"Why did you keep coming back?"
I have been admittedly slow to write anything post-Davos...It's been hard to know what to say after a weekend like that and I needed the time to process. Let's start with a big Thank You to all who cheered, reached out, and made that weekend so special for me. I have truly felt the support from around the globe!
I have done a number of interviews over the last few weeks with various news sources and everyone asks me why I kept coming back after so many obstacles. This has been the question I have been grappling with since that weekend. It has been really challenging to put to words and I suppose there is not just one answer. Every road block I have encountered has come at a different time and has left me with different feelings, but the commonality has been my desire to challenge myself and a strong feeling that I am capable of more.
While some of this might be innate in my character or embedded somewhere deep in my DNA, I believe the willingness to challenge oneself can also be developed. I am not immune to the fear of failure and I think the first part of my career was governed by that fear as well as a strong desire to please everyone around me, to do as expected, and the pressure to excel. Each and every road bump I have faced has forced me to confront this a little more. Every time something didn't go as planned, I was forced to look "failure" in the eye and decide if that failure was too scary to risk again, too embarrassing to put myself out there again, or was letting someone down enough to redirect my life toward something else and walk away from competitive skiing.
Some bumps took longer to reach an answer than others. The series of tearing my PCL (2010), having surgery (2011), then totaling my car (2011) right before the season started actually pushed me to walk away from the sport for a few months, both because I was too injured to race or even train but also because I felt the world was telling me this was not where my future lied. Some bumps, like losing my place on the National Team the first time in 2009, was the first time I realized life does not go as planned no matter how well planned you are (and I was a well planned young adult), but also only took the blink of an eye to decide I wasn't done showing what I could do in the ski world. Regardless of how long it took me to fight my personal battle with failure, in the end, I have always decided or maybe even feared more, that I would be seen as someone who gave up and more importantly, that I still had a battle to fight, I still had a desire to prove to myself, that I had more in me. Each time I've had to look failure in the eye, I have grown a little more, gained a little more perspective, grasped a better understanding of the world or at least come to terms with the fact that I don't have control over the world.
Ultimately, I have learned to re-frame the obstacles I face to not consider any of them "failures," but just "life events" and more importantly an opportunity to show that I am strong, tough, and have what it takes to get through them. Then, racing is no longer fueled by a fear or failure, or a fear of letting someone down, it is simply an outlet to be free, to challenge yourself, to explore your limits. Training has become the best part of my day rather than a place I must prove myself. I now crave the challenge racing on the World Cup brings and seek out opportunities to put myself out there. This does not mean that training, racing, and life are easy. I still face anxiety about all the things that could go wrong, I still get nervous, I still worry about what people think of me, but re-framing all these thoughts into opportunities to show who I am has allowed me space to be me. I have continued on because I am proud of developing the character trait of perseverance and every obstacle I face is another opportunity to let that trait shine.