It seems as though Corona quarantine has been a crazy time for everyone! With an abrupt end to the ski season in mid-March and a rush to get to a safe place, I found myself back in Minnesota staying with my parents for the time being. I feel very fortunate that this novel virus only impacted the very end of my racing season; spring and summer athletes have had their entire season canceled and I feel bad for them. Although I was really looking forward to ending my season with the MN World Cup and World Cup Finals in Canmore, I am grateful for the opportunity I had all season to compete domestically and on the World Cup.
I am so grateful to be home and in a safe/healthy environment right now. I know that many people do not have such a protected space. I understand that this has been challenging for everyone to go through, but I have tried my best to stay positive and make the most of the extra time at home. I have been spending such quality time with my family, I always miss them during the training and competition season, so this has been the silver lining. My mom, sister and I love to cook so we’ve been eating very well these past few weeks. It has been really nice to go for walks with my mom and bike rides with my dad when the weather is nice. Early in April though, if it’s rainy or windy outside, I allow myself to take the break from training and just hang out inside. I’ve been slowly making my way through the Handmaid’s Tale TV series and am wrapping up reading the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy which has been entertaining. I have also been spending my free time studying for the GRE (am I the only one who forgot what the equation of a circle is? Haven’t used that since middle school!) and re-learning how to play the piano.
Overall, this surprise turn-of-events has been rather challenging for me. I am a planner and like to know what is happening the following week, month… I’ve had to accept that this is simply impossible to do right now. I also love spending April with my friends that I don’t get to see during the Winter and it’s been hard to be so close to them in the Twin Cities, yet unable to see them. In addition, my dad is an infectious disease doctor in Minneapolis and I see the stress and anxiety that our health-care workers are under. The best way I have found to deal with this is to greet my dad with a smile and a home-cooked meal each night, go for short trail runs with him to help him stay happy and healthy, and continue to support him in any way I can. (I've been making him immunity boost shots that we often take during the ski season. This probably wouldn't do anything to help him fight Covid if he were to get sick, but it's something small that I can do right now that hopefully helps at least a little bit).
During my free time, I have also been helping with yardwork/outdoor projects around the house. We’ve expanded our vegetable garden, relocated and planted numerous trees, and cleared the way for future projects to help us feel like nature is near even while in suburbia! Last week included earth day and after working so hard on these projects I felt motivated to do something about earth day. I have seen, first-hand, how climate change has affected glacial meltdowns in Alaska, city pollution destroying air quality in cities like Almaty, Kazakhstan and Beijing, China, and completely change winter sports while skiing in what are supposed to be “ cold and snowy places.”
While traveling in Almaty for the 2015 Junior World Championships I was astonished to see the air pollution in the city. What was ironic, was that the hotel we stayed at had a donation box to help children in the city with asthma, a very common problem in that area of the world. Why do you think?!? While traveling and ski racing in Almaty and Beijing, my teammates and I wore masks to protect our own lungs from the pollution. We saw many of the citizens of these cities doing the same, it was normal for them. To live everyday of your life with a mask over your face to protect your own well-being, I couldn’t believe it! Personally, I was appalled with these living conditions and it really affected my mood, happiness, mental preparation, and ski racing performance.
I left Almaty and Beijing, sick, coughing up black gunk, and exhausted. These experiences inspired me to do something about it. This last week, I challenged myself to turn my earth day into an earth week and prohibited myself from driving anywhere or from eating any meat. Driving cars produces carbon emissions that destroy our ozone layer and increases the average temperature/overall climate of the earth. Eating meat requires a demand for slaughtered animals that are being raised solely for the purpose of killing immediately for consumers. These animals (such as cows) eat grass, metabolize it, and release methane as a byproduct. Methane is a common factor for affecting our ozone layer. My family grew up eating meat, and aside from a random 36 hours that I decided to be a vegetarian when I was 9 years old, I've never really thought twice about it. However, I recognize that by cutting back on my meat consumption, and maybe inspiring a few people around me to do the same, we might be able to limit the demand for methane-producing meat and live a more sustainable life.
Not driving or eating meat for a week will hardly make a difference in our global state, but I do think that I can find a way to continue changing my own habits and affect the people around me. Going forward, I plan to devote 2-3 days a week to finding alternative protein sources. I also hope to find alternative transportation services, whether that means biking to and from the places I need to go or carpooling, I will be able to cut down on the carbon emissions that I produce. Hopefully, my actions will influence my friends and family to do something similar and to tell their friends and families about these challenges. Maybe we can make a difference together? So far, I have convinced my parent’s household and my sister’s household to start composting; a sustainable option for some of our waste and a benefit to our gardens. :)
Here are a few things that I learned/realized during my earth week in the middle of quarantine:
The lucky thing about being an endurance athlete is that we can pretty much train whenever and wherever we are (as long as restrictions for exercise outdoors remain the same). With an abrupt end to the ski season, I feel fully rejuvenated physically and without much else I can do in the world right now I am happy to get out the door. As of right now, I am enjoying getting back into running, biking and roller skiing with my family until further notice. I am motivated and hope to return to work with my teammates in Stratton, Vermont once it is safe to do so!
Professional skier, traveling the world, exploring the culture, racing my heart out.