The Waiting Game
So far this ski season has included a lot of “hurry up and wait.” Last month, I was bummed to find out that Covid was causing more obstacles in an already turbulent season. For understandable safety concerns, the US Ski Team decided not to fill all of their start spots for the Tour de Ski world cup races. I was feeling quite defeated, but I decided to make the most of the situation and head home to spend Christmas with my family.
I was hesitant about unnecessary travel, but ultimately, I realized that my head and heart needed the time at home if I wanted to keep chasing goals the rest of the winter. Spending mornings reading my book next to the fireplace (waiting for my brother to wake up), afternoons skiing with my family on the Birkebeiner trails and evenings cooking up a storm with my mom and sister in the kitchen… one week at home was just what I needed.
With the time at home to lick my wounds, I returned back to Vermont feeling energized and ready to set my eyes on some new goals. That is, after I did a week-long quarantine in southern Vermont and then got a negative covid test. A week before Christmas, Stratton, VT got hit with a snowstorm resulting in 42 inches of fresh snow, a record snowfall for the state of Vermont! However, mother nature wasn’t feeling great and decided to follow that up with 2 inches of rain over Christmas. By the time I made it back to Vermont, it was looking grim.
I did the best I could to stay positive and hope for more snow in the forecast. I adjusted training so that I could ski up the access road on Stratton Mountain before the lifts opened at 9 am. I also went on a few runs and hikes and did more strength at home. I knew in the back of my mind that there was a possibility I could qualify for period 3 of world cup races in Europe, but the decision wasn’t supposed to be made until January 4th. There wasn’t much I could do besides try to train and wait around for that decision.
January 4th came around and I busied myself with work and yoga. I tuned into a virtual Maine high school practice and worked with junior skiers on drills and goal setting. I even made more cookies with the cats! My thought was that I had two options... Plan A: qualify for period 3 world cups, train in VT for a few more weeks and then fly to Europe. Plan B: not qualify for races, pack my belongings into my car and drive west in search of sun, snow and mountains to enjoy for the rest of the winter! Towards the end of the day, I finally got a call from my coach. He said, “don’t pack your bags just yet.” Which essentially meant that nothing had been decided for world cups but don’t start your ski-cation. More waiting....
To be completely honest, I was feeling extremely frustrated about the situation. I had already done a whole lot of waiting! Sadly, there was nothing I could do about the situation except take a deep breath and move forward with training. By this point, I had finished my quarantine and was able to travel up to Craftsbury, VT where my male teammates had been training over the holidays. Seeing my teammates and coach again after a few weeks apart put a smile back on my face! There was more consistent snow up north, so I was able to jump into hard training right away.
On the easy days, I occupied myself by meeting up with an ex-UVM Catamount teammate, Mk Cirelli. We went skiing at the Trapp Family Lodge, which is where the UVM team did most training waaaay back in the day. ;) It was really special to be back there with Mk and it brought back so many great college memories. It was also a beautiful day that reminded me just how much I love this sport, despite the challenges and obstacles it brings.
It's funny how much some sun, fun skiing, and seeing a friend can boost you back into a better mood. I really feel like my ski with Mk was just what my ski soul needed and I started feeling more positive about my situation.
Sure enough, the following day was when the postponed decisions were meant to be finalized. Again, I busied myself with more work, some yoga, laundry... by dinnertime I received another phone call from my coach. This time, a much happier one! It was official that I had been nominated as the COC Leader for the US. (COC leader spot is for the top ranked domestic skier, not including anyone already racing world cups). After weeks of waiting and beginning to think that there wouldn't be much of a race season for me at all, I let out a big sigh of relief.
I am so SO excited to be heading to Europe in just a few days! I will be over there for three weeks, racing in Finland and Sweden. I can't wait to be reunited with my female SMS teammates who have been there for a few months now. In the meantime, I will spend this last week doing a few more hard workouts and preparing to travel. I will also be packing plenty of local coffee, peanut butter and Vermont Maple Sriracha to add to the potatoes that I know we will have for breakfast, lunch and dinner in Finland.
After watching my teammates CRUSH the Tour de Ski, I am feeling very inspired to head over there loaded with positive energy! I was so impressed watching my teammates bury themselves in these races, day after day. I am so proud of Jessie and the team for believing in themselves and daring to chase those big, scary goals.
I would like to include one final thought: Covid has thrown obstacles into all of our lives. I know that I could blog only about the beautiful skiing I get to do and places I get to go, which I really am grateful for. However, I believe sharing the positive moments AND the challenges that cross country skiers face is important in order to depict a realistic outlook on what life as a skier looks like for me. As always, thank you for the continuous support, it's time to race!
Professional skier, traveling the world, exploring the culture, racing my heart out.