Balancing academics, Judaism in Steamboat Springs

Reprinted with permission by the Atlanta Jewish Times

by John McCurdy
Staff Writer – Atlanta Jewish Times

Considering Zoë Taylor’s disregard for the norm and devotion to her sport, it isn’t surprising that she doesn’t cut corners elsewhere.  While in Colorado, she tackles a full load of schoolwork after practice each day.  Last year she did an outstanding job balancing academics and athletics.

“Paideia has been incredible in its support of this, but they’ve made it very clear to her that she can’t sacrifice school.”  Michele Taylor said.  “I don’t know if it was doing what she loved, or the amount of discipline skiing required, or that she just didn’t have a lot of free time, but she was a better student while we were in Colorado.”

Religion does not suffer either.  The Jewish community in Steamboat Springs, Colorado is small, but the Taylors have kosher meals shipped to them from Denver and enjoy monthly visits from a local rabbi, who has services on the mountain, after which all attendees ski down the slope.  Making chalah at an altitude was “an awesome adventure.”  Michele said, but the Taylors can handle those, as evidenced by Zoë’s successful experience.

“It’s an incredible opportunity for her, to do something at the world class, elite level, on her own.”  Michele Taylor said.  “From a mom’s perspective, part of the reason we’re willing to do this is that Zoë demonstrated that she could handle all of the things that needed to be done.”

That Zoë can balance the intellectual and the spiritual with the athletic is further  proof of her independence.  After all, it doesn’t matter to her if telemark lacks publicity, or if her sport requires her to trek across the nation.

“What’s important is finding something you’re good at, no matter what people say,” Zoë said.