly set results-based goals.

Example: winning a specific competition, getting a promotion or trying to lose weight.

Consider Performance Goals

I prefer to immerse myself in another, more difficult layer of goal setting – “Performance Goals”.

  • What are the specific actions you need to take to optimize your chances of achieving your goals?

For example, if you want to lose weight, you’ll need to go to the gym “x” number of times in the week and you’ll have to stock your fridge with healthy food options.

Spend time on the most challenging layer of goal setting – “Process” Goals

“Process Goals” are very detailed and precise short-term goals that enhance your ability to reach the performance goals set. Personally, I find many process goals to be a specific mindset and not necessarily a physical action.

Using the example of trying to lose weight, your process goals may include:

committing to a routine, meal prepping, finding enjoyment in the workout grind, surrounding yourself with the right people, and finding confidence in yourself throughout this process.

Combining “Process” and “Performance” Goals will allow you to achieve your desired “Outcome” Goals.

Everyone has their own unique goals

The most important thing in this exercise is to set clear goals that ultimately serve as a reminder to keep you driven towards achieving success.

In recent months, I have used this model/visual specifically leading into a race. It has allowed me to recognize and acknowledge the result I want to achieve without going into competition with a results-oriented mindset. Rather, I can break it down into performance and process oriented goals, which allow me to stay better focused on the behaviors that make a difference and really matter.

Outcome Golas: 1-2 specific goals | Performance Goals: 3-4 actions/behaviors to enhance success in achieving Outcome Goals | Process Goals: 5-7 short-term mindset goals to help achieve Performance Golas

Goal setting is unique to everyone. There isn’t a right or a wrong way to do it, but I guarantee that when your goals are written down on paper, you’ll be less stressed and more realistic with your expectations for the coming year and beyond.

I hope everyone reading this can now set their sights on making 2018 a productive and successful year – with clear, attainable and realistic goals. Happy New Year!

Ask yourself these 2 simple questions

Before I get started, I’d like to take some time to introduce myself and share what I am hoping to accomplish through this monthly blog series with CSI STARS

I am a professional athlete—an alpine ski racer, to be more specific. Born and raised in Toronto, skiing began for me as a family activity. At a young age, my parents would drive my two sisters and I a couple hours north of the city every weekend during the winter to ski at the Craigleith Ski Club. Together, we grew a passion for the sport, eventually leading to many missed days at school because of travel for training and competitions throughout the winter.

Skiing - a family activity

When I was about 14 years old, I started to show real talent and potential as a racer and we decided to focus as much energy as we could on the sport. I moved up through the ranks and eventually at 18 years old, I qualified for the Canadian ski team and have been a member of the team for the last seven years. At 21, I raced my first World Cup and have been travelling year-round as a full-time athlete since—competing in the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games and three World Championships.

Business and sports have a lot in common

This year I’ve partnered with CSI STARS in hopes that through our relationship, I can provide insight into what it’s like being an Olympic athlete and how I can relate my experiences to the business world and everyday life.

Regardless of the profession, we can always work to learn and improve based on the experience and knowledge of others—even in unrelated fields. Business and sport may seem very different, but the daily struggles of a professional athlete can be very similar to that of a working professional. With the right application of skills, your potential for success can increase exponentially.

In this installment, I want to share with you something I have personally been experimenting with and working hard to develop in recent months — Preparation.

Several months ago, I started working with a new sports psychologist. One of the first things he asked me was, “On days you leave the house and feel mentally and physically prepared for training or competition, what is your routine from the moment you wake up?” Since then, I’ve learned that there is no right or wrong answer to this question; each individual has their own way of easing tensions before starting their workday. I started to explore this question by making a list of all the things I enjoy doing from the time my alarm goes off until I leave the door. Here’s what I found…

I am a sports fan, so regardless of where I am in the world I like to sit with my cup of coffee and check out the scores and news from the previous night in pro sports.

I am active on social media, so I scan my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter feeds while having breakfast to catch up with friends and family around the world, or read the news.

Typically, I am preparing for a day of physical activity and for my body to be prepared, I need a minimum of 10 minutes of light stretching to be sure I am feeling limber. During this time, I often put my headphones in and listen to songs that motivate me or generally put me in a happy mood. Some days I choose songs that really amp me up while other days I like to relax to something more low-key.

Finally, I need to be mentally prepared. This is a step that is new to me and has been, hands down, the most influential step to my daily success in recent months. I sit for 10 minutes and meditate, using an app on my phone called “Headspace” (I’ll expand on this below). After I’ve completed this entire routine, I feel prepared and ready to tackle anything on my plate that day.

I challenge you to ask yourself these simple questions:

  1. How can I be best prepared for a productive workday?
  2. What steps can be taken to improve my morning routine?

Timing is everything in this process

I used to think I only needed 45 minutes to wake up and get out the door. Being an athlete, sleep quality/time is extremely important, but I often found myself feeling rushed. In experimenting with my routine, I’ve figured out that I need a minimum of 90 minutes to feel completely engaged mentally and physically to proceed with my day. Believe me, this isn’t always easy. There are days where I need to be out of the house before 6am to hit the slopes, which means waking up at 430am. But in the big picture, what is going to affect your day more—losing 45 minutes of sleep or being mentally prepared to be your best self that day? The way I see it, sleep can wait—success can’t.

Earlier, I mentioned my practice of meditation. I know, I know, this may start to sound very hokey pokey! Trust me, I felt the same when my sports psychologist recommended (more like forced) I try it. But, the results speak for themselves!

Over the last three months I’ve challenged myself to be consistent with this practice. It wasn’t easy at first, but now I can say that it’s probably the single most important step in my routine to be fully prepared for my training and competitions. Being mindful and aware of my thoughts and how my body feels has allowed me to free up the ongoing clutter of worries and doubts that we have all experienced at some point in our lives. There are mental tools and techniques, such as visualization, focus or noting, that I utilize regularly throughout my day.

Show your mind some love

I have never felt more comfortable standing in the start gate with all the pressure on me to perform and execute my game plan on demand. Maybe it’s not for everyone, but I strongly recommend downloading the “Headspace” app and working it into your routine with an open mind. I truly believe that everyone can benefit from being a little bit more mindful regardless of what they’re doing with their day.

What is YOUR routine?

I encourage you to take the same challenge I did and experiment with it. Find a routine that works for you and stick with it — consistency is key and I promise that you will feel better and your work performance/output will increase!


Hey everyone!! As most of you know, ski racing (and most amateur sports) is an extremely expensive sport, that’s just the way it is. No matter what level you are at in this sport, you are always going to be spending money if you want to ski. Things like travel, accommodation, summer training, on-snow training, equipment, are just some of the expenses that add up through the year and put a major dent in your wallet! As a member of the Canadian alpine ski team, we are all required to pay a “team fee” which allows us to have a top-notch program so that we can compete at the same level as other nations.

In order for Maddy Irwin and myself to reach our World Cup and Olympic goals, we need your help!! We are holding a fundraising event in Toronto on November 5th to help pay for our upcoming season. We would like to invite anyone who is available to join us in our journey as ski racers, and come out for what will be an amazing event hosted by the Cleveland Clinic. Drinks and hors d’oeuvres will be served and we will have some amazing items up for auction during the event. Use this as an opportunity to get excited about the fast approaching ski season as well as a great way to support Maddy and I as we work our way up the ranks! So please, come out and socialize with others from the ski community at our event on November 5th.

Thanks, I look forward to seeing everyone at the event.


Welcome to Skifastphil.com

I am extremely excited to welcome all of you to my new site! The website has been in the development process for several weeks now and it is finally ready to be launched. I am not exactly the most tech savvy guy, so I won’t lie to you and say that I put in countless hours building this masterpiece. I was directly involved with the design and layout of the site but the knitty gritty work has to be credited to a few other individuals. Ralph Pieczonka (Novoveo Ventures) is an IT specialist who is hosting this site on his servers and was able to get the site up and running. Noel Mercieca (Break Point Design) is a graphic designer and can be credited for all the visual effects of the site as well as designing several different logos. I’d like to extend a massive Thank You to these men for putting in extra time to design and launch my site! I would also like to thank my Dad, Steve Brown, as he has also been very involved with the launch of Skifastphil.com.

This website has been created so that my friends, family and fans can check in and be a part of my journey as a member of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team. It may take some time for me to learn how I can optimize all of the features of this site, so be patient! Technically this is my first “blog” post of many to come so stay tuned and I will try to update it as frequently as possible. I am no photographer, but if I capture anything that I think is worthy of posting you will be able to find it here. I also plan on posting ski videos of training, racing, and anything else that you may enjoy watching. For now, feel free to explore everything the site has to offer and pass the word!

Currently I am on the road with the team at the Hintertux Glacier in Austria. It is the third year in a row that we have come here in October since it offers some great (but very tough) on snow training. I am returning to snow from a scope on my meniscus just over a month ago so I am slowly easing back into things, however the rest of the team has been having some extremely challenging days training. The snow is limited right now so we are basically skiing on black, rock hard, glacier ice. It’s extremely demanding to say the least but if you can figure out how to ski fast here then everything else will seem easy!

Our group will be in Austria for another 3 weeks before returning to Canada. That’s all for now, I will try to update the site as much as possible so you can stay up to speed with what my team and I are up to.

‘till next time – Phil

Crazy Euro line-up in the morning

Hintertux Glacier first thing in the morning

Hintertux Glacier – pretty good view from my office

The Boys and Physio getting ready to go! (Morgan, Sasha, Conrad, JP)

I jumped in for the next pic!

New Dainese set up with Skiis and Biikes head gear – Sweet!