During the most recent Winter Olympics, my husband and I were watching the men’s halfpipe competition on the old television in our bedroom, far away from the snow-packed half cylinder in Sochi, Russia. Reclining lazily in our flannel sheets, we felt distanced from the jumps and acrobatics of these extreme athletes who ride their small boards up and down and over and through the pipe.

“How do they start?” I asked my husband, wondering how a person goes from couch-potato spectator, watching snowboarders ride the halfpipe on an outdated TV, to actually making the jumps, twists, and flips in the icy track.

“They probably started practicing over mats,” my husband offered. I also pictured helmets, padded suits, and wire cables during those first few jumps. And certainly they didn’t start with 23-foot-deep, icy pipes.

When I clicked off the television and rolled over to sleep, I was still thinking of these uber-skilled athletes, how one day they were watching others do this amazing thing, and then, they decided to start doing it themselves. From the beginning.