Winter is my favorite season. I love snow, cold and all the fun the winter season brings. I have never understood why the middle part of winter gets people down in the dumps. This winter, I experienced my own version of the “Mid-Winter Blues”, but not because it was dark, cold and snowy.
|That's some nice skiing|
As I noted in my previous post, my non-selection to the European Championships team put to rest any ambitions I had of racing overseas this season and consequently the chances of my being included in a national training group next season. I did my best to stay focused on improving myself at every opportunity and enjoying the winter season. After a few days of bitter disappointment, I expected my normal outlook to return. Instead, I continually felt sad, unmotivated and depressed. Despite the lovely winter atmosphere, miraculously good skiing in Southern Maine, and the absence of competition stress, I felt lost, frustrated and directionless. Losing my primary goals of racing in Europe and progressing to a national training group hit me much harder than I expected it to.
I should note that technically, I still had a chance to qualify for European competition. The February North American Cups in Jericho, VT and Lake Placid New York where listed as selection races for March IBU Cup Racing in Russia. I knew that even if I was selected for this tour, I would not be able to afford to go. Furthermore, the selection criteria for next season’s national training groups did not contain any objective standards for March European racing. After some deliberation, I decided that I should put the time and energy I devoted in the training year to use and race some biathlon.
The NorAm in Jericho was much like the rest of my season, a mixed bag. I was graciously hosted by the coaches of the Mansfield Nordic Club. Check them out here: http://www.mansfieldnordic.org/, they are doing amazing work for Nordic sport in Vermont. I shot 86% prone over the race weekend, received some excellent race day coaching and felt fast and fit on skis. On the other side of the coin, I struggled shooting standing and did not have competitive skis compared to other top athletes. The USBA same wax protocol was not put into effect for this NorAm. Consequently, some of my competitors and I where at a serious disadvantage to those athletes whose teams could apply multiple layers of expensive wax to their skis. So far, I have not seen any sign that these races where used to qualify athletes to race in Europe, so ultimately, the gap in wax preparation did not matter. I ended the weekend with a terribly long, rainy, dark and windy drive home.
Lacking the funds to travel to Lake Placid, I took the opportunity to help others reach their goals. I graciously accepted an invitation from my former coaches Cory and Steve to help prepare skis for the University of New Hampshire at the final college carnival of the season in Middlebury, Vermont. A weekend helping others, seeing old friends, feeling for fast skis, and unplugging from my normal routine was the perfect reset to help me shake the last of my “Mid-Winter Blues.” I am very grateful to the UNH Skiing community for all they do and have done to make me feel like a part of something bigger than myself.
A second uplifting force came in the form of the sublime performance of Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggings in the Team Sprint at the Olympics. Their GOLD MEDAL performance brought joy and inspiration to all corners of the Nordic world, especially right here in the USA. I am so excited to see the generation of athletes they have inspired bring home Olympic Medals of their own.
I will not be traveling to Utah of US Biathlon Nationals. Instead, I will be jumping back into cross country racing at the US Supertour Finals in Craftsbury, Vermont at the end of March. I will be racing the 15km freestyle race and aiming for a performance which outdoes my current 132 USSA point status, a number more than double my personal best of 65. (USSA points are like golf-lower is better.)
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