After a much needed spring break out west, I feel like I’ve had one of my best starts to the new year of training. Realizing what makes me truly happy while skiing and chasing athletic goals has allowed me to prioritize the specific opportunities that the lifestyle presents, which also make me smile the most. That being said, I kick-started my spring training in the mountains, surrounded by sun, snow and some of my best friends!
I returned to Bend, OR in early May. I spent my summers in college training in Bend with the Bend Endurance Academy and have the fondest memories of training and working hard there, while having the absolute MOST fun! This is exactly the type of atmosphere I am trying to channel this year so when a group of my girlfriends proposed the idea of an ‘active work vacation’ in Bend, I didn’t hesitate!
We spent the mornings driving up to Mt. Bachelor to ski, mountain biking on the local trails, or running up to beautiful waterfalls. We would return back to our Airbnb to crank out hours of work, looking up to crack jokes with each other or offer to make another pot of coffee. We had the goal of being done with work around 4 so we had plenty of time for afternoon activities too. Sitting amongst these ladies I found myself inspired to broaden my horizon and think about what else I could really accomplish in life while I’m training as a skier.
I overheard Zoe Snow make badass work calls as she led her team as a project manager. Zoe is one of the initial employees of an extremely successful startup company, Trusst - an app that provides affordable and effective mental health care to adults right from their phone. Meanwhile, Taryn Hunt-Smith was across the room ferociously writing down her thoughts and life story while she applied to med school. Not only a genius, but a rockstar mountain runner for Salomon who can scramble up and over rocks like a mountain goat. Sitting next to me on the couch was Abby Drach, doodling with intent on her iPad as she worked on the next product launch for her own business that she just started this past spring, Indura Athletic. Abby is a local Minnesota skier who brought her creative talents to a sewing machine last summer making cute, athletic face masks. Quickly becoming a sensation over Etsy and filling orders across the world, Abby decided to follow her true passion with clothes and launched her women’s athletic clothing line just a few months ago. Indura fits all shapes and sizes and makes a woman feel empowered in her own body by the way Abby designs the apparel. Always cute and always comfy, Indura Athletic collides functionality with self-empowerment. I absolutely adore everything Abby has created so far and know she's just getting started!
As I saw these women work fiercely around me, I pondered at the idea of stepping up my own game. I’ve been working for a startup company, LandTrust, for two years now, but I feel like I haven’t really been fulfilling my potential. Yes, I’ve been trying to be laser-focused with my ski career and prioritize recovery between training sessions, but I also know that I am the type of person who thrives with balance in my life. These ladies have inspired me to raise the bar as I continue to chase my ski dreams, but also prepare for life after skiing (whenever that may be) and reincorporate other types of goals into my life.
After working hard all day, the ladies and I would find ways to get outside again in the afternoon. We frequently found ourselves wandering around town and landing a spot at one of the many renowned Bend breweries, ordering pizzas or tacos and enjoying time with other friends who were in town.
I was so sad when it came time for my friends to fly back home, but they left me feeling energetic and ready to go. This soft approach to training and playing outside slowly ignited the fire inside me and I spent the next few days incorporating more structured training into my routine. Soon enough, my SMS T2 teammates arrived in town for us to join the national team training camp for a few weeks of on-snow training. Junior and elite skiers from all over the country trickled into Bend for this camp so I immediately found myself surrounded by more friends. The big volume days of training seemed to fly by as we all chattered for hours skiing in outstanding spring conditions at Mt. Bachelor. Many of us hadn’t seen each other in over a year due to the pandemic, or if we had, we socially distanced and were unable to really spend quality time with each other. It seemed as though everyone couldn’t stop smiling about the fact that we were all back together, fully vaccinated and having fun once again!
I continued to spend my afternoons working from the couch or kitchen table, attempting to achieve maximum recovery while simultaneously completing work projects. I was staying in a condo with my teammates Bill, Ian and Will, and we spent our evenings either watching basketball games or making our way through Marvel movies. Again, everyone seemed to be much more relaxed and playful than we had last year. We felt safer, more confident and optimistic in the future, and excited for the potential we all had for the next year.
I decided to leave Bend camp a few days early as I had been there for 3.5 weeks and had a VERY long drive to make my way back east. Luckily, I had the perfect pitstop in the middle visiting my family in the Midwest. Spending a weekend at our cabin in Northern Wisconsin I got my lake fix in. We spent hours fishing and kayaking, reading and puzzling, cooking and eating, and ending our days with bonfires or movies. This type of peaceful getaway with my family is another aspect to my life that brings balance. I value my family so much and my mom and sister are two of my best friends. Without being able to easily see them last year unless I quarantined on either side of a trip, I felt like a piece of my world was missing just a little bit. Not anymore!
We returned to the Twin Cities for a whirlwind week. With temperatures reaching a high of 97 degrees most days, I got my training done early in the morning, frequently meeting up with more friends to get a social hour or two in simultaneously. My sister and her husband just bought a house so we spent the hot hours of the afternoon moving furniture and boxes across the city, ending the day with summer BBQ’s. Attempting to get ALL of the work done, make ALL of the appointments, see ALL of the people and do ALL of the activities, I was pooped by the end of the week. Just the way I wanted to feel! I packed up my car one last time and drove east with a heavily caffeinated, very full heart.
Having returned to Stratton, Vermont just one week ago, I feel like I have finally found that balance in my life that I was seeking all of last year, but was never really able to find. If you had asked me mid-April if I was excited for the upcoming year, I would have said no. If you had asked me mid-May if I was ready to get back to Vermont for training, I would have said no. However, during my drive from Minnesota to Vermont, I felt butterflies in my stomach once again. As I drove up and over the rolling, lush green mountains of New England, I felt like the state of Vermont was giving me a welcome-back hug. And I felt very, VERY ready to be back. :)
Professional skier, traveling the world, exploring the culture, racing my heart out.