So, racing season is over. Finito. Done.
Because of an illness, I didn’t get to race the last race of the season, which has left me lacking closure on my year. As I sort through photos and organize memories trying to find something perfect and beautiful to say about the year, I’m finding a huge spectrum of experience that can’t be summed up in any one anecdote or theme.
You guys. There is just. So. Much.
So much good, so much bad, plenty of great and even a sprinkling of perfect. Few thoughts seem to string together the lives of ski racers better than the acknowledgement that what we do is really, really hard, but we can’t deny that there’s something about it, the community, the challenge, the promise, that keeps us coming back. The sport is continually evolving, as are we within it, and we always want more.
It doesn’t matter how many years you do it, every year brings with it a slew of lessons, mistakes and surprises. For the sake of clarity and conciseness, I’ve composed a list of all the things I learned (or just gathered strong opinions on) this season, in no particular order:
1. The way to say “I am a little unicorn” in German is “ich bin eine einhornchen.”
2. “Floating” over half a meter of new snow is much harder and less graceful than it sounds.
3. Nothing beats a teammate waiting for you in the finish line.
4. Despite our excess of knobby knees and lack of rhythm, dancing is the social currency of the Nordic ski world.
I rest my case.
5. It doesn’t have much to do with skiing, but I really nailed the upright plane sleep (the secret is in a good scarf that you turn into a pillow, fashion and function!)
6. One of the most damaging words in skiing is “should.” It’s wrought with obligation. Rather than dwelling on where I should be, what I should do, or should have done, I’m working on focusing on the opportunities in each race.
7. I do not particularly like Shark steak.
8. Going uphill will always hurt, so you might as well hurt fast rather than hurt slow.
9. Although, racing sick is never a good idea, because no matter how fast or slow you go, it will hurt more than anything, ever.
10. Nothing will teach you more about communication, emotional literacy and wine than being on a team with five girls.
11. You learn just as much spending time with three guy teammates.
12. The snow is dwindling.
13. No matter what everyone says, vests look cool.
14. Chanting “USA” in a foreign country is only about half as douchy as you think it will be. In real life, it’s a fantastic way to get fired up and represent your country.
15. The tea they serve at the finish line in the Czech Republic is to die for.
16. At the end of the day, all the people who intimidate us are just other people in suits.
17. Slick skis are better than sticky skis.
18. When the wind chill is below negative 20, you should wear booty spandex, covered by three quarter length tights, long socks, long underwear and then racing spandex.
19. Always check the finish area before leaving the venue, you just might find that you left your pants.
20. Nordic skiers are a weird breed, which makes them some of the best people you will ever meet.
21 (my lucky number). Pursuing this sport is incredibly meaningful and fulfilling. Can’t wait to get back.