This past Saturday, I led a “Girls’ Day” for the Far West girls after skiing up at ASC. I thought that it would be great way to get all of the girls together to spend some time with one another off the snow, and I thought working on a fun project together would be the best way to do that. From my perspective, it was a definite “success.” There ended up being 10 of us — 4 athletes from ASC, and 5 from Sugar Bowl Academy, plus me. We made gingerbread and sugar cookies from scratch, and then had a decorating extravaganza, with colored frosting, sprinkles, chocolate chips and more. The cookies actually turned out great! I was a little skeptical during the preparation process Once we had everything mixed up and ready to go, we baked the cookies by the dozens in the oven, and then went to town with our decorating. The juniors came up with some seriously cool cookie designs. I was impressed! There were Christmas trees, rudolphs, angels, and even a whole snowman family! As pretty as they were, we enjoyed digging in to the masterpieces when we were done — and maybe a little bit along the way too!
The cookies were delicious, but it was really the process of making them, all together, that made the day special for me. I truly believe that the importance of setting aside some “team bonding” time, outside of workouts, cannot be overstated. A team that can laugh together, enjoy spending time together, and be there for one another is truly a strong team. And, as we all know, a strong team is a fast team! More importantly, while Nordic skiing does so much for us in the way of our physical shape, we also love it because it provides us with lifelong friendships. I know from my experiences as a junior that while my Nordic career did so much for me athletically and scholastically, it is also responsible for some of my most cherished memories, and strongest friendships. But even though Far West is a small division, we are so busy in the winter that sometimes we don’t get as much time as we’d like to just hang out with our teammates, rather than train with them. So hopefully “Girls’ Day” provided the juniors with a chance to better get to know those they don’t know well yet, and strengthen the bond they already share with others. As Nordic skiers, we work so hard alongside one another all year long, sharing the same challenges and similar victories; generating sweat, tears and smiles. In my mind, there is no better basis for friendship.
And while the juniors and I are separated by years, our experiences when it comes to skiing are still very much the same. And while I know I’m not the fastest skier out there, I truly hope that the person and friend I am both on and off the snow provides a positive influence for our juniors — girls in particular. I know that, for their dedication, effort and more importantly the heart they put into not only skiing, but one another, they sure do give me something to look up to, despite being younger. There are few things more valuable than a strong, kind female role model. So thanks, Far West girls, for being just that! (And yes, while this post is focused on the girls and the girls’ day, you boys are pretty awesome too! Thanks, also, for your impact on me as an athlete, coach and person. And of course, for always making skiing fun!)