Chris Lillis ready to write his own chapter in Beijing
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The slopes and Chris Lillis. A match made in heaven before he was even a teenager.
"Not like a huge skiing background in our family but honestly I started skiing when I was 3 and I’ve been skiing my whole life," Lillis said.
He took after his older brother, Jon, who competed in the 2018 games, finishing eighth in aerials. He was on track to compete in the games, as well, but an ACL tear got in the way. Sitting that one out allowed him to fully appreciate what his brother was doing. Now, it’s compelled him to rise to new heights.
"Just watching my older brother go and compete and finish off his lifelong dream of being an Olympian, it was definitely inspirational to keep me driving for the next four years after that," Lillis said.
A positive Another inspiration: His younger brother Michael, who passed away in his sleep at the age of 17.
"At times when I don’t feel like I’m at my best or I’m doubting myself or whatnot, I like to think of him and try and draw some strength from what he would’ve done in those situations," Lillis said.
"Because Michael was the hardest worker and I think that’s the biggest thing,” said Chris’ father Bernie. “That inspiration to do everything it takes because he knows it could be just the smallest difference between being on the podium and not being on the podium."
Lillis rose up, not just on the course, but in the ranks. He placed second in last season’s World Championships.
"To compete at a high level and then on the podium there definitely gave me a lot of confidence going into this Olympic season," Chris said.
Come qualifying time, that dream he kept working towards of competing on the biggest stage had been achieved. Lillis’s is Beijing.
"You look at that whole span of being passionate about something with an end game in mind, that’s what I’m most proud of: the dedication the commitment," Bernie said.
"The willingness to make the sacrifices and stick to and now here’s your payoff," Chris’s mother, Jamie, added.
A payoff that’s been years in the making, driven by a love for the sport and desire to continue a legacy all while writing his own chapter.
Lillis skis on Thursday at 6 a.m. in the team competitions, then the following week in individuals.