It’s been quite a week on the move! In the past 9 days I have managed to squeeze in a lot of last minute details before kicking off the season. I flew home to Minnesota last week with two days to complete the finishing touches for a fundraiser that I had been planning since JULY. The event was at Gear West last Thursday night and it was a huge success! The entire staff at the store was so incredible for helping out with an evening full of fresh snow, running, eating a lot, listening to my presentation, and raising money via silent auction items. HOWEVER, I am feeling especially grateful for all of the extra hard work Gear West employee, Jenny Beckman, put into preparing for the event and of course the store owner, Jan Guenther, for making it all happen. Growing up in the Twin Cities I was always able to rely on Gear West Ski and Bike Shop for anything I needed skiing related: new skis, boots, ski grind, clothing, athletic encouragement… The shop did a great job in making me feel like I was back at home and I was humbled by the support shown from the community.
During the event, I was able to share my history as an athlete starting from a Wayzata High School student, into college, and now into this new and focused life that I am so proud of. Friends and family were able to bid on auction items such as a Birkie weekend cabin, Birkie parking pass and wave boost, Rossignol skis, Swix poles, US Ski Team gear, an assortment of gift baskets, and so much more! All the while sipping on some delicious Barley John’s Brewery beer and munching on snacks provided by Gore Wear. Gore Wear is an athletic clothing company primarily creating bike gear but has recently launched its very own Cross Country Ski line. The company was a huge reason for my fundraiser’s success and it was so nice to partner up with them for the evening. By the end of the night we had raised a total $4,785 in silent auction items and numerous donations. As if I couldn’t feel the love from just that, Gear West and Gore Wear were generous enough to match up to $1,000 in these donations as well! All of these donations will be put toward my season to help me fund plane tickets, hotel rooms, food and ski/wax support for racing all over the world. Thank you to everyone who came out for the event, for all of the donations and for the confidence boost in believing that this is all worth it :)
After an exciting evening, I was delighted to drive up to Hayward, Wisconsin to spend a relaxing weekend at my family’s cabin. Overnight, it happened to snow just enough on the Birkie trails that we were able to break out the old rock skis and go for a fun ski. There’s nothing quite like the excitement of the first big snowfall of the year to get you motivated for the season. It was so nice to spend such a calm weekend in the woods with my family and finally be home to celebrate my sister’s birthday! (Since I’ve missed it the last four years). My sister has always been my biggest role model in life and is the reason I started ski racing in middle school; I wanted to be just like her. Not only is she in the middle of her second year at P.A. School, she’s also training her butt off for the California International Marathon on December 2nd in the hopes of qualifying for the Olympic Trails. She somehow manages to balance it all with so much more grace than I will ever be able to achieve. That being said, it was great to spend the weekend with her in the hopes of all that hard work rubbing off on me!
After that it was a rush to get things ready for a big road trip out west. On Wednesday night I left The Cities with my parents and drove into Bozeman, Montana. I am planning to spend Thanksgiving week with my parents and a few thousand other skiers at the West Yellowstone Ski Festival. My parents have made this into a fun family vacation ever since I was in 6th grade but for the past four years I had been training with my college team in Quebec, Canada and missed the festival. Over the years the size of this family trip has dwindled as each sibling heads off to college. We’ve kept it a fun group though by inviting friends to tag along and teammates from the Wayzata High School team to get some great early season skiing in. This year though, it will just be my parents and me. Who can ski more hours: my dad or me? We will see...
This first day of skiing was one of those days where you look around and realize how much you love this sport. Warm sun, beautiful views and super fun trails make you never want to end your ski. It was a perfect day! Unfortunately, with every peak there comes a valley and the very next day there was freezing rain while I was skiing in town. This was one of those days where you question why you're doing this and what's the point? Do I really have to be out here training in such awful weather? But these days separate the weak from the strong and I knew it was something I'd just have to grit my teeth and get through. I thought this was similar to racing; you might have a fabulous race one day and think you're totally unstoppable only to follow that up with a horrible day where you just can't quite find your groove. Another reason why you have to face the highs and lows of whatever you're doing with the same determination and will to succeed no matter what the outcome.
For the past month we’ve been waking up in Stratton about twice a week to find a little surprise in the morning, SNOW! The temperatures are dropping and we’re beginning to bundle up for our early morning workouts which can only mean one thing; the ski season is fast approaching! It’s crazy to think back on those initial training sessions with the SMS team back in June. Five months ago, I was getting dropped during most workouts and knew I had my work cut out for me for the summer. Those hot, humid, sticky months looked daunting to me at the time as I knew I would be training outside of my comfort zone. Yet, somehow those months just flew by and now we’re all heading our separate ways.
For the last few weeks we’ve been bringing back the volume in our training and really starting to ramp up our intensity. One of the biggest changes for me is that I slowly stopped working as much. I needed to work over the summer and fall so I could save up a little bit for the winter race season, but I knew that this was taking a toll on my training. Once I stopped working I started having a lot more energy in my workouts and really felt like I had the ability to step into that next gear of training. Also, the lack of working has helped with my recovery from training and I think it could not have come at a better time.
It’s bittersweet to say goodbye to these teammates who have now become great friends. Most of the team is traveling directly over to Europe to start the World Cup season in just a few weeks. I am so proud of all of my teammates- for some, this will be their first time racing multiple world cup races in a row. It inspires me to hopefully one day join them and reach more of my goals, but for now I am heading out west to kick off the season with Julia, Katharine and Kyle in West Yellowstone.
Before I try to find snow though, I am making a quick stop at home in Minnesota for a fundraiser that I have been working on for a few months now. Gear West Ski and Bike Shop has been generous enough to support me with this and has agreed to match up to $1,000 in donations. The event will take place on Thursday, November 8that 5:30pm at Gear West and will include a run from the store, a presentation, silent auction, as well as food and beverages provided by Gore Tex and beer provided by Barley John’s Brewery! With this partnership, Gore Tex has also agreed to match up to $1,000 made from auction items. Some of these items include Birkie weekend cabin, Birkie start pass and wave boost, Rossi skis and gear, Swix poles and gear, Tailwind Nutrition Products, and a variety of other gift baskets. It’s been really great working with the entire Gear West crew and I am excited for a fun evening with Midwest skiers.
I am also looking forward to spending some time at my cabin on the Birkie trails. I grew up going to my cabin whenever I had a free weekend and have a lot of childhood memories from there. Since leaving for college four years ago I haven’t had the same opportunities to spend time there and I’ve realized how much I’ve missed it, along with having so much quality time with my friends and family. As sad as it is for me to say goodbye to Vermont for a few months, I am looking forward to heading home and then finding snow!