The holiday hustle

Ah, the bliss of a post-holiday vacation… Testing out — or exchanging — those killer (in whichever sense of the word is most appropriate) presents, munching on tasty leftovers, SKIING, and just enjoying the simple pleasure of care-free day without agenda… Must be nice!!!

While this may be the situation for many right now — of whom I am extremely envious! — it is not the case for me. I did get a blissful four days off for Christmas — my first “vacation” since starting work in April — but as slowly as it came, it went even more quickly, and I am back on the grind. The holiday was amazing, and I particularly enjoyed being able to get some quality time on my skis… in addition to my lack of agenda and surplus of delicious treats, which I may or may not have overindulged in (I’ll leave it at that).

But, time passes, so inconveniently at times, and I find myself doing the holiday hustle, while many others are catching up on some R&R. I am somehow managing a fine balancing act of three jobs in addition to training, and of course taking the time to enjoy the finer moments in life and be a contributing family member and friend. I have become a relative master of this unique art, like a performer at a circus, and most people would probably find me just as crazy. But, while there are certainly some bumps in the road, I have to say, I am enjoying the act, despite its quick pace.

One would certainly be very lucky to be able to dedicate themselves wholeheartedly to being an athlete, and call it their career in addition to their passion and practice. But in my experience, that is fairly rare, because life, and in my case other passions, come in conflict. And that’s where the balancing act comes in. I understand that the reality for me is that there are several things I am passionate enough about to want to pursue as a career: for the time being, writing, athletics, coaching and teaching, though there are so many others I only wish I could squeeze in, and likely will do in the future. I have chosen to pursue each of those things, in a quest to see where they will take me, and in an effort to support myself amidst the realities of life (more specifically, bills, and even more specifically, those nagging student loans). And I am doing my best each and everyday to give all that I can to each of these roles, because frankly I wouldn’t have it any other way.

While I know that my situation is probably not entirely unique or any more difficult than anyone else’s, I do acknowledge that it presents challenges, and is not the easiest path toward attaining optimum success in any one area, including skiing. But, it is the path I continue to chose, for reasons that perhaps only I can understand. And along with the difficulties, it continues to bring me many rewards.

Just before the holidays, my team, North Tahoe High School, raced in their first CNISSF race at Kirkwood. To say that the day was less than ideal is a gross understatement. The weather was unbelievably harsh. But the kids, several of whom were racing for their first time, got out there and gave it their all. And though some of them were disappointed with their results, I felt extremely proud of their efforts. I know there are only better things to come, and I am anxious to see them unfold.

In addition, several athletes I am coaching/have been coaching/ have coached, went out in yet another snowstorm and left everything they had on the Snowshoe Thompson course, and found themselves meeting the JO qualifying standards for the race. That was a first for several of these athletes. And while I couldn’t be there to witness it, I was so incredibly impressed and proud to see their results. A very big reward, for them, but also for me.

On teaching… I have started a few different clinics over at Tahoe XC, including a Women’s only clinic, which has been an immense success thus far. While I have heard feedback that the women are reeping the benefits of the class, I don’t know whether they know that I am too. It is, in so many ways, empowering. To be with a strong group of female athletes sharing in the same goals and challenges and working together to achieve and overcome them is really an incredible feeling, beyond what I had expected. I knew the atmosphere would be great for the women in the class, and conducive to success, but I didn’t predict that I would feel so empowered by it as well. Being able to teach and share with these women has been awesome so far, and I am looking forward to watching them, and myself, progress throughout the season.

I also got the chance before school got out to ski with a few of the middle schoolers that I had coached this summer through the development program. Again, I felt empowered by the atmosphere, though there were only four of us. I could see just how strong their passion for skiing has become, elevated by the season, and how many gains they had made over the summer. It was a sense of accomplishment for me, knowing I had something to do with it. And when these same athletes went on to win the middle school boy’s race, I felt I had a little part in that too, somewhere rooted in the background.

I have not done a ski race yet this year, as I just haven’t felt I had enough solid on-snow training days under my belt yet, but that will come soon. And so too will those rewards. For now, I am doing my best to hustle with grace — my dance of choice — and enjoy the moments along the way.

Living in The Sprawl

Hi all,

I’m safe and sound here in Salt Lake City, or I should rather say Cottonwood Heights (the suburb turned city on the outskirts of Salt Lake). I have got to do some skiing here, and the snow has been very good.

Yesterday I went cross-country skiing up at Alta Ski Resort while my family did a little downhill skiing, and it was a great day for a Christmas ski.

Today, I decided that I’d run across town to the radioshack for a workout (also to pick up the 1TB Hard Drive I’ve been pining for). It ended up taking me 1.5 hours round trip (after subtracting stopping to shop and those long waits at intersections). With my backpack chafing my skin, I eventually made it home, and learned that even errands can be workouts.

Just trying to keep things interesting while living in the sprawl

Merry Christmas

Laura Henze hands off to Julie Falke

The Incline High nordic team is featured in the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza after the CNISSF high school and middle school opener. Pictures cannot really convey the brutal wind and icy precipitation that was hammering the athletes for 3km loop at Kirkwood XC on December 17th. As a small team that had to compete in a 3-person relay format, our results are hard to read. A team with our two boys Evan Vomund and Ryan Collins returned their team from 10th place to 6th place. I saw incredible effort from very new skiers who had been on snow for only a week or two.

Tomorrow is the first Junior National Qualifier. The 10km classic Snowshoe Thompson Race at Auburn Ski Club could be difficult. There is a good chance that falling snow will make for unpredictable wax conditions. Wednesday afternoon the Incline Nordic team worked on technical uphill climbs at Tahoe XC. If you haven’t made a few embarassing attempts at skiing up a slanted and uneven trail on classic skis, it’s a really good idea. No matter how fit you might be, reading the trail properly and being nimble on your equipment will make all the difference in a crowded race with people cheering on the sidelines.

Merry Christmas!

Skiing in Leipzig

I’m spending the last couple days before Christmas in Leipzig, a city near Berlin with about 500’000 citizens. It’s mostly flat, it gets warm in summer and cold during winter, but not too much snow. Not the place you usually would expect to ski! Well this year it’s different. The snow is making the rules right now. Airports are closed and roads are slow which means there’s enough snow to ski!

Cruising around the parks where you normally see only runners is pretty cool and it gives me the opportunity to get those kilometers on snow. I wish it could be like that every time I’m here… =)

Northbound

Well somewhat north.  I have just arrived home in Alaska for a short stay over Christmas.  The past week racing in Canada has been interesting, and I’ll ramble about it soon, but not now.   As I sit inside with my cup of tea I look out to see a bit of a winter wonderland.

I saw the token hippie Nordic skier stride down the snow-covered road on my way up the drive.  It cracked me up a bit to see long dreads whipping about beneath a fuzzy knit cap, classic Girdwood I suppose.  I do love seeing people from every walk of life wandering around, from those skiing on old three-pins to those on the new feather weight, gold plate base turbo skis.  At the end of the day we ski for ourselves, not only for a win someday (not that I would be particularly disappointed with it).  When I’m all alone and revering every moment, the simple stillness interrupted only by the curious squirrel and wandering snowflake.  Or the occasion I get to ski with someone who I’ve missed sorely and I spend the entire ski (and coffee afterwards) out of breath from too much chatter and laughter.  It’s every day that I feel more fortunate than the commuters creeping through traffic at 8:00 am and again at 5:00 pm.  Poor guys.   Mmm, to be out there day after day.

Off topic (again), I know. Standard.  But that’s how my mind usually works…drifting  (sometimes jumping) from moment to memory… and so on.

Chelsea Holmes on Fasterskier

Just thought I would pass on a link to article about Farm Team skier, Chelsea Holmes:

http://fasterskier.com/2010/12/chelsea-holmes-fired-up-to-race/

Check it out!

Way to Go Chelsea

Vamos a Salt Lake City

I’m done with finals (Organic Chemistry was tough on monday) and now I’m headed to Salt Lake City to spend time with my family during the holiday break from school. My training goal for the break is to get some good volume in while racing. There will be a few citizen races which I’ll be entering to get some good hard efforts in, but on the whole it is a training break (meaning that I’m going to try to train as much as possible while I’ve got free time and free meals at home) :-)

Hope everybody is enjoying their December so far,

Gus