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Soldier Hollow Summary

Every athlete reaches a point in their career where things go downhill. My mom reached that point during her prime years of ski racing. Her biggest regret, she says, is quitting after that year. Of course she couldn’t stay away from the ski tracks for too long and she eventually returned to the national team. I have learned from her that when times are looking dark, you must persevere with all your might. Looking back, I can fully say that I tried my best in every race at JN’s this year.

The classic sprint brought me unfortunate wax, but I still kicked as hard as I could. During my most solid race, the skate 10k, I pushed hard out of the start and immediately started moving up in the pack. Once in the top thirty I kept trying to pass a group of about 10 girls to put me in the top twenty, each time I was passed back. Despite how bad I felt, I kept reaching for my goal. I wasn’t scared when it came to the classic race, I saw the pace of the fast girls and decidedly matched it up the hollow. Even though I ended up blowing up, I had to be brave and try the pace because I wasn’t about to say, “Well I’m having a bad week so I’ll so out slow.” I placed myself in third going up the hollow the day of the relay, knowing that if I felt good I could hang there. I had another unfortunate event that day in which my pole broke (good excuse for a new pair of poles).

I had an optimistic conversation with Rick Kapala at the closing ceremonies. I told him about my discouraging results and he replied, “In all the years you’re going to be competing this is just one bad week at an inconvenient time. We all know you’re fast.” This was exactly what I needed to hear.

Feeling the thrill of having a really solid race becomes infectious in an athlete. I know what it feels like to have mind and body click, unfortunately mind was there and body wasn’t at this JN’s. I will persevere though, as I hope all the athletes on this trip will too.

One other thing, Alex Kopytko and I were up to our usual tricks at this JN’s. This year, playing Just Dance evolved into two full on dance offs. Alex won the first one, which forced me to drink a liter of mountain dew. Fortunately, I won the second and Alex had to suffer through a V8. Even though I was lying on the couch like a beached whale afterwards, I downed the mountain dew in 15 minutes while Alex took an hour to drink his V8. I couldn’t be happier when I felt no side effects at the closing ceremonies, while Alex looked pale despite his ridiculously sunburned face. I encourage everyone to mention V8 in front of him, just to see his reaction.

My hope is that everyone learned something this year at JN’s. I definitely know Alex learned to stop making bets with me. I learned exactly what I have expressed here and what Rick told me. “Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”- Emerson.

And the Fun Continues…

We have two races under our belts and two more to come. We have had a lot of great results these past two races and are looking forward to having many more in the upcoming races. The other night the athletes were left alone to come up with a team goal concerning Alaska Cup Points. We presented to the coaches our goal of getting top six and, most importantly, beating PNSA.

For as long as I can remember Far West and PNSA have been rivals. Every JN’s brings a variety of pranks and, more importantly, attempting to steal the other team’s flag. This year was no different from any other. Several years ago, we stole PNSA’s flag, kept it for a year, brought it back to JN’s in Presque Isle, and watched it get broken in half in a full on tug a war between the two teams. I guess PNSA thought it was time for some pay back.

Last year was surprisingly pretty quiet for PNSA and Far West. Neither flag was shown much and there were no pranks. This year is turning out to be a whole different story. Yesterday, without notice, Sam put our flag in the back of the trailer which was conveniently parked right in front of a loaded van of PNSA skiers. Needless to say they were pretty smug when they drove away with our flag waving out their window. It wasn’t until perhaps halfway home, that PNSA noticed that a Far West van was following them.

Our detour took us all the way across the valley to PNSA’s giant house where we parked in their driveway and asked if they’d be serving lunch anytime soon. Lucky for us, we had an awards ceremony that night and plenty more window markers. During the ice cream social, we had some of our J2 boys mark up a PNSA van with “Far West Far Best” everywhere. The PNSA kids were pretty fed up with this, so they continued on to take Dylan hostage in their van. He eventually made his way home and got his jacket back today.

We had just finished cleaning our kick wax off this morning when PNSA came marching into the stadium. Far West and PNSA flags both flapping in the breeze, Patrick took this fine opportunity and charged. Far West stood astounded as we watched Patrick sprint through the stadium and towards the parking lot after PNSA. When we finally caught up, Patrick was covered in mud triumphantly holding our ripped Far West flag. We drove away smiling and laughing past the PNSA van, still covered in Far West’s lovely work from the night before. We’re pretty confident that we’re beating PNSA in Alaska Cup Points right now and our next objective is getting PNSA’s flag, and keeping it.

One More Day…

To start off with, this new website is looking really awesome!! It seems that I have absolutely no excuses this year for not blogging. I have a two week spring break which will include JN’s and was astounded to hear today that I have absolutely no homework assigned. This leaves me with no other choice than to catch up on my reading and BLOG, daily.

For me at least, this is the time of year that I start to feel placid. The training part of the year is over, now it’s time to perform. My body is itching to race after tapering for the past week. I have to keep telling myself to calm the heck down! Going into my fourth year at JN’s, I realize that the anticipation factor will never go away.

It seems like it was only yesterday that we were packing up for Minneapolis. To my surprise, it’s already a new year and a new set of faces. For many, this will be their first year at JN’s. I can already tell that everyone is putting on a very serious face going into this trip; they realize that this is a big step up. As I’ve always said, nothing can prepare you for JN’s like going to JN’s. Thus, I’m excited for a new group of teenagers to go and experience what I felt in my first year at JN’s.

With that, it seems that I must begin my absolute least favorite part of the trip, packing. Can my bag pack itself?? We depart at 7 a.m. tomorrow for the always scenic drive through Nevada. Once there, we will head straight to the opening ceremonies. I am definitely looking forward to what this one will bring as each opening ceremony has had a very unique touch. Here we come Soldier Hollow!!! Far West Far Best!

Laurel Fiddler

Age: 16
Hometown Mammoth Lakes, CA
School: Sugar Bowl Academy
Team: Far West
Age first skied: 2
Favorite Book: Water for Elephants
Favorite Nordic Athlete: Kikkan Randall
Favorite Off Snow Sport: Running
Favorite Athlete in that sport: Shalane Flanagan
Most Memorable Far West Experience:
The drive from Boston to Presque Isle Maine. Enough said.
Best Racing Experience:
The 10k at Soldier Hollow this January was an awesome experience for me. It was my first competitive 10k and I ended up getting 6th and only being 2 seconds out of 3rd. It was one of those races where everything just clicked; my mind and body were working in perfect sync together.
If you could have one superhero power, what would it be?
What is something most people can do that you cannot?
I can’t whistle.