27 days in a row. That’s the longest consecutive amount of time I’ve spent in Minnesota in two years! And ya, you betcha it’s been a good time! I despise it when people make lame excuses for not getting a blog post up in forever…but hey, listen to MY lame excuse, right?!? I’m currently in Bend, Oregon at our first US Team training camp of the year, and I’ve been skiing my brains out. No really, I’m getting so tired that I’m getting dumber. Just last night I got out of the shower and started getting dressed before I realized I still had soap in my hair. Yikes. All joking aside, it’s been an extremely fun and productive camp so far, and I’ll be telling you all about it soon! But first, I want to fill you in on my precious last weeks in my home state.
I use the words “home state” pretty loosely, since I’m actually a turtle and my home is in my suitcase. But I still consider Minnesota home since that’s where I spent most of my life. Sometimes it can feel a little tiring, always on the move from one place to the next. But 90% of the time I think it’s the best. It forces me to live with a sense of urgency, because I actually don’t have all the time in the world to do all the things I want to do before packing up and moving on. So where I might otherwise wait to call up a friend to go rock climbing, or sit out on a swing dancing lesson because I can do it next week…I just jump right in there and go for it, because that’s the only way it’ll happen! It’s a little added incentive for me to see more, do more, meet more people while I’m in the state. And boy did I ever get my social time on!
This is the really fun part of my job, the part where I finally get to give something back to the people and the communities that have supported me on my journey. I receive so much love and support (monetary, emotional, huggable and high-five-able) from all over the United States and especially my home state, and it makes all the difference. The support I get from you all is crucial in getting me not just to the Olympics, but to training camps, out the door to go training each and every day, through grueling workouts and long sessions. So now I get to give back!
I remember when I was a junior skier and got to meet one of my sports idols, Kikkan Randall, for the first time. She was handing out medals and signing posters at the Junior Nationals in Anchorage, Alaska, and I was there competing as a J1 (under-18 years old) racer. I waited in line to meet Kikkan and right before it was my turn she ran out of posters. I scrounged around and came up with a tattered piece of cardboard box, and begged her to sign it. She smiled and signed it and it meant the world to me that I’d met one of my sports heroes – I was on cloud 9. Later that week she hung a medal around my neck and told me good racing, great job, and I was most likely speechless. I took the cardboard home and hung it on my wall. 6 years later, I got to race with Kikkan as her teammate at the 2013 World Championships and we won the team sprint together. I never hung up the medal. It’s in a drawer in my basement somewhere. I never look at it. Guess what’s still hanging up on my wall? My signed cardboard scrap from Kikkan. I see it every day. For me, meeting and making a connection with someone that inspires me is so much more powerful than any result I’ll ever get. And maybe I’m nuts and simply don’t understand the value of semi-precious metals shaped like a FIS snowflake, but maybe there’s junior skiers out there that just want the same thing I wanted – a chance to meet a skier on the US team and make a connection.
So here’s the stats! This April and part of May, I did 10 events total – visits to schools, ski clubs, poster signings. I met a total of around 1,870 people, of which about 1,500 were kids. I handed out crazy amounts of Salomon posters and got so many high fives and hugs I think I collected one for every day that I’ll be on the road in Europe! I loved getting to meet so many cool people, hear their stories about how they started skiing and I especially loved it when junior skiers shared their goals – how they were training to try and make the school varsity team, the MN state meet, get on the Junior National team, or how they want to make the Olympics in 4 years. And you know what? I truly believe that they will. I’m pretty sure that this spring, I met a couple of my future US Ski Team teammates. Maybe in 6 years I’ll be teaming up with one of them for a team sprint…who knows? I can only hope that I inspired at least one skier the way that my teammates inspired me.
Rollerski season is back again! Thanks to Finn Sisu hooking me up with brand-spanking-new skis, I’m all ready to roll! I’m not getting crazy ski-specific with my training yet, however…spring is the time to mix in lots of fun activities. I did a lot of fun hiking and running in the parks with my family – two of my favorites are Afton State Park and Willow River State Park.
I was finally home to see one of my little sister’s productions! She is a great actress and loves musicals, and lucky for me she was doing 19 productions of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” while I was home. It was so good I saw it twice!
One of my favorite nights was at the Lake Elmo Park shelter, where we had an open house to celebrate the season. I got to thank the community filled with volunteer coaches and parents who helped me ski as part of the Stillwater High School team. They even retired my ski suit – the one I raced in for the Ponies from 7th-12th grade! Move over, basketball players…I have a retired jersey now, too!
Right before it was time for me to leave, I did a lot of yard work with my parents. I love gardening, and I helped my Dad put up the fencing around the raised vegetable garden we built. Then I helped my Mom plant all kinds of seeds – carrots, lettuce, beets, kale, snap peas, pumpkins, squash and tomatoes. Yum! I also saw my spirit animal, a chipmunk, hanging around, which I’m taking as a really good sign to kick off a new training year.