Birkie Fever

As I sit down and write this, there are exactly 297 days until the next American Birkebiner. Since registration opened yesterday, I am writing my training plan to ensure I’ll be more prepared this coming year than last year. Like a college student attending their first “real” party, no story could prepare me for what awaited at the greatest race on American soil.

It’s 4:32am. I can see the warm glow of last night’s embers in the fireplace as the clock slowly ticks above the mantle. I roll over but know I won’t go back to sleep. In 3 hours, 58 minutes and 13 seconds I’ll be losing my Birkie virginity, and I’m more excited than a kid on Christmas. Finally my alarm goes off. As I head to the bathroom, the gurgling in my stomach is a reminder of all the carbohydrates I ate the night before.

Before I know it, I, and thousands of others, are rolling up to the venue. As we exit the bus, anxious to get this party started, there is faint music playing in the background telling everyone that this is the place to be. While running to the start line, I am reminded that the real reason skiers wear spandex, is not because it’s easier to move in and aerodynamic, but because it does a great job of showing off all the squats you did during dryland. Looking around at the competition, I was hoping I had done enough.

The gun goes off. The flags go up. And before I know it, we’re racing! After the first surge of adrenaline subsided, I looked to my left to see none other than 4 time Birkie Champion, Caitlin Gregg skiing along side me. That should have been the first clue that I was a bit in over my head, but I was having too much fun to care. I was able to keep up for most of the race, but somewhere around 40k I fell off the cliff. Hit the wall. I bonked. But there was only 10k left, so how bad could it  be?

Somehow, (I can’t remember all the details) I crossed the finish line. My friends tell me that I finished strong, but for some reason that seems skeptical. What I can remember is stumbling over to the food truck, trying to ask the attendant for a chocolate milk, and not being able to form any real words. To this day I won’t be able to tell you exactly how many doughnut holes I consumed before passing out, but I can tell you that they’ve never tasted so delicious.

When I finally woke up from my nap, it felt like Uncle Fester was trying out his new clamp on my head. Guess I forgot to drink enough water. While filling my one gallon pickle jar at the kitchen sink, I reflected on the events earlier that day. A smile crept across my face. My head may be throbbing, my back may be sore, and my legs may barely be able to keep me upright, but skiing the American Birkebiner was great!

I can’t wait to do it again.

Birkie  Results

Trust the Process

When I was in High School, I had a teacher that believed letter grades were simply an arbitrary requirement. He went on to explain that, with the way our school system currently works, these letter grades measure instantaneous intelligence and are very poor at representing how much a student actually learns in class. Therefore, his goal was not for each student to get an A, but rather for each student learn as much as possible while developing a passion for learning. Since then I’ve taken notice of the people in my life who have this “lifelong learner” outlook. These people focus on the steps it takes to achieve great goals, and trust that with hard work, positive results are sure to follow.

I’ve had years in my skiing career where the sole goal of each race was to move up the CCSA points list. I went into each race knowing exactly how much time I needed to beat my competition by in order to qualify for NCAA’s. It wasn’t until I stopped worrying about placement and started focusing on perfect technique, that I was finally able to qualify. That same year I became All-American, a goal I didn’t even know was possible until halfway through the race.

SoHoNCAAs

15K Skate, Soldier Hollow UT  (Photo Credit: Paige Schember)

Last week at US Nationals, evidence of trusting the process once again became blatantly clear. Due to the time restraints of Grad School, I have been forced to take a close look at my training and specifically design it to match my race goals. Since all of big goals are in distance skate events, my training all summer and fall have been focused on distance skating. Add in a late start to snowfall and the resulting lack of time to get acquainted with new equipment, and it’s no surprise that my first race at US Nationals (10K Classic) was less than ideal. Negative race results are never fun, and it is REALLY hard to keep bad races from impacting your mentality in upcoming events. Going into the 20K skate, I was feeling less than 100%, but knew that if things were going to get better I would have to rely on habits and routines which have already been proven successful.

Proven Successes:
Nutrition: Parmesan Chicken for dinner and a smoothie for breakfast   √
Course Preview: I can ski these trails in my sleep   √
Skis: Pick the fastest pair (duh)     √
Clothing: Layers on bottom and less on top to prevent overheating   √
Strategy: Go out in control, with the best technique you can muster, then crank it up. Stay calm and intense, no matter what happens, you know how to do this.    √

 

US Nats 2016

20K Skate, Houghton MI  (Photo Credit: Skinnyski)

 

With my goals for the day so focused on racing smart, I thought I’d misheard my coaches that the front of our pack was top 10. Realizing that they weren’t wrong, I stuck to the plan and tried not to get dropped. At the end of the race, I went up to my coach and as soon as he saw me, all he could do was laugh. I was laughing too. Not only was it a fun race, but it also proved that all of the training I’ve done this year has worked.

US Nats classic

10K Classic, Houghton MI (Photo Credit: Annika Ferber)

I’d like to say that I never doubted myself, but I’d be lying. Having less than desirable results really sucks, and it’s very easy to start second guessing your coaches and yourself. What separates great athletes from the rest of us is not simply the hours in their training log and their fancy equipment, it’s also their ability to trust the process.  They are able to see roadblocks as mole hills, they understand that it’s not going to be easy and above all they never stop believing that their work is worthwhile. As one of my teammates shared with me before NCAA’s:

“I don’t believe you have to be better than everybody else, I believe you have to be better than you ever thought you could be.” ~Ken Venturi

 

#LakePlacid2015: Part 2

20150309_122847[1]One of the things I was looking forward to most, about going back to Lake Placid, was the chance torevisit the Olympic Training Center and the USA Luge offices. The last time I was in Lake Placid was 9 years ago for a USA Luge camp, this was before I even knew skiing was a sport. I was there for one of the scouting camps that the team puts on to look for potential athletes and to show young people what it’s like to be an Olympic caliber athlete. The entire week was an experience that has (and will) stick with me forever. Speeding down the track in a luge sled, eating, sleeping and breathing a single sport; this was the first experience I had of being an elite athlete. I absolutely loved it! Although I didn’t continue luge after the training camp, the attitude and passion has had a huge impact on the energy I’ve been able to put into skiing. Since we were in town, it only seemed fitting to stop by the USA Luge Office and thank them for the experience they provided. Everyone in the office was very nice and it was fun to hear how the program has done over the past few years.

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The track at Mt. VanHoevenberg

Jamacian Bobsled team members getting ready for a run

The walk down memory lane continued as we walked the track at Mt. VanHoevenberg. Luckily we arrived during Skeleton and Bobsled practice. Watching the athletes go down the track on a TV screen barely does their speed justice. Bobsleds can reach 80 mph! About halfway though our walk up the track, a truck pulled up to us and the guy inside offered us a ride the rest of the way. This guy turned out to be “The King” of Mt. VanHoevenberg. He is a retired Bobsled athlete that got into the sport because he spend a long weekend in Lake Placid (in the 70’s) and still hasn’t left. He is in charge of all of the ski trails, the track and facilities at the venue. The King gave us an awesome tour of the starting area and even introduced us to the Jamaican Bobsled team!

As it turns out The King (we never learned his real name) was given the option to coach the Jamaicans when their team was developed. Instead he chose to stay in the US and coach our development program. As our tour was ending, he wished us luck at our races and we continued on our way to the next Olympic Venue. The Herb Brooks Ice Arena.

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Home to the Miracle on Ice

Lake Placid has a huge amount of Hockey history. Part of this is due to the 1980 games when the USA Hockey team upset the Russians winning the gold medal. Walking around the arena it was fun to picture the stands filled with cheering fans as the “Miracle on Ice” became an official win for the United States.

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Outdoor Speedskating track

Just outside the Herb Brooks Arena is the outdoor Speedskating track. This immediately caught my eye and served as yet another reminder of my failed 2014 new year’s resolution. Since watching the Olympic Trials last January in Salt Lake City, I have been determined to try the sport. Unfortunately none of my potential lesson leads have worked out, so I have yet to get on a pair of skates. This year I am more motivated than ever to arrange a lesson. I can’t wait to feel the blades glide across the ice, be able to compare the skating movements to that of skiing, and to have the sensation of flying.

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Tuesday night was the NCAA banquet. The food was surprisingly good this year, although our table was one of the last ones released, so maybe we were just exceptionally hungry. The host school, St. Lawrence, welcomed us to the event and wished all of the athletes luck at our competitions. The program was well put together and short, which no one complained about.

The first event of the week was the 5k skate race. Coming off our Regional Competition, I was super excited to see how our girls performed at a National level. With my pigtails up, the proper amount of pre-race dancing and full confidence, I clipped into my skis ready to leave it all on the course. I had a plan, and executed it the best that I could. Crossing the finish line, I immediately wanted nothing more than a nap. This is always a good feeling, because when this happens I know that all my energy was used during the race. The result didn’t end up being very good compared to the other races I’ve had this season. Although this was disappointing, I know that all of the variables I could control were in their proper spot. My mind was where it needed to be, I had the training, breakfast was standard and I had completely exerted myself. One of the things that drew me to skiing, is the number of unknowns each race contains. Sometimes things go in your favor, sometimes they don’t. That’s what makes racing fun! imagejpeg_0

The next morning my head was still super foggy from the race, and the entire experience was surreal. Luckily Miss Rachel made an (almost) surprise visit with enough energy and excitement to even make Eeyore smile. Skiing, hanging out in the hotel and going on a pre-race walk with her was a sorely needed attitude boost! By race time the next day, it was time to give the best performance I could. This was it! the last race of my college career.

For our team as a whole, this day went much better. Deedra had her best finish ever at NCAAs, I improved on my place from last year, and Tom and Hakon improved on their places from Wednesday too. It was especially exciting to watch the boy’s finish as Freddie (NMU) claimed the top of the podium.

Day 3 Recap Video

The week was capped off with the Slalom races at Whiteface. Being Nordic skiers, naturally we walked up the ski hill rather than taking the lift. It was exhausting. Cross training for next year?

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Watching the Women’s Slalom was super cool. Seeing them fly around the gates, it’s kind of crazy to think that the NCAA considers Alpine and Nordic the same sport. If any of those girls had seen me going down the final hill on Friday, they would have been appalled.

 

 

Our journey back to Houghton was much smoother than the way out. Everyone had boarding passes and no one got stopped at security for too long. When we landed in Minneapolis the Chaco’s immediately came out and it was so warm all of us decided to change clothes before heading off to dinner. Winter has definitely left the Twin Cities! Spring here we come.

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Seat partner Hakon making sure I don’t get into trouble during the flight

 

All in all I could not have asked for a better collegiate racing experience. To be able to share this with my family, friends, teammates, coaches, and sometimes even strangers, has been a great adventure. It’s hard to believe that it’s really over, but I’m excited to see where the next year will hold.

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Post Race Family Picture, I’m so happy they were able to share this entire experience with me!

 

All Hail the Wax Techs and Inspiration From Afar

 

Part 1: All Hail the Wax Techs

The weekend before the NCAA Regional competition (better known as Birkie weekend) our team was invited to do a small time-trial race at Al-Quaal to practice racing the course. Those of us who chose not to attend the greatest ski race in the country (The Birkie) waxed our skis with the black stuff on the wax bench, and set off to Ishpeming for some quality time on snow.

When we got to the venue and the sun was so bright and warm it felt like a beach! Except it wasn’t actually warm, it was really freaking cold. But the sun was out! and as long as you stayed out of the wind and shade it was lovely. (We hadn’t seen the sun in a while.)  The format was 5km skate, so we lined up, and at perfect intervals set off on the Teal Lake Loop. Everyone raced hard and it felt good, like racing.

After the race Joe, who was out at his favorite splits spot, came up to me and said, “Nice work today, but what did you put on your skis?! They sounded really slow.” That’s when we realized that many of us had put the wrong stuff on our skis and are helpless when it comes to waxing for ourselves on race day. .

Words of Encouragement from our beloved Wax Techs

Words of Encouragement from wax tech and coach AJ

That weekend I was 45 seconds behind the leader. The very next weekend at Regionals I ended up taking the lead by 3 seconds. Same course, same racers, same athlete, different wax. The amount of variables in this sport never ceases to amaze me.

As Athletes we often take for granted how much impact the work of our wax techs have on our race results. Every time you see someone on the podium, it is the result of hard work from multiple parties. Even though the racer is the one getting their picture taken, it is important not to forget about the coaching staff, parents, teammates and friends that stand behind them every step of the way.

Thanks guys! We all owe you one (or twelve!)

Part 2: Inspiration from Afar

Tuesday Morning, I’m pretty sure everyone in the library wanted to stuff me full of cotton balls while the Women’s Skate race was happening.  Having spent multiple training sessions along side Caitlin Gregg and racing against Jessie Diggins in High School, being able to watch them and the rest of the women’s Nordic team race live at the World Cup was a real treat!

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Caitlin and Jessie doing amazing things!

 

The performances Caitlin and Jessie had that day were truly inspiring. Being a Minnesota Girl myself, it is especially exciting to see these two representing our country in such a wonderful way. Even the local news papers had real articles about the races! Real news about ski racing! It’s about time.

Performances like this serve as a great reminder why we train so hard year round, why we wake up at 6am to hit the weight room, why our families schedule important holidays around our race schedule and why we spend endless hours on rollerskis in the heat of the summer. Moments like this help justify all of the sacrifices made throughout the year. Witnessing someone achieve their goals is one of the best things in the world to see.

Diagram depicting my life path options. (Drawn by Mario)

Diagram depicting my life path options. (Drawn by Mario)

It’s usually at this point during my daydream that life takes a swing, and punches me in the stomach as a reminder that school is a thing and summer employment still needs to happen. Unfortunately tests, homework, and deadlines don’t get delayed for ski races.

On Thursday I had an interview with a structural engineering firm out of Minneapolis. With the positive vibes from the races on Monday I entered the conference room with confidence and a big smile. As the interview progressed I was very thankful for all the practice from the Career Fair and interviews the week before. I hoped that what felt to me like stumbling in the dark would be considered acceptable by engineering standards. Just like after a hard race, I left their office analyzing every instance I could have done better and looking forward to the next event of the week, the final NCAA qualifying races.

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Husky Puppy is ready to race!

Our team returned to Ishpeming for the NCAA Regional competition and once again the sun was shining beautifully! This time, with our wax techs by our side, it turned out to be a great weekend to be a Husky! We achieved 6 top ten finishes (including a second place and two Regional Championship titles) and a lot of really great performances all around. It was a wonderful way to end the regular season!

Next up NCAA’s here we come!

Saturday’s Press Release

Sunday’s Press Release

NCAA Qualifyer’s from Tech: Tom Bye, Hakon Hjelstuen, Deedra Irwin and Alice Flanders

 

Brain Supernovas and Impending Doom Clouds

Since our first races in Minneapolis, an impending doom cloud has been slowly forming and following me around. These doom clouds are filled up with stressful situations that you know are coming, but can’t do anything to prevent except hope you can find your umbrella when it actually hits.  Sometimes they are filled with negative situations, and sometimes they are filled with exciting opportunities. Regardless the effect is usually the same. About a week of way too little sleep, way too much time spent on campus and not nearly enough exercise. This Spring my doom cloud hit on Wednesday February 18th at 2:25 when I got home from school. Due to the build up, this cloud has caused my brain to supernova, releasing energy in all directions, creating more new career opportunities, developing connections with people I didn’t know before, testing my limits, leaving me exhausted and picking up the pieces.

Week 1: We finally have a weekend off from racing! Hallelujah. It is so nice to have a weekend at home to try and contain the messes of everyday life. Like laundry.

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Swedetown Trails

This weekend our team had a beautiful (but cold) ski at the Swedetown trails in Calumet. It’s not very often that we get to practice anywhere other than the Michigan Tech Trails, so this was a real treat. The twisting trails, snow covered trees and squeaking snow instantly brought me back to the Gunflint Trail where I learned to ski. I needed this moment to slow down and remember the reasons why I love skiing, the reasons that provide a base for the motivation needed to race every weekend from Thanksgiving until Spring Break.

Week 2: Preparing for the CCSA Sprint Championships has been the main focus for this week. Unfortunately the trail reports about the snow in Duluth are pretty grim ranging from “Don’t bring your best race skis” to “You might as well bring rock skis.” Naturally, this makes me really excited to race on my mixed pair of non-broken partners to my broken race skis. Together they are probably the fastest pair of rock skis a person could ask for. I was most excited about my old RS11s that have been mounted on the wall since their accident last spring.

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Display frame for my 1st pair of race skis, showing off all of their personality. Thanks Dad!

It felt so good to ski on my original race ski again. It was happy to be on snow again too. At times it seemed to quiver with excitement begging to go faster, begging to race. It must be really boring to hang on a wall all day, staring out the window at all of our snow knowing that you’ll never be able to race again. I could tell that the other ski was still mourning the loss of it’s partner. It wasn’t nearly as excited for the snow.
At the last minute I decided to go with one of my current pairs of race skis and helped our relay team (Ulrika-1st, Lisa-2nd, Me-3rd) achieve a second place finish for the 3×7.5k CCSA Skate Relay.

This was also the week of Winter Carnival. Together, Jacq and I were finally able to convince a couple of our friends from high school to come visit us during the week. It was a blast to have them around, to show off this beautiful place we call home, and to share the All-Nighter experience.  There aren’t many places that celebrate winter by building functional “air-hockey” tables out of ice, ski-ball lanes out of packed snow, put giant speakers into snowbanks and host a dance party, or drive a truck around all night giving out free chili. Winter Carnival is a magical time and it’s always a treat for us to be in town rather than traveling to races.

Week 3: Every month our student union (MUB Board) hosts cool events for students to participate in. Every year right around Valentines day they host “Stuff-a-Husky.” Given my love for wolf (or wolf-like) stuffed animals, it’s pretty amazing that this was the first year I was able to attend. After waiting in the longest line I have ever seen in Houghton (even longer than the one for The Hunger Games premier!) Carolyn and I finally received and stuffed our Huskies! Please welcome Adephagia (mine) and Thor (Carolyn’s) to the world.

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Keeping our Huskies warm

Wednesday the storm hit.

Our team was scheduled to race in the Twin Cities Friday Saturday and Sunday this week. Since I am still looking for an internship for the summer, my plan was to drive down a day early so that I could tour some civil engineering firms. The plan was to then meet up with the team when they got to the venue and proceed according to our itinerary for the rest of the weekend.

When I got home from school I already had two office tours set up for Thursday afternoon but had contacted an additional two companies as well. While I was making lunch I missed a call (for the second time) from one of the two companies I had been waiting to hear from. Quickly I finished eating so that I could call them back, but just as I was about to start dialing, my phone began ringing. I answered, and it was the second company I had been waiting to hear from. We found a time that worked for both of us and as I was saying goodbye, an email popped up from a third company asking for me to come interview with them the day before our Regional Competition in Marquette. Woah. With my head starting to spin in circles, I called Joe to ask his advice. There was zero way I would be able to interview Friday afternoon and be ready to race 7.5 hours away the next morning. I hung up with Joe and immediately emailed the company back asking if I could re-schedule for a different day earlier in the week. I then called the first company back to confirm a meeting time for their office tour. With driving home, four office tours, course preview and race prep; it was going to be a busy next 24 hours. 

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New Skis. Pristine Bases.

All of the office tours were super informative and although exhausting it was really good to see the different office dynamics back to back. It was also amazing to see how many people in the offices were very passionate about their work and truly loved their jobs.

I enjoyed visiting the offices, however it felt really good to put on the ski clothes and preview the course. This was the first chance I had to try my brand new (replacement) skis. Clipping onto a new pair of skis is always thrilling and this time was no different. They swooshed and glided effortlessly over the icy snow telling me, “if we’re this fast now, imagine how much faster we’ll be when the snow is soft and new.” These skis are going to be rockstars.

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Proud to wave our school flag after the 5k Skate Race

Friday we raced a 15k Classic Mass start and it was definitely better than the last Classic race I had here. It was a lot of fun to see Ulrika battling it out for the win throughout the entire race. My goal was to be able to watch her finish, but she pushed the lead group forcing the rest of us to break apart fighting to hang on.

Saturday the Twin Cities’ weather lived up to its reputation once more. It was barely legal to race due to the cold and wind even after the two hour delay. Thanks to some heated convincing by our region’s coaches, the race officials announced that the college athletes would race even if the citizens and junior’s races were canceled. I was excited to be racing at Wirth again, this trail compliments my strengths very nicely and with the lapped course it’s fun to see the people you are racing against. Our wax techs did another phenomenal job with our skis and with their help I was able to sneak into the lead and be named CCSA 5k FS Champion! That is a huge honor and I’m very proud to represent our school this way.

Friday’s Press Release

Saturday’s Press Release

Week 4: It’s Career Fair Week! Our teams (Cross Country, Nordic, Track and Field)  help Career Services host the Career Fair every spring and fall. This past Tuesday we hosted our largest Spring Career Fair on record. Due to being one of the fundraising chairs for the Nordic team, it is my responsibility to help organize our three teams as we set up, tear down, introduce the companies to our school and treat them like royalty during the event. This is a huge task, one that puts the three of us Lead Students up at the venue for 28 hours with only a short break to go home and sleep after set-up is complete.

 Career Fair Video (Interview starting at 0:20)

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Frantically playing catch-up

Being able to network with the companies while we bring them to their booths, show them our work-ethic first hand, and offer them any assistance they may need, is a wonderful advantage for our team as we begin searching for a career. It is a lot of work, but it’s worth it to hear how happy the recruiters are with their pool of applicants and their desire to return. This Career Fair was especially stressful since I was not only on-call for the event but also had to walk around handing out resumes hoping to receive interviews. At the end of the event I was very lucky to have two interviews scheduled for Wednesday. (That was more than I was expecting!)  I still hadn’t been able to complete my homework assignments that were now over-due, but homework assignments come everyday and job opportunities do not, so the homework was going to have to wait.

To top it all off, I also had three Midterm Exams this week. By Wednesday night I was ready for life to install a “pause” button so I could take a nap or exercise.

This weekend our team was invited to Marquette to do a time-trial style event against NMU and Green Bay. We will be racing at the same venue next week for Regionals, so getting a chance to preview the course again was really nice. It will be fun to head back there after a week of real training and adequate sleep for the final NCAA qualifiers.

Saturday’s Press Release

I have met a lot of really great people in the past month and am excited to meet more as the season continues and as I keep searching for summer employment. This is going to be a great week. Doom Clouds and Brain Supernovas can be pretty intimidating, but afterwards, with the weight of all that stress eliminated, it feels amazing to have survived.

“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

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.