Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Casts and Swells of Ski Racing

I just finished a book about lighthouses, storms and ocean waves… so it is hard to not think about the reference when I look back on this last period of racing and think about the casts and swells of waves. These past three weeks I have been on a "Scandinavian Tour." Following a little training period in France three weeks ago, I started my final push of racing in Europe for the season. With lots of travel, lots of racing, and not a whole lot of rest… this was one of the more challenging periods. 
Enjoying the amazing Holmenkollen scene!
Taking some time to get to know some amazing people fighting against the cancer battle.
Jessie and I living out of the sauna... dreaming of my closet at home :)
This season has been longer and more intense than in the past. Having completed my first Tour de Ski, and starting all but four World Cup races this season, I have had to keep my brain "focused to fight" far more than ever before. It is incredible the amount of focus that it takes to race 40 times in four months… and be at your absolute, absolute best! Inevitably, things are going to swing a little bit. I realized pretty quickly this past period that letting your brain sleep for just one second throws you off track pretty quickly. 

Doing some ski testing in Stockholm with my amazing and silly tech, JP. (Erik B photo)
Always a crazy transition to be sprinting on snow in the middle of the streets! Stockholm was a really neat experience!

Back in school means back to the life of going straight from the trail to studying!
With a variety of challenges faced including challenging snow, challenging conditions, challenging skis, and challenging courses- I have had a huge sway and cast of belief in these past three weeks. In the course of three days I can go from feeling on top of the world to missing out on qualifying on a sprint course that would generally be one of my greatest strengths. The second your train goes "off track", it is hard to believe how easy it is to continue on the path of destruction. Your confidence becomes rattled, your belief gets punched in the face, and you start to question everything. With some ups and downs in my racing these past three weeks, it has been so fun to learn how to "ride the casts and swells"... and keep my train going in my own direction. Sometimes I feel like I am learning a new lesson every day on this journey! 


As an athlete, you are judged on your "success" on the daily. You either perform, or you don't. What went wrong and what went right never shows up on a result sheet… and frankly doesn't really matter at the end of the day. Maybe your closest followers will watch a video and see you crashed during a sprint. Or maybe your wax tech will know that your skis weren't perfect that day. And maybe your coach will see that that extra set of intervals that week took the little edge off of you… but the result sheet doesn't show that. Therefore, as an athlete you have to get darn good at finding your own silver lining. You have to absorb the emotions of not only yourself, but all the others around you. As part of a team, some of your teammates are going to be standing on the podium weekend after weekend… some are going to be scoring their very first World Cup points, and some are going to be disappointed beyond belief. Through all these emotions, expectations, pressure, and feelings…. you have to sort out your own path. To me, this has meant finding my sliver lining.

A fun little reminder (Jennie Bender inspired).
Soph and I lost a bowling bet... so we had to wear our racing attire to dinner one night.
So, I am going for it! I am on a plane right now, headed back to the states. With a short five day break in Vermont at one of my friends house, I am going to rest my brain and body a bit and come back for redemption for this Tour de Canada. With eight races in eleven days spanning from Quebec, all the way over to Canmore, Alberta… it is going to take an enormous amount of energy and focus! I couldn't be more excited to have some World Cup racing on our side of the ocean, and to be able to share this unique and amazing experience with friends and family. 

Packing my bag to head back to North America
A lot of luggage, a lot of skis, and a lot of waxing equipment means an expensive trip back overseas!
Here is the schedule of races for anyone that wants to follow. There should be the usual broadcasting on Universal Sports as well as on www.crosscountryski.us

March 1- Gatineau Skate Sprint
March 2- Montreal 13k Classic Mass Start
March 4- Quebec City Skate Sprint
March 5- Quebec City 10K Pursuit Start Skate
March 8- Canmore Classic Sprint
March 9- Canmore 15k Skiathlon
March 11- Canmore 10k Skate
March 12- Canmore 10k Classic Pursuit Start

Let's get this Canadian Tour party started! Welcome to North America World Cup racers!

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