Laurel Fiddler

National J2 Talent Camp in Houghton Michigan

On Saturday July 31st I said goodbye to the only coach I’d ever known, my mother, and departed on my first out of four flights to the upper peninsula of Michigan. After a long day of travel I arrived at the small airport in Houghton at midnight, exhausted. I’ll never forget the feeling of walking into dining hall that first morning. Out of the forty athletes there I only knew one familiar face, Katrin Larusson, otherwise I was lost. I squeezed into a table and found my nightmare wasn’t going to come true, these kids were actually pretty welcoming. By the end of breakfast I was beginning to learn names and feel like part of the group.

Little did I know that making friends was going to be the easy part of camp. Every day, for seven days straight we did double workouts with the exception of one day. Every ounce of strength and energy we had was used and each part of ski training was addressed. Hill bounding intervals, a strength test, classic roller skiing intervals, skate sprints, roller skiing technique, distance runs, speed and agility, stretching (both with and without roller skis on), and don’t forget ulitmate frisbee and soccer, we did it all. Making it even more gruesome, there was the blistering heat and 90% humidity! When we roller skied several coaches would take video footage. In the afternoon we would examine each athletes technique and get pointers from the coaches. Speaking of coaches, the coaching was incredible. Not only did the coaches participate in the workouts with us, but they gave us each individual technique help. To add to that, we had nightly presentations on technique, nutrition, recovery, and overall determination.

Of course we had our adventures, daily. I got lost in the middle of a national forest on the hour and a half distance run. Marion Woods cut a knot out of her hair with a razor blade. We went swimming in Lake Superior. By the end of camp we truly felt like a team. Piled onto three couches in front of the TV the coaches said we were the most together group of athletes they had ever seen. Of course they had never seen Far West athletes, who act like we are a family. But, it was true we adapted quickly and learned to be a team of our own.

Not until after the camp did I realize what I had just done. I had completed every workout ignoring the fact that I was with the best in the nation. I thought of them as just some other kids just like me. Then it hit me, they were. They had the same focus and determination as I do, and we all wanted the exact same thing. This camp made me realize that what seems impossible is entirely possible. Training with the best in the nation made me a stronger person and athlete. Now I have a determination I never had before. Going into this camp I expected to be at the back end of the group but, I wasn’t. Perhaps I was better at some things than others but, I certainly surprised myself. I hope to again this winter. This camp was an inspirational experience for me and I hope it was for all my new friends who went too. As Rick Kapala said we are, “the future of skiing”.

Long live Team Bawse!

2 replies
  1. drkimberly
    drkimberly says:

    I grew up in Upper Michigan near Marquette and attended Michigan Tech in Houghton. I enjoyed reading your article about camp. Where was it held? What has been your impression of the UP (besides hot and humid)?

    PS – Were you one of the Far West Juniors at the Mammoth Biathlon? We may have met. I know your mom and remember visiting with her at the awards ceremony.

    Take Care,
    Kimberly Kaznowski

  2. Laurel Fiddler
    Laurel Fiddler says:

    Wow that’s amazing because we stayed in dorms at Michigan Tech!!! I thought it was so beautiful up there. Great trails for running, nice roads for roller skiing (out in the middle of nowhere), and of course Lake Superior was amazing!

    I was, I won the junior girls race so I do believe we have met. Your name sounds familiar. Thank you for reading my blog!!!

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