A few weeks ago, I was presented an opportunity to give back to the Midwest ski community that has provided so much for me over the years. The Central Cross Country (CXC) team asked me if I would be willing to join the Central Regional Elite Group (REG) camp in Ironwood, MI. The camp brings together some of the top junior/high school athletes in the Midwest for a week of hard training and testing. CXC wanted me to act as a mentor athlete/coach for these skiers and I decided this would be a great opportunity to get back to my roots for a few weeks.
I was able to travel home a few days before the camp started to spend the 4th of July with some friends and family. It's been a tradition that my mom and a bunch of her friends spend the 4th on Madeline Island in Lake Superior. When I was in high school, my sister and I joined her for these weekend getaways, but it had been a few years since I got to tag along. I was very excited to get back to this tradition and spend 3 days on the island with some incredible women who have been major role models throughout my whole life!
On the island, I went for a few runs while my mom and aunt biked along side of me. We enjoyed yoga by the water and did lots of swimming/floating in chilly Lake Superior! (Nothing feels better after a long run in the heat than a jump into the lake).
After a few days on island time and a solid mental and physical reset, I traveled over to the upper peninsula of Michigan to join 22 junior skiers for the REG Camp as well as 24 U14 kids for “Dream Camp.” The first few days I mostly spent with the REG athletes and completed an uphill run test, skate agility test and double pole time trial on roller skis. It was so awesome to see all of these juniors bring their A game to these tests even though it was pretty hot and humid.
We were then able to take a few days to recover from all of this intensity and fill it in with some easy distance skiing. During this time, I gave a presentation to the athletes about my journey as a skier and some of the lessons I’ve learned over the years. I also had the opportunity to jump in with the Dream Camp for some foot drills, agility, and fun sprinting games. I feel like throughout the week I was really able to get to know a lot of the athletes at camp and I encouraged them to ask me questions. I wanted to be there for them as a sounding board about some big life decisions they were soon going to have to make. I tried to find the right balance of leading by example, while also making sure the athletes all understand that I was sitting exactly where they were just a few years ago...
We finished off the week with an interval session, more swimming in Lake Superior and an over distance workout. The enthusiasm from all of the athletes at REG and Dream Camp was so great to see and it really inspired me to continue to seek out opportunities to connect with the ski community, especially the next generation. I am excited to announce an open roller ski clinic and presentation that I am hosting in Minneapolis with Gear West Ski and Bike Shop. The event will be Thursday, August 8th, 6-8pm at the Theodore Wirth Trailhead. I will chat about the various transitions of my ski career and the important role that my family has played in supporting me at every level along the way. I am hoping that junior skiers will be able to attend this event along with their parents so that we can discuss the dynamic of supporting each other through some extremely important points in a skier’s life, whether as a part of the Minnesota High School League, Junior Nationals, competing at the NCAA level or at the professional level. Hope to see you there!