“You got to put your behind in your past”

In pre-school our teacher asked us, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  My response?
“I want to be a Lion King! but I don’t know how I’ll drive… I’d have to sit on my tail.”

Growing up, I watched The Lion King every single day for multiple years. I wouldn’t be surprised if my parents can still recite the entire thing from memory. One of the reasons they allowed me to watch this movie so frequently is because of the many life lessons Simba experiences.

This weekend I was reminded of when Timon and Pumbaa are telling Simba that he can’t dwell on the past.  Simba

Pumbaa: “You know kid, It’s times like this my buddy Timon here says, ‘You got to put your behind in your past.”
Timon: “No, No, No. Amateur. Lie down before you hurt yourself. It’s, you got to put your past behind you.”

Saturday’s classic race did not go as well as I wanted it to.  Conditions were changing, it was hotter than we’ve raced in all year, and it felt like my skis and I were in different worlds. By the first downhill I was being passed by people half my size and my skis refused to go any faster regardless of what I did. “Alice paging skis; it’s race day, lets move a little bit!”  When conditions are changing, it’s really hard to get the wax right.  Our coaches were out there until the last minute, taking every opportunity to make sure our skis were competitive. Despite the coaches’ best efforts, my skis refused to have their normal responsiveness. It was like they hadn’t taken their shot of espresso in the morning, and were struggling to wake up. I was able to gain some ground on the uphills, focusing on good body position and using my arms, but only enough to make up what would be lost on the downhill. At the finish line, the words from my buddy Timon were running through my head. “Forget about today, lets focus on tomorrow.” 

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Warm temperatures + shining sun = I wish I had my Chaco’s

Sunday morning, I was dragging my butt worse than my skis were the day before. No matter how much I tried not to think about Saturday, I just couldn’t shake the negativity from the back of my head. I needed a pep-talk. Walking through the stadium, I found Kevin. He has been coaching me for 8 years, and knows exactly what to say to help me focus my energy.
Me: Kevin, I need a pep talk
Kevin: First things first. Yesterday never happened. Going up the first hill I want you to focus on having good technique. Get that elbow high and have good glide on each ski. After that first hill go hard and race. Can you do that?
Me: Go out and just focus on technique? Yeah, I can do that.
Kevin: And put the last race behind ya?
Me: I can do that.

So, that’s what I did.

Joe gave me the greatest split I’ve ever received:
(As I’m approaching the coaches) “We don’t have any splits…” (As I’m skiing away) “…But you look like your racing well!”

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So much sunshine!

It ended up being a great race. I was really happy with how I had skied tactically, technically, THE SUN WAS SHINING, and when the results were posted, I had the fastest time by 27 seconds. (woah, that was a surprise!)

Timon and Pumbaa were right. When things go well, it’s important to celebrate. But at the end of the day, you still have more racing to do. Sometimes races will suck, and it’s important to move past these and focus on what’s next. I struggle sometimes with putting too much self-worth into my race results. I have to remind myself that I am the same person after the 15 or 45 or 90 minutes spent racing, as I was when I woke up in the morning. Most days our skis are lightning fast, but on the few days where they aren’t it’s important to keep chugging away and pushing your limits until the last second.  Perhaps you’ll surprise yourself.

Hakuna Matata.

 

Saturday’s Press Release
Sunday’s Press Release

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We’re Pretty Lucky

This week our team has taken on many casualties, any one of which are bad enough on their own. We’ve had two people too sick to race, two concussions, five broken poles, three broken skis and two broken boots. Despite everything that has happened this week, we managed to have one of our best race weekends since I joined the team five years ago. The amount of resilience it takes to overcome obstacles in ski racing is one of the many things I find so fascinating about the sport. On any day anything can go wrong for anyone. It is the athlete who is able to adapt to these changes and push through them regardless, that becomes truly great.

My portion of the bad luck came on Wednesday when one of my skis broke during our scheduled downhill practice. This is where our entire team lines up at the top of a hill and races to the bottom as fast as we can. On our last run of the day, we were about halfway down the hill when all of a sudden there was a ski between my legs. I tried to stay on my feet but the entanglement was too much. The next thing I knew I was brushing snow off my jacket, picked up my right foot and saw that the tip of my ski had completely snapped. Awesome. Good thing they weren’t race skis… oh wait… they were one of my favorite pairs of race skis.
My parents and coach immediately offered their assistance in finding replacements before the end of the season. I’m so lucky to have this kind of support system.

“Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start”

The weekend found us at Telemark Resort in Cable, WI.
Saturday was a 5k Classic and I started right in front of my teammate Ulrika. We agreed before the start that, if she caught me (which was very likely because she’s a great classic skier) we would stick together and push each other just like we do in practice each day. Sure enough, as we go by Joe near the 2.5k mark, she comes striding by and I hop in behind her doing my best to keep up. From there we executed our plan perfectly. The unspoken encouragement of a teammate’s skis rhythmically gliding along, their poles striking at a perfect tempo and the intensity of their breathing can be way more encouraging than anyone standing on the side of the trail. If all classic races were that fun I’d have to reconsider my favoritism towards skating. There’s something about striding with perfect kick and perfect glide that makes you feel like you’re soaring across the frozen trail.
We’re so lucky to have this possibility available to us.

Sunday Skate Day!
Jordyn Ross and I have been skiing together since Highschool. We are currently some of the oldest members of our team and have the pleasure of starting next to each other at nearly every race. This has resulted in the latest testament of our friendship, Team Old!
Sunday’s skate race was no different. We knew we’d be skiing with each other; just like all of the summer practices throughout the years. My skis were rock-stars again on Sunday (Thanks Wax Techs!) and by the time we hit the first hill they’d carried me into the lead position. I was able to keep place through the first loop, up the first climbs on lap two and almost all the way through the rolling section at the end of the course. As things sometimes go in ski racing, my legs had a different plan than my brain and they decided it would be fun to sit on a tree at the side of the trail. Right when I thought I’d be able to hurdle Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree, my ski got stuck on a log and I smushed the poor thing. Rather ungracefully, I picked myself up and got back on course just in time to have Jordyn sail past. It was a hard race, but yet again I had the opportunity to race with my friends. It was hard, really hard, but we made it fun! That’s what ski racing is; voluntarily pushing the limits of your body, throw in some cold weather, lots of uncertainty and come out with something you love.

We’re pretty lucky.

Surviving the Keweenaw Glacier

Every year a polar vortex falls upon the Keweenaw turning the peninsula into a frozen playground. It is bitter cold, with blowing snow and visibility comparable to the fog found in a horror film.

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Our awesome volunteers working hard to make sure we can see the classic tracks

This year The Vortex fell upon us for the entire week and a half of the U.S. Senior Nationals competition. With the wind chill making temperatures barely legal and the fluffy snow falling so fast they trails crew had to clear the classic tracks with leaf blowers, this was bound to be a tough week.

Lisa all bundled up ready to take on the day!

Lisa all bundled up ready to take on the snow and cold!

Coming into the week it was really exciting to see the expressions on the other racers faces when they realized how much snow we have here in the Keweenaw. Coming from across the country, most of the other participants and parents came from places that have been struggling to keep their man made loops white. To ski on natural snow with at +12″ base is a real treat for anyone. However, as the week continued it was clear that the enthusiasm for real snow was dwindling.

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Awesome wax techs giving us awesome skis. You guys rock.

The week started out with a cold slap in the face with the 10k skate race. To say conditions were slow would be a like saying the ocean is wet. On a good day I can ski our 5k loop in under 14 minutes. This week the 10k took 32:40. It may not seem like that much extra time, but when you’re fighting against the snow, every second feels like an eternity. With every push of the ski the snow was asking, “Why are you trying to go so fast? Shouldn’t you be home with a cup of tea right now?” On any normal day day I would have listened, but this was the 10k skate at U.S. Nationals! Being one of my favorite events, I refused to listen resulting in the best place I’ve ever received at Senior Nationals.

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Moonlight ski and snowshoe at Nara

The next day was even colder and windier, so thankfully the race organizers decided to push the classic sprint back one day. Having this extra day of recovery was a pleasant surprise after the skate race. Tuesday came and by then I was excited to sprint. With classic sprinting technique being one of my main focus areas over the summer, this was one of the only opportunities I’ll get to see how much that hard work has paid off. Last year I finished 51st in the classic sprint, this year I was less than one second from making the heats. So close! Next step: figuring out how to apply this new found technique to distance races.

The night of the classic sprint my mom put together a really nice moonlight ski and snowshoe event. Despite the small turnout it was a relaxing night filled with lots of hot apple cider and cookies. I ate way too many cookies.

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Partly Blue Skys

Thursday. 20k Classic Race. Oh Boy.
After the classic sprint and having a cross country season filled with personal bests, I had no idea how this would end up. What I did know; last year I had felt good and ended up 52nd, I LOVE our 10k loop, our skis were going to have kick even I wouldn’t complain about, if I had a good race there was a slight chance I’d qualify for the U23 team, and If I had an awful race we still have an entire season left to qualify for NCAA’s. I had everything to win and nothing to lose. The gun went off. I started, trying to keep the lead group within reach, but by 8k I also knew that this pace was not sustainable. I dialed it back and finished with whatever I had left. Much to my surprise, when the results were posted, I had another personal best to add to my list of accomplishments for the week.

On Saturday the scheduled event was the skate sprint. However, (arguably) the most exciting event of the day was the sun finally peeking through the clouds. The Vortex was lifting! For the first time, I qualified for the heats and even managed to improve my place during the quarterfinals. This was the perfect topper to a chilly week filled with personal bests.

To cap off the week, our ladies team paired with Team Gregg to put on a morning of inspiration for the girls in the community. We played a bunch of games, on the snow and in the gym, and had some great talks about achieving your goals. I still have big goals for the season and look forward to seeing how this improvement streak progresses through the season.
Special Thanks to Chris for taking video of the event!

I’m already excited for hosting again next year!

Video Re-cap of the Huskies at US. Nationals put together by Lisa