So, while most people are sitting with their families, stuffing themselves with Turkey, I am sitting in a very empty house, eating pasta leftovers all by myself. This may sound depressing, but I am watching my beloved Patriots so I could not be more content. Now you might think that something is wrong with me (which is a valid argument), however, to be honest I’ve never really been all psyched about Thanksgiving mostly because, as a skier, I’ve never really celebrated it. In high school, I spent most Thanksgivings skiing in Canada and was lucky if I got to enjoy a token pumpkin pie. Perhaps my fondest memory of thanksgiving was a few years ago when I was in Nepal, and went to the US ambassador’s house and had miniature turkey sandwiches…I was just so thankful to eat meat that I actually recognized after 3 months of…?? So, to make a long story short, I am thoroughly enjoying watching football, which is the only thanksgiving tradition that I religiously follow. All that being said, Happy Thanksgiving Everybody!!
I have also spent this Thanksgiving working on the online course/test I have to take in order to be certified to coach at the high school. This course literally takes 5 hours…yup, 5 hours. Most of the test questions I could answer without actually reading anything but instead I am forced to page through endless lessons and demonstrations. That is not to say I haven’t learned anything. Perhaps the most interesting thing was reading about how to help athletes with anxiety before competitions. I will probably talk about this a lot this winter, but I have had serious issues with anxiety throughout my skiing career and it has definitely inhibited my ability to preform well on the race course. The more nervous I am, the worse I do, no exceptions. There is a very fine line between nervous excitement/adrenaline which is usually a positive and throwing up my entire breakfast minutes before my start time (yeah, gross, I know, but that was me…every single race last year). This course says that anxiety is all about how the athlete perceives the differential between their ability and the difficulty of the task. The bigger the perceived differential, the more anxious they are likely to be. This is only partly true, I think. I get more nervous when I’m in better shape and I care more. I thought I had learned how to handle my anxiety in college, until I got to my senior year. I had spent the summer training in Truckee and I was probably in the best shape of my life so I had higher expectations and I wanted all my work to pay off. Cue upchuck. So this season, my goal is to figure out how to turn nerves into excitement and just relax and have fun skiing. That is why we do it, after all. My other goal is to help my athletes to relax, embrace excitement and handle nerves. My biggest regret was not dealing with my anxiety earlier or talking to my coaches about it until the last weekend of the season (my best friend wasn’t racing so she was my personal shrink and skiied the warmup with me, distracting me with gossip. It worked, I didn’t throw up, and I had my best races of the season.)
One last thing- the ski season starts for real tomorrow!!! Good luck to everyone racing in West Yellowstone! And this weekend is the first World Cups of the season in Sweden. SO EXCITED!! If you are a young athlete, let me tell you, there is nothing more motivating and inspiring then following the US ski team (or canada or really anyone…pick someone cool) on the international stage (maybe even more exciting than football…and that is saying something coming from me:) If you don’t already, you should follow fasterskier.com- it has terrific and timely reporting from all the major xc races around the world. Also, if you are an early riser, check out frombar.tv (formerly sportlemon.tv)- they usually have all the live races from the world cups but only live (no replays) so you have to wake up for Euro time (disclaimer: not sure how legal this site is…but it’s awesome!)