December 9, 2014

When Everything Works

I have raced at Bohart a number of times and every time I left feeling some sense of despair, like things just didn't go the way I hoped. As result, I dreaded racing there. This year was no exception as we rolled up to the venue the day before the race to find more of an ice skating rink than a ski course, something of a nightmare to me. We waited and let the sun do it's job, warming the tracks, only they went from ice to slop in a matter of minutes, another dreaded snow condition. As I skied around the course, I felt great and I quickly realized that I have put hours and hours of skiing and training in these conditions (thanks Eagle Glacier) and it was actually completely and totally fine, everything was fine. I was feeling incredibly fit and I was going to race no matter the conditions and I was going to have good skis because we have awesome, hard working techs and everything was going to work out.

Upon arriving the morning of the race, the conditions were back to being more on the icy side, but something that was manageable so I strapped on my skis and I just went. I found rhythm, I found speed and power, I was focused, my skis kicked up the hill, flew down the hill and everything went well. I won the qualifier, which I believe was my first time doing so. That was a big boost to me, but also painted a lovely target right on my back for each every sprint round raced, making the my nerves on the high side. I was really confident in my fitness however, I just let myself go and become immersed in my own skiing each round, finding some hidden power I didn't know was in there and advancing to the final with relative ease. Last week, I used the same strategy and then failed in final so I will say, I was unsure if this was the right strategy to be taking. As I lined up for the final, I thought I just felt too good to not try again so off I went, focused on making each stride as powerful and strong as possible until I made it to the high point of the course where I glanced back to see I had a gap. I focused then on skiing smooth and relaxed all the way back to the stadium where I had the chance to really enjoy a sprint race victory.

As soon as I finished, I felt the anxiety for the next day's race, a mass start 10km on a course full of challenging downhills, my absolute least favorite thing! We got to the race the next morning to find some more terrifying ice. I became so worried about just making it around the course, I didn't even think about how I was going to ski, where I was going to make a move or anything, all I wanted to do was survive. Now, this seems a little silly and definitely a little dramatic, but at the time it truly felt that way and I was more than a little consumed. The race started and off I went, skiing with trepidation across the icy tracks. My teammate Chelsea took charge and really just took off. I wasn't sure if she was just finding her groove or if she was going for the win from the gun. I wasn't sure if I wanted to try to catch up to her or just continue trying to survive. Luckily, I know Chelsea, I know her strengths, and I have a rather competitive side in me and my mind took over, caught up to her, and I began to focus on the race itself. Of course, there still had to be a winner, ice or no ice, of course I still needed to finish the race, and of course I am experienced enough to make the best of the situation. Chelsea is a great downhill skier and was smoking me on every downhill. She also happens to be really fit and a great uphill skier. Shoot, how on earth am I going to try to win this race? As we finished the first lap, we had a sizable gap and the field and I had to figure out quickly, how I was going to put my best effort forward. While there are a number of climbs on the course, I felt most of them were quite gradual and given the ice, quite fast meaning I could actually double pole most of the them, ah ha, my mind was still with me and I had my plan. When the course flattens out, go like hell and hope for the best. I went and I got a gap into the long and treacherous downhill section, but I wasn't sure it was enough. I had to conquer my fears of downhills and at least try to not to loose everything, but also try not to fall. I lost time on the downhill for sure, but I also made it to the stadium alone, where I could safely double pole across the line for my second win of the weekend!

As I reflect on the weekend, of course, I am happy to have won, but more importantly, I am really happy with the strength of my mind. There were a number of less than ideal things happening, but they were happening to everyone, they were uncontrollable, and they day had to go on. I was able to find positive focus on the things within my control and amazingly everything worked out. And really when it comes down to it, who can complain about racing when it's 40 and bluebird? Not this western girl. So finally, I won against Bohart!

Teammies, o how I love them!

10km Podium

Racing up the big hill in the sprint final

Sprint Final

Sprint Victory