Finishing Strong

If your parents were anything like mine, then you were probably tossed into the deep end and had to learn how to swim from there. You could say that is what it felt like to jump on the World Cup circuit for the first time, spend 4 straight months in Europe (which is my longest streak yet), and travel across 10 different countries. I am going to admit, the first few weekends on the World Cup were really tough. I had some expectations and goals based off the end of last season, but I fell short of what I had hoped for—not just in results—but in my general form as well (unfortunately in part due to being injured the 5 months leading up to the season). Fortunately, just like your parents are there to help you learn how to swim, I was surrounded by teammates, coaches, family, and friends, who were there to support me and help show me the way.

Learning from others and by making mistakes, thankfully only in race prep (PC: Reese Brown).
Enjoying an evening walk through Lillehammer (PC: Jessie Diggins). 
Watching Sadie and Jessie CRUSH in the sprint final in Lillehammer! 
A stunningly beautiful walk and photo shoot with Jessie.
Ya know, just the average daily scene with this team 😉 Getting our team dance on in front of our amazing new wax truck! (PC: Reese Brown)
Davos WC - Extras - 12.11.17-2001
TEAM (PC: Reese Brown).
A definite highlight was seeing my family over Christmas and especially my sister, she can always put a smile on my face 🙂

As most of you know, it was a historic year for the cross-country team not only at the Olympics, but on the World Cup as well. I am lucky enough to call these athletes and coaches my team; they support me, push me, impart wisdom on me, and inspire me everyday to be better. The best part is that even though they are doing extraordinary things, they are still ordinary human beings who I can go on a walk with or play card games with. Although I did not get quite the results I hoped for in some of my World Cup starts, I took away as much as I could from my experiences and was happy with my upward trend so that the next time around, I am skiing (swimming) a little better.

Yup, that happened!
And this! Hailey Swirbul, my good friend and teammate making history by getting a Silver and Bronze Medal at World Junior Championships!
And also this! The junior boys got Silver in the Relay at World Junior Championships!
Ida charging in the city sprint in Dresden, Germany!
This was one of the most exciting World Cup atmospheres by far with large crowds! 
On a gorgeous ski with Sadie Bjornsen in Slovenia as she gives me some advice from her experiences.
Skiing with Sophie, Ida, and coach Matt in Austria on a perfect day!
Okay just to make you feel a little better, and show you life is not always sunny and dandy on the road, here is this one. Yup, you can only see max 8 feet in front of you. We just don’t document these days that often.


The season did not end after my World Cups though, it continued on with an unfortunate continuous plague of illness/es for 8 weeks (but lets just skip that part and fast forward to the good stuff). By the time March came rolling around, I finally found the race fitness I had been searching for and that is where the true fun began! Ironically, racing is more fun when you can really push your body to the limits and go deep into the pain cave and hurt badly. Our U.S. domestic team arrived in Spain for OPA Cup Finals and I was more eager than ever to race. After having many disappointing moments during the season, any chance to race healthy and feel good was an opportunity to race the way I believed I could. I finished off my 4 months in Europe with my strongest OPA Cup results yet, with a 3rd place in the sprint, and a 5th place overall in the mini tour, with 2nd fastest time of day in the pursuit!

3/6 women in our final in Spain were team USA…that was pretty cool.
Getting aggressive in the sprint heats. 
Girls squad, sunshine, and incredible skiing.
Skiing with my best friends Hannah and Lauren on a perfect day in Spain!
Charging through a blizzard with the 2nd fastest time to finish off OPA Finals in Spain (the days of sunshine made us a little soft at the end of Spain) (PC: Bryan Fish). 
Happy with a 5th place overall at OPA Finals (PC: Bryan Fish)!

I carried this good momentum right into our Super Tour Finals/U.S. Nationals in Craftsbury only a few days later to wrap up the season. I was really happy with how my sprint, 10km, and relay leg went so decided to go out with a bang by racing my first ever 30km to finish off the season! To my surprise, I had SO much fun racing the 30km and had a really good race (with no bonking or blowing up). Although most of my season did not go as planned, I am happy that I got my “bad days” out of the way and was able to finish off the season strong with 7 good races in a row, each one better than the last! I think one of the advantages of finishing the season off strong is that it leaves me even more motivated for next year. However, ending the season with 7 races in 12 days has left me ready for some serious rest and recovery before the training for next year begins.

39168718820_9c596f7c47_o 2
Sprinting next to my idol and Olympic gold medalist Kikkan Randall (PC: Reese Brown)
Game face on and in the pain cave for the club relay (PC: Reese Brown)!
Super Tour Finals - W30K - 3.27.18-1947
Jessie hugging me catching me at the finish of the 30km (PC: Reese Brown).
Super Tour Finals 2018 - Team Relay 3.25.18-1644
Psyched to reunited with all my teammates (PC: Reese Brown)!
So fun to ski with the next generation of skiers at Fast and Female.

Before rest….some skier cross racing. 


…and some spring skiing with my family on Easter.

You could call it a year of unpredicted adventures, a learning year, a wild rollercoaster ride—but most of all—a year that has left me wanting to race with the best more than ever! A huge thank you to everyone who has supported me, I couldn’t do it without you guys! Your belief, cheers, words of encouragement, and enthusiasm is what kept me going through the tough times this season and is why I love this sport and community so much, so thank you!

Super Tour Finals 2018 - Team Relay 3.25.18-9688 2
Looking forward to next year (PC: Reese Brown)!

Now it is time to give the body a rest and work out my brain for a bit 🙂

Looks like some boring homework, am I right? 

Published by juliakernski

U.S. Ski Team Cross Country Skier

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: