The National Nordic Foundation has done so much for my teammates and me. Without them, I likely wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t be able to call myself a professional athlete. I definitely wouldn’t experience the American ski culture the same way. Copied below is a post I wrote for them about our first day in Italy. Give it a read, check out their website and the join the community!
Our first 24 hours in Italy have been everything I dreamed they would be, snowy (now a relative term) and food filled. I write during one of the meal breaks. (In Italy, eating is like training, it’s important to get good recovery between sessions.) As we drove from Munich down to Toblach, (Dobbiaco, se tu parla l’Itliano), the shock of the brown and green hillsides was enough to keep our jet lag staid. It wasn’t until we had driven well into the Alps south of Austria that we began to see snow, in meager amounts at best. By the time we reached Toblach, however, we could see a wealth of groomed trails along the roadside. It appeared we had just snuck across the border between winter and spring, and were the lucky ones on the side of the former. I have a feeling that understanding will define our week: that we are lucky to have the opportunity to train here, with incredible company in a beautiful place.
Last night, a few of the women’s team members walked into town in order to keep awake until dinner. We entered one of the ski shops and were soon approached by a gaggle of preteen girls. They were cross-country skiers from Australia, they told us, and were wondering if they could take a photo with us. We looked at each other, debating whether or not we should tell them that we aren’t actually on the US Ski Team, and decided to go ahead and take the photo, if anything because it made us feel good about ourselves.
Walking home, shyly giggling at the thought of the girls looking at the Ski Team roster to see who they had met (we concluded I could pass for a sun deprived Sadie Bjornsen), I realized how special that moment in the shop had been. To those girls, whether they knew who we were or not, we represented a team that has come to mean something in this sport. A group of people whose unyielding will and belief has brought them to a standard higher than anyone could have predicted years ago. What’s more, we have belonged to that team since long before we were named to this trip. There is no doubt that the energy and dedication of our teammates abroad has trickled down to the domestic circuit. But we’re not its only recipients. Our conversation with those young girls proved that that energy, that hope, hasn’t only trickled down, it’s flooded sideways. It’s crossed borders and travelled horizontally, spreading optimism and motivation to more than just our hemisphere.
What our country has done with skiing isn’t just accessing the sport, it’s changing it. Being a skier in the US, regardless of what jacket you wear, makes you a part of that change. Being here makes its effect all that more clear, and I’m proud to be a part of our team, no matter where I am.
Thanks to the NNF for helping us get here, and for fueling the momentum that creates moments like these.