1. Comfortable 2. Confident 3. Gritty

*Photos can be found on my Facebook, the internet will not let me upload photos to my blog.

Comfortable, confident and gritty were my three cue words for World Juniors this year. Last year was my first time going to world juniors and I was so overwhelmed and intimidated. This year I went in with the mindset that I belonged there as much as anyone else and it worked.

  1. Comfortable: physically relaxed and free from constraint.

It is hard to hop onto a plane, fly over the Atlantic Ocean, and then live in a country where you have never been before. Being from the U.S, we normally ski at the same race venues over and over again. We are used to the same food and language all around us, so you can imagine it being very different to be in a country where it is hard for anyone to understand you and it is hard to be understood. I am fortunate enough to have built up experience being in Europe from past trips and having most of my family live in Germany, but it still gets tough. This year I saw many familiar faces and reunited with friends, making it feel like just another race weekend at home. Being comfortable took away one stress from race week.

  1. Confident: a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.

It can be incredibly intimidating when you show up at World Juniors and you see other nations with wax trucks with their faces printed on them, endless amount of coaches, wax techs and trainers. On top of that, they are always matching, whether they are training or eating meals and they have endless amount of skis. However, these little details aren’t what decide who skis the fastest, but it does give them confidence that they belong there. I came in with confidence this year, believing I can put up some strong results. As my mom always tells me, “you have to have some swagger and believe you can beat these girls!” My mom is completely right; you have to “fake it until you make it”. If I don’t have the mindset that I can beat these girls, then I will never be able to beat them.

  1. Gritty: having or showing a lot of courage and determination.

How badly do you want it? That is what grit is all about. When the going gets tough, I just remind myself to be gritty and really dig deep. Every race I go as hard as I can, but there is always that room for going beyond your limits and pushing from pure determination and will, and this is the kind of grit I am talking about! This is what sets an incredible race apart from a good race, a winner from a looser, and a fighter from a person who gives up. At a race like World Juniors, the competition is tight and if you don’t give 100%, you will see it in the results.

On the topic of results, I had two top 20’s (16th and 18th) in the individual races and our relay team got 8th. On the relay day, I was the scramble leg (first leg) on a narrow course. I was really excited to crush the relay since it is one of my favorite races and distances. I unfortunately got tangled and fell, but hey, that happens in skiing! Thankfully, my teammates crushed their legs and we ended up 8th! I have now arrived in Germany and we are in Arber, Germany for the next week, racing OPA (Europe) Cups! I am excited to be in my home country and be welcomed by a white winter.

-JKern

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