Nothing like a little spring break to rejuvenate the ski soul and lift spirits! After a challenging year (for everyone, for so many reasons) and a mentally tough ski season, I knew that this spring was extremely important for me. It was necessary for me to take a step back from ski racing and enjoy what was right in front of me.
There was no particular moment in the last year that I found myself overly stressed or devastated about the ski season. With so much going on in the world, it was hard to put that first in my mind. Rather, in 2020 I focused on the variables that I could control to create a safe space around me. I believe that this worked really well and I was never in a position to feel concerned about exposure, etc. What I didn’t realize during this process, was how much I was isolating myself. I had my SMS teammates around for most of the summer and fall; we had a great season of training together! However, I also spent so much time in quarantine due to my travel schedule and the rigid guidelines set in place by the state of Vermont. I did my best to follow all of the restrictions as closely as possible, but was bummed to miss out on the small opportunities throughout the year to see other friends and family.
This ‘safe space’ that I created for myself paved a path for me to race the World Cup for a few weeks mid-Winter, which I was so grateful for! It also left me alone a lot, feeling unhappy and confused about the season as a whole and questioning what I wanted out of skiing. I didn’t realize how much of a build up there had been during the year until I was able to make it home for the last races of the season. Racing around my friends and family, experiencing the pure joy of the sport during the Birkie, feeling the enthusiasm reverberate off the Midwest skiers around me… that’s what I had been missing all year. With the wrap-up of the season, I realized I needed to make the most of the upcoming spring break I had and wanted to spend as much time as possible around my friends, in the sunshine and mountains, exploring outside purely for the fun and excitement about it. So, that’s exactly what I did!
I kicked things off by getting a Covid vaccine, then hopped in the car with my dad and drove down to Colorado to visit family. For the next six weeks, CO served as a home base as I saw various friends and family in the area, all of whom had already been vaccinated.
Before I left the Midwest, I stopped by Gear West Ski & Bike shop, where they were able to assist in getting me a Rossignol backcountry ski setup that I could also use at the resort. I spent my days either downhill skiing with family or adventuring in the backcountry with friends (always in safe places with a beacon, probe and avalanche expert in the group).
My friend, Lina Sutro, and I took a trip to Moab, UT where we met up with some other friends for camping, mountain biking, skiing and running. This was my first trip to Moab and the only regret I have is that the trip wasn’t long enough! We had a packed, long weekend of activities, spending the entire time outdoors and in great company!
After Moab, I returned to Colorado for more time in the mountains, hitting the last few runs of spring skiing and seeing more friends and family. My happy tank was filling up!
With all of these activities and social interactions, which felt quite foreign to me for the first few weeks, I also needed to schedule in some downtime. Luckily, the part-time, remote job that I’ve been working at for awhile now, forced me to sit down at a kitchen table as well. If I went skiing in the morning, I’d spend the afternoon on my computer. Otherwise, I’d wake up early and crank out as much work as possible over a cup of coffee (or two) and then hit the mountains during peak sunshine hours in the afternoon. Working for a startup company has been interesting at times and chaotic at others. Overall, it’s provided a great place for me to focus some of my brain energy when I’m not ski training/racing and I’m really happy that I’m able to balance both.
After a month of letting gravity do all of the work for me on the chairlift, I started feeling ready to do some of the climbing myself again. I slowly began feeling excited to throw more running into my routine. The hiking up mountains on skin skis didn’t feel like as much work anymore, instead I was just enjoying the idea of working a bit to earn my turns. I finally called my coach, having not talked to him in over a month and a half. We had a great debrief about the previous season and started talking about goals for the upcoming year. All of those questions I had been asking myself back in February were suddenly out the window and I knew I wanted more skiing in my life. I reflected with my coach about how much I require balance in my life. I need to see other friends and family aside from teammates all year, otherwise I’ll lose that ski spirit that fires me up for races!
Never before have I needed such a break from cross country skiing. However, now that I’ve had my time away, I’m feeling refueled and ready to get after this new year of ski training! Asking myself, 'why do I ski?' I now know how to answer that. One reason is because I just absolutely love the sport. Another reason is because I'm an extremely competitive person who thrives off of hard work and setting goals. What I recently came to realize though, is that I ski because I love the people, experiences, traveling and challenges that all come with the sport. My goal for this next year is to get back into a rhythm where I get to incorporate all of these aspects into my daily life so that I can be the happiest and best version of myself.
Time to train!!
Professional skier, traveling the world, exploring the culture, racing my heart out.