I imagine it is a little to late to blog now, but here goes nothing…
I am just nineteen. Too old now for the junior circuit, and too young to be what I seem to have become- heading into my senior year in college. It all comes full circle in the end- it worries me a little to be a senior in ski racing as I, like all skiers, spent the first 19 years of my life as a junior.
My dearest Katrin, thank you for the note you gave me. “Somewhere behind the athlete you’ve become and the hours of practice and the coaches who have pushed you is a little girl who fell in love with skiing and never looked back…keep skiing for her.” She wrote it in gel pen on a little scrap of paper and it is somehow more beautiful than any calligraphy in the world. Coming from the most disappointing finish of my career (had to happen sometime) into the world of Far West was like coming back home, where they love you for who you are. And you are right, my up and coming rockstar, and I will keep skiing for her, because once I was 4 and a half feet tall and wondered that anyone real was fast enough to with a junior national title.
I’ve roomed with Annika every JOs, and even the year she was too young to come she was still there- she is as eternal in my memories of skiing as Jeff and Glenn are- as the Sierra spruce’s, their legacy stretches far before mine and surely will continue long after. I am so old, in fact, that I recall the day when Ben came for his first day of coaching. You are all in my memories, you are to me what defines skiing- the years in which it is not all grueling training but love for the sport and each other and the eternal California sun.
I thought every year that it would be my last year of skiing. Every junior nationals, every year at college even. But something drew me back every time. I hope that you all find that beauty and joy, whether you choose Matt Gelso’s path and continue on into a life of only skiing (at least for now) or go off to a college in Southern California and love the sport from afar (Justin Ondry). Learn from them, you can be an enthusiast no matter what you choose. Unless you are Jessie Diggins (power to my friend across the sea, keep rocking!) I don’t recommend that you dive into the sport with reckless abandon at the expense of everything else. Learn to fight for what you want, like her. There is a reason there are 90 year old masters skiers still cruising around the trails. And of all the things I miss, being away in Boulder on the college circuit, it is those dedicated masters I miss most of all. Learn to love what you do from them. Have the courage of Adele Espy, to make the World Junior team and be within one race of a spot on the US Ski Team, and then acquire a chronic disease–but still love and support your friends in the same sport that ripped your dreams from you.
It is not magic or genes or inborn talent that pushes you to the top of the podium, it is hard work, pure and simple. I’ve lived with, laughed with, danced with Eliska Hajkova and Jessie Diggins, both world cup skiers of the finest caliber, and they are as real and as wonderful as you could imagine, and impossibly hard workers. Be brave, be strong, ski fast, ski free. Love your coaches, your teammates, your life, and rise up and live it.
Thank you Far West for the years you have given me. I am proud to have borne your team name from a 50th place at JOs to the top of the Junior National podium to the top of the college podium, and all the way inbetween. Wherever I am, however I ski or do not ski, I am a Cali girl until the end, and I will always be rooting for each and every one of you.
This one is for you ,Ben, I’m off to try to put some tele-turns in the corn, but mostly likely I’ll end up face first in the snow. The day you walked into the ASC locker room is not a day I’ll ever forget- I’ve never met a more free spirit than you.
Dream big, my Far West family, and I’ll see you on the trails.