These past few months, I have taken a small break from my blog, as I have channeled and focused all my efforts and thoughts towards preparing for the start of the season. The last time I checked in was before our final US Ski Team Camp in Park City. A week before heading down to the Lower-48 for the final altitude and high volume training block with my teammates, my previously troublesome heel spurs flared up. I have had a history of dealing with these heel spurs, and recently spent the first few months of this summer’s training avoiding classic skiing in order to get them under control following our spring Bend Camp. Unfortunately, the problem returned.
Trying to remain positive, I dove into my “shoeless challenge” of ski erg, slipper spin biking, and swimming. Spending weeks outside of ski boots and shoes, I spent the past two months attempting to control the inflammation while simultaneously trying to figure out why it was happening. With the help of my coach, Erik Flora, and my physical therapist, Zuzana Rodgers, we mapped out a different preparation route than normal, which didn’t involve a whole lot of days with ski boots on.
Every athlete has stress and anxiety leading into the season. We spend four winter months racing head to head against one another, each weekend fighting to be the best. The routine of racing somehow becomes normal. Although we are nervous for every race, we still fall asleep the night before, and we often carry a certain amount of confidence based on how we have been performing. Then, the summer months come along, and we spend eight months away from the racing scene, training incredibly hard, rarely feeling sharp or speedy. As a result, we come into the season with a big question mark. It’s like we start back at ground zero in the confidence department. No matter how you raced the season before, you always have a hint of question, and maybe even fear.
Even more so than ever, I suffered a case of "question” this season. Although I have had my fair share of injury and diverse training in the past, I have never fought through it the months leading into the season. Not only that, I was in a place that I wasn’t sure if I would even be able to start the season. Fortunately I have an incredible team on my side. I have a coach that reminds me every day that “training is training”, and remains unbelievably positive and encouraging. I have a physical therapist that not only treats my heels, but also helps with the mental part. I have a team that breeds encouragement and confidence. And I have amazing family and group of friends keeping my spirits high!
During my final week, I got a chance to say goodbye to many of my friends and sponsors. During a goodbye party that Delta Constructors had put on for me, I was talking to one of the owners of the company. When he asked me how I was feeling leading into the season, I told him my story, and how I was on the verge of frustration levels. He started talking about his company and how with everything in life, there are bone spurs. You will always run into issues, and have to find creative and constructive ways to get around them and remain successful. It was an awesome “real life” reminder.
We have just completed our first World Cup weekend of the season, in Kuusamo, Finland. In my past, this has been one of my favorite race venues. I often feel rested and sharp, which has allowed me to fall in love with the hills there. With race day only being my third time on classic skis in two months, it wasn’t my usual, poppy and confident feeling on my skis. Not only that, I had more nerves than ever before. But, I survived, and was happy with “the start”. Fortunately we have a four-month season, so I have some time to get my gears shifting, and ready to rally.
After two months of wonder, most importantly, I am so excited to be here racing! Racing is the best part of what we do! Testing your mind and body, seeing how fast you can move on your skis.. it is a pretty fun art! It definitely makes it worth walking around in heelless slippers all day!
We are currently traveling to Norway, our next stop on the World Cup Circuit, for a three day mini tour. Norway has always been one of my favorite places to race, so I look forward to the weekend to come!
Race Schedule for the winter is: