It still feels weird to say that! But we are closing in on go time with just 3 days left until I head to Korea so it's time to get used to it and get psyched. As with any big endeavor, the road from 1996 when I decided I wanted to go to the Olympics to 2003 when I first joined the ski team to 2018 when I made my first Olympic Team has been a hilly one. But each rock, root, summit, and valley has made me unique and has helped shape not only who I am as a racer, but who I am as a person. And don't be fooled, this road has many intersections with other's roads and those have maybe had the most impact on which direction I headed next.
I used rollerblades as my first day of ski practice and I still made it back to the parking lot last. I was already 14 at the time so many coaches would have written me off then, happy to have another enrollment fee, but bummed to not have a prodigy. However, my coaches John Callahan and Katie Gould did the opposite and continued to work with me day in and day out to help me learn this crazy sport and to help me see a path forward. My teammates helped me out along the way too showing me the ropes of racing and becoming good friends as well. My time with this team ended all too soon, but I was lucky to be picked right back up by a new group.
My first race suit, The Utah Nordic Alliance-Park City
Gordon Lange continued to hone my ski skills and really teach me what it means to ski race and to train as a ski racer. He is honest and expects hard work but is the first to be there when times are tough or to celebrate a win. He knew exactly how to motivate me and teach me to push my limits. Along with that, the plethora of boys and lack of girls to train with kept me tough and made sure I was testing myself on a regular basis. Despite the times when I was desperate for more female teammates, they made me better and certainly thickened my skin ; )
My few, but amazing female teammates on Park City Nordic
Trudging through the Wind Rivers with Park City Nordic
My desire for female teammates blossomed at Dartmouth where I not only had a very large team of women to train with, I had a female coach, Cami Thompson. This experience taught me how to work with a group of strong minded and determined women and make it work, and work well at that. It also taught me the importance of a coach that really understands you and the various obstacles you may hit. The support group of the Dartmouth Ski Team went beyond that, the entire team, Men and Women as well as Cami and Ruff provided the safety net I needed as I navigated loosing my place on the U.S. Ski Team in addition to way too many injuries. That support truly kept me going as I questioned my desire to race and my place in the world.
Strong, fun, and determined group of women
After deciding, I did in fact still have some desire to race in me, I headed to Alaska with big hopes and dreams. APU provided me a team of strong women just like I had at Dartmouth and more opportunity to train on snow, hopefully minimizing my injury tract that had derailed me too many times. While I had great teammates and a great coach, it was a wake up call. Everyday was a challenge. I felt like I was back in my first day of practice, just struggling to keep up at all in any activity. It was brutal. But as only Erik Flora can do, he stayed optimistic, forcing me to look at the little improvements everyday and encouraging me to just keep trying. After doing what I thought was my best for a few years, I was left quite disappointed, missing out on the 2014 Olympic Team by not much. Maybe this wasn't the secret. I once again began questioning my choices, my path, and my future.
Committed to this crazy group for as long as ski racing is in me
After deciding to move home to Utah, I was on a plane back to Alaska to fetch the rest of my belongings when I had what I can only really call an epiphany. Alaska and APU had provided me literally everything I needed to be successful: a great coach, a strong team, good friends and teammates, a glacier to train on, mountains to run in, a house to live in, classes to take, and medical support. I was the piece not fitting in right. I needed to shit my mind, make the most of the opportunities given, and be thankful for the immense support I had. When I straightened that out, things began to click and I began to see the future I had dreamed of at 16.
As each piece of media emerges, I am sometimes from Park City, sometimes a Dartmouth Alum, and sometimes from Anchorage. I struggle every time someone asks me where I am from and never know what to write when I have to fill in that line. I truly have a piece of my heart in all these places and can't decide if Park City or Anchorage is home. I am lucky because each team I have been a part of has had a very positive impact in my life and has taught me too many things to count. I have been graced with great coaches throughout my career and want to be sure each team knows just how important they are to me.