So here we are, in April, me still blabbing on about ski-related topics, you still reading it. Or maybe you’re here looking for the photos. In either case, you’ll get plenty of both! This is one of those “look back on the season and reflect on the lessons I learned, the experiences I had” posts, but in (hopefully) less sappy form. This is a series, in no particular order, of high and low moments from the season. The punctuation marks in a long stretch of 25 races all over the globe.
So cue up your Green Day “Time of Your Life” soundtrack, and let’s begin! Oh shoot, I said it wasn’t going to be sappy and emotional. Scratch the music, then.
High: filming the Uptown Funk video. Some of it wasn’t glamorous, like when we were filming in the streets of Falun dressed head-to-toe in white spandex with pedestrians staring at us, usually with open-jawed wonder at our apparent lack of self-consciousness. One of the best parts was getting the coaches to lip-synch on the bus ride to Falun. Especially because the lines we gave them were “dance, jump on it. If you sexy, then flaunt it. If you freaky, then own it.” They did not get those lines by accident. Hey, if you’ve got to do intervals all summer long then you take your retribution when you can, amiright?
But some of it really did feel pretty glamorous, like when they played our video on the big screen at World Champs in front of thousands of people. And all those hallway dance lessons paid off big time. So I’ve basically been sitting next to my phone ever since, waiting for MTV to call and offer us a reality TV show deal. Eat your heart out, Kardashian family.
High: finish-line hugs from teammates. They have literally and figuratively picked me up from the ground when I needed a lift, and been there to share in the best, and worst, moments. If racing is the huge variable, they are the constant.
High: Northern lights in Finland. They were so beautiful! And I had never seen them so bright before.
Low: Getting there. It was 4 flights, 2.5 hours of driving, total travel time about 20 hours. Travel days are the worst, and this one was the worst of the worst.
High: Getting my name bib for the first year. This is a big deal to me because to get a name bib, you have to have finished the previous World Cup season in the top 30 overall, and that was one of my big goals.
Low: missing my family. High in that low: getting to Skype with them. But it’s not the same as getting to hug them and have them there in person!
Low: not having a wax truck. It’s not just a prestige thing (although, let’s be honest, they are pretty freaking cool.) It’s about state-of-the-art ventilation systems so we can feel better about NOT slowly poisoning our hard working, amazing wax techs. And not making them set up and build the wax room in every single venue to go to.
Low: travel days. Yes, this is in here twice.
High: Birthdays on the road. Any cause to celebrate, really!
High: Hotel bathroom haircuts. This may not sound like a high, but trust me, it is. It’s really fun and I’m getting pretty good at cutting boys hair! Not girls hair though. Let’s not even start with that.
Low…or is it a high? Having to go through duty free. You want to buy all the fun stuff, but the perfume section gives you a headache as you walk through it. And you always have to walk through it in the Euro airports.
High: getting to see new beautiful places, from a small-town perspective. Often, the places we go to race aren’t the super touristy sites, so we get to actually experience the true feel of a town!
High: Holiday poem exchange party. This is hilarious and embarrassing and hilarious BECAUSE it is embarrassing.
Low/High mix: the pre-race meeting: It’s a mix because it’s good to know all the details and plan for the race the next day, but the whole time I have nerves like butterflies in my stomach. Before the World Championship races, the butterflies morphed into large birds and they hurt with all that flapping around.
Low: unexpected injuries. Wait, that’s kind of a dumb thing to say…of course they’re unexpected! You never plan on getting hurt. One morning in Davos I woke up and literally could not bend my knee without a lot of pain, and I could barely walk. I had no idea why, and I still don’t to this day. But luckily Fred, one of our PT’s, fixed me up and in a few days I was totally back to normal. Injuries are so scary because in a career that’s based 100% off your body being in peak condition, it doesn’t take much to derail that. In general through I came through the season unscathed, but I can’t say the same for everyone on the team, and I’m impressed with how those people mentally battled through their injuries and came out swinging.
High: having a chance at greatness every single weekend. Every single race is a new opportunity to push yourself. And that’s really cool.
Low: ice tubs. But also a high, buzzy feeling afterwards…but yeah, getting into them is just a totally awful moment.
High: Having my family there for the holidays. Having spent 2 years of being separated from my family on major holidays, getting to hug them in person felt extra extra good!
Accidental Low: Hiding Simi and Sophie’s Christmas stockings. My parents had brought over Christmas stockings for all the ski team members staying in Davos, and I thought I’d be a sneaky little holiday elf and hide them as a surprise in their condo. Well….somehow, I got the wrong condo. So Simi and Sophie had to go on a treasure hunt the next morning after I’d been breaking, entering and trespassing in some stranger’s home the night before. Oops. Big oops.
Low: getting sick in the Tour de Ski. But this was also an accidental high, because it forced me to rest and afterwards, I bounced back so fast I’m convinced it’s the moment my season turned around and started climbing towards better and better races.
High: pre-race hair braiding. It’s 1.) practical and keeps your hair out of your face during the race 2.) gives you something to do when you’re nervous before a race and have time on your hands and 3.) it looks awesome, obviously.
Low: getting totally beat up. I know that I bruise easily, but things got out of hand after a string of unlucky falls mid-season. I also heal quickly even though the bruises stay, so it doesn’t affect my racing…it just looks bad.
High: seeing Liz do so well in the Tour de Ski, and then get her 2nd place podium finish in Russia! This has been a long time coming to an amazing teammate who works so hard for it and deserves every high five in the world. It was so inspiring to see her ski so well and to do it all with a smile.
High: Seiser Alm camp with Liz and Cork. More specifically, sledding at that camp with Liz and Cork.
High: the hours following the 10km skate race in Falun where I placed 2nd. Especially the hugs from teammates and coaches and wax techs as we all went through the stages of disbelief, believing it, and owning it. It was amazing to be with the team and celebrate our success together!
High: stealing Andy’s guitar throughout the winter. I didn’t travel with my little pink one this year, and regretted it, but Andy is a super nice guy and let me sneak off with his whenever I came knocking.
Low: Missing my SMST2 club teammates. We had such a good time over the summer, and it was weird to be separated from some of them for the whole winter! Luckily, Skype was there for us.
High: the fans. Seriously, these people who flock to the trails to come stand outside and cheer their hearts out for us make such a huge difference, and it makes racing exciting.
High: Glitter. Oh, the glitter! I love me some pre-race glitter. I think the photo below accurately sums up the euphoric feeling you get from putting on that shimmery stuff. All joking aside, the glitter is an important pre-race ritual for me, because it’s the moment where I step back from my race nerves, smile and remember that I’m allowed to have fun, that I do this because I like it. And that’s what allows me to race fast in the end.
This season was a mixed bag of good moments and some I’d be ok with not repeating, but overall there were many more highs than lows. I left the season psyched on life and racing, and ready to do it again! After a break, of course. Excuse me while I go climb into bed to sleep some more.