The past week at home has been so incredibly good for me, and so incredibly busy, that I have only just stopped to catch my breath…in Beitostolen, Norway! The team flew here today, and it’s so great to have everyone here, ready to spend the next 5 months traveling and racing our way around Europe.
Whenever I go home, I always settle into the most comfortable version of myself. I sit slumped over my coffee at the kitchen counter every morning, my posture so bad it’d make the strength coach cry. I lay on the living room floor with the dogs, getting covered in dog hair and dodging kisses to the face. I love every minute of our family dinners, where we all sit together and just talk and enjoy each other’s company. I’m definitely going to take these memories with me on the road! And although I was only home for 6 days, I got to spend a lot of quality family time. However, I had a lot going on in those precious 6 days!
I was the guest speaker at the Winona Nordic Annual Fundraiser dinner, to help raise money to put in lights along the ski trails where they have snowmaking. It was a cool opportunity to meet members of the community and annouce something I’m very excited about…a new sponsorship! I have signed with Fastenal, and I will be part of their Blue Team Sports (powered by Fastenal). They manufacture products from fasteners to welding and safety products, and are very involved in giving back to the community. You can learn more about them here: http://www.fastenal.com/web/home
I joined the St. Croix Valley Minnesota Youth Ski Club at their annual ski swap, to work on balance and ski movements with the kids before playing capture the flag and games like we always do. Then, I showed a slideshow presentation of what life is like as a professional nordic skier; traveling, training, racing the World Cup, and hopefully helped inspire a couple MYSL skiers!
That evening, I had my own dinner fundraiser, at the Chilkoot Cafe. This is the third annual dinner, and it wouldn’t be possible without Randy Moses and Lee Stylos organizing and hosting the entire event.
I was so completely humbled by the amount of people that came, and the strength of the cross country community where I live. It was also a great chance (and my only chance) to say hi to and get a hug from so many friends before I leave for the winter. The fundraiser was an awesome success, but even more than the financial support, the moral and emotional support I recieved was incredible. When the road gets tough this winter, when I’m homesick, I’ll think back to what a great community of skiers is home cheering on our team, and I’ll get through it. I just had to include the picture below of the basket that Kris Hansen (my high school coach) organized and dropped at my front door the night I got home. I am, both literally and figuratively, fueled by the Minnesota community!
One last presentation I gave that week was at the Slumberland Conference, as a suprise guest speaker after dinner. I had a great time meeting more people from Slumberland, as they are my headgear sponsor and have been sponsoring me long before I ever earned results on the World Cup. So I was happy and honored to be able to speak at their event!
A theme I touched on for all these presentations came from a book our coach Matt gave to all the girls. It’s called “The Boys In The Boat”, by Daniel James Brown, and it follows the story of how the 1936 Olympic 8 man rowing team won Gold, beating the Germans in front of Hitler. But more importantly the book tells about how the boys banded together as a crew and learned to trust each other in a race. This quote applies to our team, and I think it explains a lot about why we have been doing better and better in races:
“What mattered more than how hard a man rowed was how well everything he did in the boat harmonized with what the other fellows were doing And a man couldn’t harmonize with his crewmates unless he opened his heart to them. He had to care about his crew. It wasn’t just the rowing but his crewmantes that he had to give himself up to, even if it meant getting his feelings hurt…’It has to matter to you whether he wins the race, not just whether you do’.”
It really, really MATTERS to me whether my teammates are happy or not. It matters to me whether they meet their goals. It matters to me if they win the medals I think they deserve. That’s why, especially in relays, I can ski so much harder, and why we can all put in such incredibly hard efforts, because everyone wants to contribute as much as they possibly can to the team goal. It matters, plain and simple, if you’re a team player or not.
Reid Lutter and the Podiumwear team came over to Afton to do a fun photo shoot while I was home as well, and I got to see the fun new designs for the women’s line Podiumwear is making! Pictures will be up on www.podiumwear.com soon, so be sure to vote on your favorite!
Kare 11, an NBC affiliate, came to film a piece, and interviewed my parents and sister as well! I was psyched to give them a small roller ski tour of Afton, and show off the beautiful area.
Last but certainly not least, the Stillwater High School ski team invited me to come join them in a roller ski practice! It’s been a long time since I was doing intervals up Trading Post with the team, but I had some really great flashbacks while watching the first half of their practice. We did some agility drills, including 180* hops on their skis before going through a slalom course and seeing how long they could glide out each ski. Then they got to the intervals, and since my intervals were the previous day, I went back home to finish packing!
It was really hard to say goodbye to my family and friends, and leave for a 5 month tour. But I’ll get to see my family this winter, and we’ll stay in touch! So that brings me to the present, sitting in the lobby of our hotel in Beito, desperately trying to stay awake through the time change.
A quick note on our flight here…I’m starting to come to a sad realization about the baggage check-in desks. When I was flying back to Utah from Placid camp in a boot and crutches, I was treated like a china doll. They didn’t weigh my ski bag, or even bother to charge me for it. But flying to Europe, feeling strong and ready to go, I was super polite but couldn’t catch a break with my big bags and the United lady tried to tell me that only ONE pair of skis was allowed in a ski bag. Yeah, right! What I’ve concluded from all this is that the more weak and pathetic I look, the better I’ll be treated. And isn’t that a kicker? Too bad my job is to be strong and fit. Maybe I’ll travel with crutches from now on… 🙂
Anyways! Wish us luck, and I’ll be updating on our adventures!