Over and Out

Another season, another winter on the road, another year of committing my life towards this sport and this goal of mine. I have been racing on the World Cup full time now for six years, which means I have been to the same race venues as many as seven or eight times.  Hard to believe that time has gone by so fast, but I guess that is a sure sign I am having fun!

 One of the things that I have learned “with age” is that despite the fact that I have become a regular on the World Cup tour, I can never become an expert. The courses change, the snow changes, the competitors change, the equipment and waxing change. As a result, just when I think I have figured something out, there is something new coming my way. That is the challenge of it all, and quite frankly, the fuel behind the fire.

I think of being an athlete as being an entrepreneur or a business owner. You create a mission, set out your own steps to accomplish that goal, and you work towards it. Even if your business was crushing last year, it doesn’t give you a free pass to crush this year. Your homework is never over; you are simply building on yesterday. As a skier, I have used every step of success as money in my brain bank. While it doesn’t guarantee I will reach that level again, it DOES guarantee that I have the tools to chase it.

Using my tools to chase. (Nordic Focus photo)

Using my tools to chase. (Nordic Focus photo)

 Cross-country skiing has transformed over the past couple of years. As the snow has become more variable, and our equipment more finely tuned, there becomes more details of the sport. Waxing has become more challenging and impactful, technique has transformed, and it feels like general fitness of the field simply increases. Just when I thought I had become one of the strongest double polers in the world, the Russian women took it one step further. Just when I thought I had figured out being the quickest off the line, there is someone quicker. Just when I thought I had mastered my free skating, some young Swedish girl goes flying right by me. The world just keeps getting better, the goal just keeps becoming higher, and the job just keeps going.  Just when I think I have grabbed that bar, it gets raised! That is both the beauty and the thorn of “the challenge”, and the job I get to do. I am an entrepreneur of my sport, on a mission to be better than the best.

GIving my all (Nordic Focus photo)

GIving my all (Nordic Focus photo)

Every winter we put our homework to the test. We race weekend after weekend, measuring ourselves up against the rest, using each race as money in our brain bank. As with most, this season brought a collection of goods and bads. For the first time ever, I put my full attention towards the championship event. I have always been one to enjoy the thrill of quite literally racing until I can’t any more. I don’t really like to focus on one specific set of races, I like to just aim and shoot as fast as I can, performing as best to my ability all season long. For that reason, I have gotten really good at having consistent racing throughout the winter. It has never really allowed me to peak at one event, but it has allowed me to enjoy the heck out of just trying 100 times. This winter, I decided it was time to try something new, and put some focus to the madness.

The focus face. (Nordic Focus photo)

The focus face. (Nordic Focus photo)

 Despite the fact that my focus at Championships didn’t produce the medal I was aiming for, I was proud of the way I approached it, attempted it, and didn’t let myself get too disappointed when I fell short of my goal. I am a student after all, and with every short fall, there is always a lesson to learn for the next attempt. I am walking away from this season proud of many new accomplishments and improvements I made. Sometimes that means putting things in perspective. I am competing against “the best in the world” after all, no padding or peaches with that level! But, as with any entrepreneur, my mind is already set on the next bar, the next level, and what is next!

Lucky to be surrounded by this incredible group of women on my mission. (Nordic Focus photo)

Lucky to be surrounded by this incredible group of women on my mission. (Nordic Focus photo)

 I can guarantee the level of this sport will be one step higher next winter! I am excited to challenge myself every day this summer, and mentally and physically prepare myself to be one of the best of the best. That bar just keeps rising, and despite the fact that I have been chasing it full time for six years now, I am still just as excited to keep gunning full force at it.

Enjoying every moment of finishing my winter on “usa soil” in my blue APU suit. (Reese Brown photo)

Enjoying every moment of finishing my winter on “usa soil” in my blue APU suit. (Reese Brown photo)

 But first, a few weeks of rest and recovery. I demand a lot of my mind and muscles all summer, fall and winter. Part of getting better is making sure I take the time to turn off, and reset. So I am off to spend some time with my family and some sunshine. Thank you to everyone who was part of cheering, supporting and pushing me through this season!

Making time to get one crust cruise in before I head off for the spring.

Making time to get one crust cruise in before I head off for the spring.