If you are at all part of the cross country ski community you probably are aware that this past week was historic for team USA at World Juniors/U23 Championships! You see the results and photos from the races and podium ceremonies….but what people don’t see are the TRUE HEROES who make all of these accomplishments possible! I wanted to dedicate this blog to the unsung heroes that work tirelessly behind the scenes to make our dreams as athletes possible (in no particular order).
COACHES: I wanted to start off with coaches because they are the ones who work with us day in and day out, from the hot summer days, to the cold rainy days, through the tears, through the laughs, and everything in between. Without a coach (or many coaches), whether it is a club coach, college coach, parent, or sibling, an athlete would be lost. I have been lucky enough to have had amazing coaches from day 1, starting with my grandparents taught me how to ski, to elementary school where my parents coached me, through high school with many incredible volunteer coaches on CSU, and now at SMS with the hardest working coach I could ask for. At a certain level, athletes have trained so much that they know what they need for training, but a coach is still needed to kick you in the butt when you need it, give you technique advice, and even help drive the van (much more important than you think)! This year at World Juniors, both the Junior and U23 coach not only coached and offered support, but they also helped the wax techs to make sure we have the fastest skis possible. And a huge shout out to Bryan Fish, the trip leaded and also U.S. Ski Team development coach for coaching all of the training camps that have devolved us skiers over the past few years. If I had to guess (because there are too many to count), Bryan has coached me at 15 camps at the minimum, and this only includes off-season camps!
WAX TECHS: These are usually the biggest unsung heroes. Our wax techs woke up at 4:30am each day, beating every nation out there, and sometimes even beating the employees at the hotel. Fast skis are a HUGE part of ski racing that is often forgotten. Our wax team this year did an incredible job putting us on some rocket skis and skis with awesome kick! One of the best feelings is cruising right by someone on the downhill and waving goodbye to them, knowing your wax techs put you on some kick ass skis. In the sprint on Monday, the leaders had a gap on me but I was so confident in my skis that I didn’t worry because I knew skis were going to cruise right back up to them on the downhill…and they did! Go techs!
TEAMATES: This is a huge one for me! I really don’t like training alone and I train so much better when there is someone by my side kicking my butt and pushing me to my limits. I have trained with the SMS Elite Team, the Dartmouth College team, and the U.S. Ski Team and it has been so fun to change up the training group and learn from so many different teammates. Teammates are also the ones who keep you entertained during those 4 hour workouts, pick you up when you are down, and the ones you share you favorite memories with. This past week was especially special for me because I got to stand on the podium with my best friends (but seriously, best friends…we call ourselves the four musketeers…no joke). Two years ago in Lake Placid, NY at a training camp, we were walking through town and were dreaming about being on the same relay team and reaching the podium together at World Juniors. We even bought matching socks in hopes that one day we could wear them together. A dream one day suddenly became a reality!
VOLUNTEERS: These races wouldn’t be possible without all of the volunteers who stand out in the cold and make sure these races are even possible! There is a lot of work that goes into holding a race; you need fences, V boards, a groomed track, timers, technique officials, bib and chip distributors/collectors, and the list goes on. So thank you to all of the volunteers who came out this week and made such an incredible race week happen!
FAMILY: It was so cool to have World Juniors in our home country because almost everyone’s parents were able to make it out to watch! Without a supportive family, skiing is incredibly hard to do. I was super stoked to have both my parents out for the whole week and my sister, her boyfriend and friend for the weekend! I am fortunate to have such a loving and supportive family. It is so cool to have them out there cheering for me and there to celebrate with me after!
SUPPORT SYSTEM: This category includes clubs, colleges, sponsors, and most of all NNF! Having a support system to help offset the costs of skiing is very important because skiing is an expensive sport! Thanks to L.L. Bean and Craft, we looked sharp in our uniforms and all of the countries wanted to trade with us. Last but not least, the National Nordic Foundation! NNF supports all of the development camps that makes us fast skiers and helps offset the costs of trips like these. NNF even broadcasted World Juniors this year and anyone can see them on their website! I have been amazed at what NNF has done to continue the momentum of U.S. skiing and it wouldn’t be possible without all of the supporters who donate to NNF every year!
As you can see, success takes a TEAM…and this is only the beginning! We as team USA put out historic results with the first ever individual and team relay podium in the history of US skiing at World Juniors and we had many top 10s and top 20s! It is really cool to be part of this movement and I am over the moon happy to have been part of such an incredible team this year!
More thoughts on this past week to come but first a little recovery!