I am an Eastern girl at heart. Well, a New Hampshire girl, if we’re going to be specific. I was born and raised near the state’s capital and I’ve spent the past three years—and almost two year consecutively—at Dartmouth College in the small town of Hanover. So when I decided that I wanted to focus on ski training this summer, I knew that I was due for a westward adventure. It was time to see the country a little bit. Dartmouth attracts its fair share of Westerners, and my Western friends heap high praise on their home states. I’ve heard legends of endless sunshine, negligible humidity, rugged mountain ranges out the backdoor, and in the winter, extra blue wax every day and more snow than you know what to do with.
So I was easily sold on the West, but where exactly was I going to spend my summer? Boulder? Sun Valley? Bozeman? Bend? In addition to endless sunshine and backyard mountains, I was looking for a strong training group with girls who would push me in workouts and a knowledgeable coach who could help me achieve my goals. I walked onto Dartmouth’s Development Team with no aspirations of Carnival racing, but after a very successful season last winter, I started looking to compete for Carnival starts in 2013. In order to have a real shot, I knew that I would need to improve overall fitness and strength and specifically my skate technique. I talked to my Dartmouth coach, Cami Thompson Graves, and contacted several coaches at her suggestion. Among them was Far West and SBA coach Martin Benes, who had worked at Dartmouth prior to my arrival. Cami knew that Martin had recently started a summer training group for college skiers. She wasn’t able to provide me with much more information. Little did she know, it was going to be a great fit.
In addition to Cami’s recommendation and the promise of a strong group of girls, several things drew me to the Far West Residency Program and a summer of training in Truckee. I appreciated Martin’s suggestion that athletes look for part-time work. It’s a realistic perspective: dedicated athletes though we may be, we are also college students. This means that we don’t have a lot of money and that a singular focus on ski training may not be feasible. There is a bit of irony here. Though I am partially employed doing research for folks back in New Hampshire, I have not been very successful at finding employment in Truckee. However, Mom, Dad, & Co. has generously agreed to sponsor what will probably be my final summer of ski training. Thankfully, Martin has done a wonderful job of keeping costs low by providing transportation to training and finding homestays and other inexpensive living arrangements. It was certainly much easier to convince my parents that training was a better idea than a job when a summer in California proved to be affordable.
And finally—Truckee itself. I never competed at Junior Nationals here, but friends who did told me stories of perfect weather and beautiful mountain views. Sounds good, right? But Truckee is even better than I had anticipated. I spend my days running through the mountains on the PCT, at Donner Summit, and at Squaw. Alternately, I find myself rollerskiing through Tahoe National Forest; I think training at Boca Reservoir provides some of the best rollerski vistas I’ve ever had. Or is it the views of Donner Lake on the way up Old 40? I can’t decide. I cool off in Boca and Donner Lake, and I’ve seen fireworks over the iconic Lake Tahoe and from Donner Summit. And I’ve haven’t even explored the area on bike yet. I spend my days here with the constant feeling of being a kid in a candy shop: I get to spend my whole summer here? You’re kidding, right? Nope. Not kidding. I guess I’m just another Eastern girl wined and dined by—and falling for—Truckee, Tahoe, and the Sierra Nevada. And I’m sure I’ll love the Drifter Time Trial by the end of the summer, too—who doesn’t enjoy running uphill at 7000 feet? I know I do.
Emily Blackmer is a rising senior at Dartmouth College where she studies anthropology and has a particular interest in environmental issues. In addition to ski training and racing, she loves playing in the mountains, reading books, food (both cooking and eating!), and outdoor adventuring with friends.