Since the start of the World Cup Season, on November 26th, things have been pretty darn exciting for the US Nordic Ski Team! Every weekend brings a highlight of joy with some new outstanding performances, new personal bests, another podium, another historical moment, etc., etc…. It has been, and will continue to be a wild ride, so you have to hold on tight with two hands, because it just keeps getting better! During interviews recently, the most common question is, “what is the magic”. I have the same answer every time. Suddenly, every single person on this team has some true belief. With so much success, nobody wants to sit on the bench. Everyone is just itching for their turn, “put ME in coach!” You can see it, the fight is on, and it is no longer one person that thinks they can win; it is every single person. The belief is contagious, and the fight is the new way. Despite it seeming so, it isn’t magic. It is just a lot of people working hard, and most importantly, embracing the little steps along the way!
As we head into the Olympics, I am trying to take some time to step back and truly “feel” this experience. It is an experience that is going so fast, and I am just clinging on tight, trying to live up every single second of it. Whether I am happy or disappointed with my own races during the weekend, there is always somebody to be happy for along the way. Between the race weekends, my sole goal is to recover, and be ready for the next weekend. The weekdays become projects, and parts of the puzzle I am putting together for each weekend. With such a specific goal every weekend, I think it is easy to lose track of this life, and feel all the emotions that come along. For that reason, I have been trying to work on embracing all the little things. Whether that is an emotion, or an experience… I have realized how important it is to not just numb myself to all the up, down’s, and arounds that are going on. Instead, take the extra breath, and feel the experience before it passes by. Some of these things include:
1. Staying in touch with the outside World.
Skyping with my nephew, Carter.
2. Finishing my first Tour de Ski healthy.
You can tell by the color of our faces…. this climb is no joke, and any time you make it to the top alive, and healthy, is an enormous achievement in itself. It was a personal goal of mine to make it there top ten, so I was ecstatic to cross the line in ninth!
3. Watching my brother make an enormous jump.
He is a little bigger now, but he still has that same look of determination! This guy raced to ninth this weekend, and that is just the beginning! I can’t wait for him to discover he is one of the best in the world! The men on our team often get overshadowed by the women, but there is no lack of success and motivation with these guys! They are headed to PyeongChang with an awesome vibe, and ready to attack!
4. Laughing about how much we have grown up.
Four years ago, we arrived in Sochi, feeling like we had landed in heaven! I have no doubt when we arrive in Pyeong Chang, Sophie will have the same look on her face, and Jessie will have the same pop in her step, and Liz will have the same tune to her giggle. We may look a little older, and hopefully act a little older, but we are the same young women, with a big dream!
5. Watching my teammates from back home do really well.
It is really exciting to see ten members of our APU Team make the Olympic Team! That is a huge step for our program, and says a lot about the hard work going on up in Alaska. Not only that, it speaks highly of Erik Flora, who has been inspiring, encouraging, and pushing so many of us. I feel more than lucky to have discovered this program eight years ago, and truly found my place! I am also extra excited to see some young members of our team start to break through. This may be a high for our team at the moment, but by no means is it the highest point to come! Here is Hannah Halverson, the youngest member of our women’s team, standing on the Nationals podium! What an incredible achievement as a nineteen year old! She also got eighth in World Juniors yesterday, one of the best results USA has ever had!
6. Spend some moments with my fiancé.
I am a lucky girl to have this guy on my side! Not only is he unbelievably supportive and encouraging, but he is a huge goof ball that always manages to remind me to laugh and smile!
7. Accumulating enough Gruyére podium cheese to feed an army of Frenchmen. I believe we have won thirteen blocks of cheese, which means thirteen podiums this year!
Fondou for days!
8. Ski through the mountains, and take some time to look around.
Jo often makes fun of me for going out to train, and never stopping to look around. We have been racing at some pretty incredible venues lately… and I can’t get enough of it!
9. Celebrate some birthdays, and feel thankful that our parents gave us life.
One of my favorite birthday’s to celebrate is Liz’s, because it always lands just after the Tour de Ski… so we often have a case of the tired giggles…. and nothing makes an experience more fun than laughing until your core hurts.
10. Stand inside the waxing truck, and watch the wax team work together, with so much passion and excitement. These are the guys behind the scenes… truly performing the magic, without ever getting to stand on the podium for their success at being some of the best waxers in the world.
Sometimes I wish we could bring our wax technicians up on the podium with us… but then it would get pretty busy, because these boys work as a team! They deserve at least 50% of the credit, because we wouldn’t be able to do it without them. Even if they don’t step up on the podium, they still celebrate podiums, and never take for granted a day they manage to out wax the rest of the world.
11. Feel nervous. We never want to admit we are nervous, but the endorphin rush is one of the greatest high’s in life!
What are those words you say in your head just as you get ready to start?
12. Getting the first podium in a classic race in US Women’s Cross Country Skiing history.
My first time in the leaders chair for MANY years after achieving a long time goal of mine, a podium in a classic race.
13. Make my first A-final in a skate sprint.
First step! (Rolf Zetterberg photo)
14. Be a team. Unfortunately, Ida Sargent fell on Saturday during her warm up for the sprint, and broke her thumb. To watch her pull her emotions together, and prepare her brain to keep fighting despite the need to fly home to Vail for a quick surgery, and be back at the Olympics in two weeks was incredible. What it made me realize is how important the people surrounding you are. This is something that could have easily derailed any athlete that was heading to the games with a big goal. Through the encouragement and support of this team, she has managed to stay positive and keep believing. It is amazing how positive energy can make any bump in the road nothing but a little time in the air on the way to the finish line.
This is a team that has supportive each other through MANY years!
We have now arrived at our final few days before jumping on an airplane to head to my second Olympic Games. Speaking of embracing the little things, I am pretty darn excited to pull on my stars and stripes uniform to represent my country for a second time! Despite having raced in the Olympics before, the buzz is just as high and exciting! This time around, I am headed there with a goal, and that is amazing in itself! First, I dreamed of being an Olympian, now I dream of winning an Olympic Medal! Let’s see what we can do!
I will try to update my blog throughout the games, so check back! Cheers to the final preparation, and let the TEAM USA pride begin!
Baby Carter is ready! Are you?