January 19, 2017

Solo Camp

I am a full believer in teams. My college team, my club team, and the U.S. Ski Team have all played invaluable roles in my life. I also believe that the stronger and more individual each person on the team can be, the stronger and more creative the team will be as a whole. The U.S. Ski Team is unique because we spend close to every day together over the winter competition season. This, in some ways allows our team to be stronger because we are forced to learn to get along through thick and thin. In other ways, I think it threatens us because it allows us to become complacent.

I chose to travel solo after the Tour de Ski to recover and get a full break from the World Cup circus. It was a little cheaper to travel elsewhere and the place that was planned didn't have snow so my boyfriend slowly talked me into this solo adventure. I was fortunate to pick a place where winter had arrived, leaving me with hundreds of kilometers of skiing and lots of time to reflect. I very quickly realized that the team has much more influence on me than I realized. Of course, this is how I learn as well. I follow those that are better than me, try to pick up on new things my teammates are working on, etc. But, I also think at times it leaves me doing what’s easiest and not always what’s best. When every morning you wake up alone and must decide what to do that day, it makes you think of what would be best for YOU and what makes YOU happy, instead of well this is on my plan, but Jessie’s doing this and Sophie’s doing this, so maybe I should change my plan. Other days, you might feel tired and be skiing really slowly and then a coach is out there with a video camera so you speed up because you suddenly feel like you are being watched or judged. Confidence is key to success and being susceptible to that kind of thinking is no way to build confidence. It took me having a week alone to fully realize how much I had fallen into this trap. I have to imagine I am not the only one to do so either.

I now believe strongly that taking time to be alone, even if just for one session from time to time will ultimately make our team stronger. It allows time for everyone to truly do what’s best for them, to do what makes them happy, to think about what they are doing and why, to be creative and to try new things without anyone holding judgement. Then, when we come back together, we are refreshed, we have new ideas, we have confidence in what we are doing, and all of us are ready to reach higher together.

I had a fantastic week, skiing on some beautiful trails with snow falling everyday. I went on a hike through a gorge, a night time sledding adventure, and an evening backcountry ski to dinner. I even found out I had friends in the area. Traveling alone was not nearly the trauma I had once imagined and is now something I think I will incorporate into every season. 

It's back to the World Cup now! Ulricehamn, Sweden will host this weekends events and this is a new venue for the World Cup! 

The trail, right outside my door!

Hiking in the gorge

First ski after a few days of rest from the tour

When you decide to start hiking a little late and then get summit fever and have to go to the top....starting my sled down in the nearly dark without my light

Best skiing I've had in a long time
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New snow everyday
Seefeld, Austria