April 8, 2015

Season Done!

I am a Western girl at heart. I love the sun, the dry air, the altitude, all of it. Anytime I get a chance to race in the West, I am a happy camper. As I hit the open road to Sun Valley, I was ecstatic to meet up with my APU teammates who I hadn't seen since the beginning of January, my coach,  and other friends. I also had some high expectations as I hoped to win the Overall SuperTour in order to get start rights for the fall World Cups. Everything was perfect, the sun was strong, the temperatures warm, the altitude high, I was feeling strong skiing and then BAM, I woke up in the middle of the night before the first race with a sore throat and a fever. How could I have possibly gotten sick again? Knowing I had to race to win the Overall, I threw my things in my bag and headed to the race venue anyhow. As I skied around warming up, I felt absolutely horrible. I tried to tell myself I was fine, but it just wasn't working, the fever was winning. I tucked my tail between my legs and went home without racing. At that point, the future looked really bleak. I thought my season was over, I would loose the Overall and feel thoroughly unfulfilled despite an otherwise exceptional season. After I spent a good number of hours in bed watching TV and feeling sorry for myself, I had a sudden change of heart. It was time to sack up, get tough, and race. It turns out I wasn't the only one fighting something. Sickness was rampant throughout the entire field. I guess that's a sign of a long hard season, and some really tired skiers...

Take 2. I packed up the next day, headed to the venue ready to race. I felt terrible, but somehow skied a very good qualifying round for the sprint. Ok, maybe things are going to turn out alright after all. I warmed up for the rounds, still feeling miserable. I lined up for the heats and do what I always do, charge from the start. However, I didn't have any pop, no top speed, and could barely breath with a stuffed up head and the tail ends of a fever. I got destroyed in the finish, limping across the line 3rd in my heat and missing the lucky loser position. Well, the mind is powerful, but it's not possible to tough everything out. I should have considered the situation, made a better plan, and race like a seasoned racer, not a first timer. bummer.

I set myself backwards in the process of trying to race. I felt absolutely miserable the day after the race. I started questioning myself, wondering if it was going to be possible to race again. I sat out the team relay, which was not my idea of fun. I LOVE the relay and I have a lot of APU pride. Luckily, our team is so amazing, we managed to place 1st and 2nd and  I was able to be out there cheering and skiing the tracks in as a freak snow storm hit, a small consolation.

I read an article about Lindsey Vonn winning the SuperG World Cup Overall that day.  She was the last to start and the one girl she had to beat to win the globe had just put down a fast time and had taken the lead so as she was standing in the start gate, she knew she had to win to get the Super G Overall.

“I love these situations. You know, it honestly makes the choice very easy. When I knew that Anna was in the lead I said ‘OK, I either win or I go home’ and so I tried my best and I really risked a lot. Of course these titles mean everything to me but at the same time I just love racing. I love being in the position that I was in today, under high pressure and having to come through,” said Vonn. “I love that stuff. It’s what makes ski racing exciting, and it’s what makes me motivated to keep pushing myself and keep coming back for more."

I realized then that I had strayed from what had made the rest of the season so successful. I was terribly focused on winning the overall and not focused on the racing itself. I, too, love racing and I love racing under pressure. I always have and that is what has kept me going, the love of racing, the love of putting yourself out there and testing yourself. So, I pulled myself together, reminded myself why I was doing this and lined up for that 30k with focus I even surprised myself with.  It was the most brutal race I have ever done. We raced at noon, it was really hot and the snow was the slowest snow I have ever encountered. We were at 7500 feet and we had to do 6 laps of a 5km course. The snow was so slow, we couldn't tuck any parts of the course so we literally had to ski all 30km. Luckily, I have some great teammates and we skied together all 30km, Sadie, Chelsea, and I, working together and getting things done. We had been dropped by two girls, but were holding tough as a chase pack. I cramped up worse than I ever had, but I just kept my eyes on my teammates and pushed on. We had a "sprint" into the finish, a very slow motion sprint and Sadie sped away taking the bronze, I nabbed 4th, and Chelsea came in 5th. 

It was enough to win the SuperTour Overall! Despite feeling beyond bad, it was truly a perfect way to end the season. 

It is never easy trying to sum up 5 months of ski racing, but I think that 30k did it perfectly. There are a lot of uncontrollable things that come your way and I learned the way to be successful despite any misfortune is to keep a strong head, keep your friends close by, and act with heart. 

Thanks Steve Fuller at Flying Point Road Photography for these exceptional shots. Check out flyingpointroad.com for more shots from Spring Series and World Championships!
Nothing beats a friend at the finish! Feeling dead after the 30km

APU goes 1, 2 in the Relay!!!!!!

APU also won the APU cup, again, meaning we are the best club in the country!!!!

Start of the 30k