Inspiration is defined as “the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something”. In sports, we often find inspiration in amazing performances, successful accomplishments, aim at a big goal, a teammate’s breakthrough, or something else. I have always found inspiration easily, as I have been surrounded by amazing teammates doing amazing things. At the completion of this past Olympic quadrennial, I found myself searching for inspiration. Having completed my best ever season, ranked sixth in the world, and four individual podiums, I would have expected that was enough to get me super inspired this spring.
Since being a young kid, I have always been one to be terrified of change. I like when things work as planned, as scheduled, and as expected. I got my undergrad degree in accounting, because I love knowing a process. Numbers should add up, and a job should be done. Once I find a routine that works, I don't love to change it. These past four years, I have done an exceptional job of “doing last year”, but a bit better. I have been living in Anchorage, going to school, surrounded by amazing teammates, and chipping away at my plan. Each year I add one more layer of challenge, skill and strength, and I have accomplished new and improved levels!
At the start of this new training season, lots of change took place with the National Team. Four of my amazing teammates retired, one of my best and closest training buddies didn't get renamed to the team, and a slew of new young boys and girls got named. There was also a change in coaching roles, with the previous "women's coach", Matt Whitcomb, changing to "world cup coach", meaning he will now be coaching both the men's and women's team. In addition, for the first time ever, I didn't have an "end goal", not really knowing where I wanted to aim with my ski racing. Do I go to the next Olympics, or do I take one year at a time? All this unknown, and change kind of left me searching for inspiration to get the new training season going.
These past two weeks I have been down in Bend, Oregon for our annual National Team "spring camp". This is a camp where we spend the mornings on skis up at Mt. Bachelor, and the afternoons doing any sort of dry land activity we see fit. Running, biking, swimming, roller skiing, hiking, surfing the river wave, skipping through the woods taking selfless… whatever you want! In the days leading into this camp, I almost feared the "change", not really knowing what to expect. From the minute I stepped foot in Bend, I was pleasantly surprised with my immediate shift in feelings.
I found myself questioning why have I always been so afraid of change? Change means something new, something different, and something refreshing. Surrounded by a slew of new young athletes, and a collection of extremely successful veterans, I felt overwhelmed by the buzz of excitement. In a ball full of anticipation, experience, and enthusiasm, the group vibe took off! With a new group comes new roles, and new experiences. I found myself unbelievably inspired by the young athletes of our team with no fear! Suddenly I felt totally charged, and excited to take on this new quadrennial. While the past one may have been a little more "planned", I am so excited to take on this new one with less of a plan, and more spontaneous energy! That is not to say I don't have goals and aspirations. Those still exist, but for the first time, I am heading into this next step in my career with my mind wide open, and I am totally inspired by that. We are all inspired by different things, and sometimes strange things. What I have found is that surrounding myself in a collection of exceptionally strong individuals has often led to dreaming bigger and faster! Thank god for teams and teammates.
What I have realized this spring is sometimes it takes stepping backwards, and looking from a new angle to find your inspiration. I can't wait to see what this new group is going to accomplish together in our new roles and new places. I can already see these young new members of our team are fearless in every way, which is going to challenge the older generation to do things bigger and better! The United States has already become a force to be reckoned with, but what is next? It is time to keep working hard, and find out!
A massive thank you to Mt. Bachelor and the Bend community for an amazing camp! While the snow was scarce, we were still able to do some amazing training these past two weeks!
I am now back in Alaska for a week of dry land training before heading up for our first week of glacier training on Eagle Glacier. Speaking of change, we have some new members at APU, which will also provide a fun new change to summer training!