I am an Olympic skier. An artist. An explorer and a creator.
Find out more about me in the "Bio" tab above, read through my contemplations on my blog, or see below for general updates!
So we're back in Copper... which means it's that time of year again. The summer always seems to fly by, and the racing season approaches quickly. I get nearly the same feeling every year: where did the summer go? Where did the fall go? Where did the time go? And before I know it, I'm back in Lake Louise, clicking into my skis, pushing out of the start gate in the first DH race of the year.
Our last training camp in Corralco, Chile went well, despite the crazy amount of new snow fall during the first few days we were there. The men's speed team was there as well, so we got to join them for a few days of SG and DH training, which was incredibly fun and exciting...attempting to beat the boys is one of my favorite challenges. I also learned a lot about shit-talking during those few days, which was very educational and motivating! The snow fell hard for a few days, then began to settle and harden up toward the end of our first block. We took two days off in the middle of the camp due to weather, and another storm rolled in during those days off. So the second block was pretty similar: the snow was soft at first, and hardened with time. It was perfectly icy the day before we left, but it was really beneficial to train in varying conditions and test out equipment on some different snow.
After my second Chile camp I had a 3-week break and decided to spend the entirety of my time off at home in Oregon. It was so nice to sleep in my own bed for 3 weeks, as I know that probably won't happen again until next summer. I trained with my trainer (Kevin Boss) at his gym, went on a few mountain bike rides, and took a camping trip to the coast with Tommy and our Cricket. We went mushroom hunting, surfing, and beach-wandering -- which was delightfully refreshing. Then I took off to Park City for physical testing before heading over here to Copper....
For our last race-prep camp! I still can't believe it's almost time to head to Lake Louise. My skiing has been solid, steady and progressively getting faster all summer. I feel ready to race. started skiing without my knee brace in October, and have been loving the freedom of movement the lack of brace provides. 18 months since my surgery came and went, and it was time to ditch that brace. It seemed to be more of a mental crutch for me than anything, seeing as my ligaments are healthy and strong and my knee is (theoretically) functioning normally. I still get pains here and there, but nothing like last year at this time! I finally feel like I'm not "returning from injury" anymore. I feel like my old self...and that feels so good. Of course my mentality is slightly different than it was before I got injured: I am more careful, more calculating and more tentative at times, but my skiing is strong. And I feel like the experience and wisdom is more valuable than the lack of fear that I previously had. So I'm gonna take that. And run. Or, ski?
I head home in 5 days for a short Thanksgiving break with my family, and then it's off to Canada! I am starting to get psyched, antsy and hungry in anticipation of the race season. I feel so lucky to be healthy again, and so lucky to have the opportunity to race again. I know I need to take full advantage of it! So I will head up north, buckle my boots up tight, and work on getting sendy! Tune into NBC Gold to watch all the World Cup races this year. And check-in here (bi?) monthly for updates and posts. Thanks for reading :)
(both photos in this post were taken by Sarah Ann Brunson)
And we're back! Corralco has been a bit different this time around...it snowed (and rained) quite a lot when we first arrived. We missed the first few days of training, but got some pretty sweet powder skiing in and also ran in our speed skis on a few SG and DH test tracks. Although it's boring, it's always good to practice gliding and running in speed skis. Gotta work on those starts, too!
After the first few days of powder skiing, the snow compacted and the real training commenced. We skied 7 days in a row, due to the weather forecast (it's very windy today, and it's supposed to rain tomorrow), and the snow conditions just continued to improve every day. We've been training both Super-G and Downhill, getting some good goggle tans, and even got to go sledding for dryland one day...
It's been fun to get to hang out with a few younger girls -- Trish and Alice. They've got such good energy, and are always down for an adventure. Now that Trish is gone though, and we're back down to a team of 2 athletes, it's certainly a bit strange and sad. Don't get me wrong, I've loved getting to know Alice, but being the oldest by 8 years and not having my OG friends around is difficult. I miss Jackie. I miss Alice McKennis. I miss Stacey. I've spent so many years with them, and it's just a different scene without them around. Knowing that Stacey won't ever come back (unless I can talk her into it) is such a strange feeling. It's funny, ski racing for this long, moving through different generations of skiers and having to get to know new athletes -- first I was the young one. I was nervous and intimidated, trying to be a part of a group of older, close-knit girls. They seemed so cool and fun. And now I'm the old one.... I wonder how I look to the younger girls? Unfortunately I must not seem part of a close-knit older-girl club, since I'm the lone wolf currently. I hope I'm not intimidating, and I also hope I don't look too washed up. But... one thing I've learned as I've grow older is to not give a shit. Turning 30 was so refreshing. I thought, "I could be sad about growing old, or I could view this hill as an obstacle I've overcome and move forward into the world of not caring what people think." I'm trying to embody the second option, and I'll admit sometimes it's tough. But if I mope about growing old, being washed up, and getting wrinkles then I'm definitely going to miss some of the greatest moments of my life. I want to be here! Right now! To seize this moment, this day, this breath. That is something I've gotten so much better at as I've aged, something that I am so grateful for: presence. If I live dwelling in the past or worrying about the future, I am missing what's happening right now. SO! Screw it. Screw what people think. Screw what happened before, what happens next. Of course I'm going to die, we all are. It's happening right now, as slowly as it may seem.... so we might as well enjoy this shit while it lasts. Cause it's not going to last forever.
The DH course, looking glorious in the sun -- man I love this place!
messing around with the girls on our snowmobile :P
not much beats a hot tub on a powder day...
It was Alice's birthday the other day... and it was so much fun to celebrate all day! We had a fun day of SG skiing (although the lights were out), enjoyed some coffee, a sweet sledding dryland session, presents and cake at meeting. It was a day filled with activities and, although it was exhausting, I had a blast. I love celebrating other people's birthdays with them! It's so fun to forget your to-do lists for a day and simply enjoy each other's company. There's something so nice about birthdays, especially your own...nothing really gets to you, you can allow yourself to be happy regardless of your circumstances. Since the day I turned 30, I've tried to remember that feeling and bring it into the rest of my life as well. How refreshing!
We've only got a few more days of training left here, and then it's time to head back home for a few weeks before the snow falls in Colorado. I'm excited to spend some quality time at home in Oregon to watch the leaves change and fall. For now though, I'm focused on the next few days of training and getting the most out of the rest of my time here. The race season is approaching so quickly, as per usual, and I'm starting to get those jitters again! My body is feeling pretty good and I'm feeling more and more ready every day.
I'm currently working on a film-photo blog post, so stay tuned for that. Thanks for checking in! Enjoy the last of fall, because winter is coming.... :)
Flying again feels nice. Getting back on the speed skis is pretty sweet, too. It's been sunny and very very warm down here in El Colorado since we arrived 6 days ago. We jumped on the GS skis for our first day on snow, then hopped right into full-length SG training at 12,000 feet.... talk about a good leg and lung burn! Since then we've done another day of SG and two days of DH, but the snow is melting quickly, so it's time to move down to Coralco for our last week of training down here.
My dad came down to join us during our time here in El Colorado, which has been so nice! He's been cooking us breakfast every morning (at 6 am) and helping to carry skis, gates, whatever else my coaches have needed help with. It's been wonderful. The new Stöckli skis are AWESOME and I am so psyched on my new setup. I haven't begun any boot testing yet, but am still working on figuring out which model of skis I like (so far I really like them all). It's been tough with the lack of snow -- there are countless small rocks all over the speed track, so I haven't been able to get many new skis on the snow yet. It sounds like there is a bit more snow down in Coralco, where we fly to tomorrow, so hopefully we'll be able to get all the skis out down there and do some more testing.
Aside from chasing the snow, we've been chasing sunsets and condors. The colors while the sun goes down are insanely gorgeous (thanks to smog): the hillsides light up, the snow turns pink, fires are ignited on the horizon. And the birds! Apparently there were condors nesting on our rooftop: we could see them landing and hear them scratching up there, and one of the girls heard baby chirps. What an amazing creature!
Although Condors don't have the longest wingspans, they are the largest flying bird (considering their combined mass and wingspan)...and they are incredible to watch! There were 5-6 flying near our apartment every day, and they would glide so close to our balcony that we could hear their whooshing flight sounds. Their wings may be huge, but their body mass is almost more impressive -- they've got some serious thunder thighs!
There certainly was no lack of sunshine. Unfortunately it's burning up our precious white livelihood, so it's time to go!
Peace out El Colorado... Coralco, here we come! Seeing as there's a selfie above, I guess this is the time to direct you to my blog post on self portraiture. I did a self-portrait project in my large format film photo class this spring, and did a lot of deliberating about "selfies," so click on this link to read more. TTFN.
Something I haven't done, as far as my blog is concerned, in quite a long while. But it feels right to get back on and update y'all, as I simultaneously get back on snow down here in New Zealand.
Let's rewind a bit.....
After my racing season (and my rest month) concluded at the end of March, I headed over to Eugene, OR to attend University for the spring term at U of O. I took a healthy (possibly too large) load of art classes: Letterpress, Digital Art, Metalsmithing, and Large Format Photography. Oh, and I also took a Modern Dance class -- which was incredible. I loved ALL of my classes so much, and became even more confused about which art medium is my preferred one... Large Format Photography was potentially my favorite class. I had a BLAST working with 4x5 inch sheets of film, loading and unloading in the dark room, developing and processing film, and getting a bunch of digital images out of the process (as well as some very large prints). The freedom I felt with that giant camera was pretty amazing: even though it was absurdly heavy and burdensome, I felt so energized having the control over light, detail and image while staring through the ground glass. And the images! Were! Insane!!!! The quality you get from a sheet of 4x5" film far surpasses anything I've seen from a digital camera of any kind. I will insert a photo here that I could blow up to an 8 by 10 foot print and would still have incredible quality and clarity:
( my final project was focused on the self-portrait, or currently, the "selfie..." )
I am now working on writing a blog post about self-portraiture and self-portrayal via social media and the internet, so more of my photographs will appear with that post... My other classes were just as intriguing, inspiring, beguiling, and enjoyable. Letterpress is an extremely old technique where you lay out the lead lettering, letter-by-single-letter, on a printing-press bed and roll out one print at a time. It is a very methodical, time-intensive, and intricate way of printing words. You can also print images, which is a technique I utilized for my final project, using a digital copy and photoshop to create a polymer plate that is printable on the same press used for lettering. Here are a few photos of the book I made for my final project:
I also made a book for my final project in Digital Art. I know...that sounds strange. But, the title of the digital art class was actually, "Print Media Digital Art," where we studied and rendered digital art that is presented in printed form (a little photography, some comics, and even 3d printed objects). So all of the projects intermingled tons of digital work and a little hands-on time as well (which I really enjoyed). We created a large 1-page comic spread, a product box based off of a social-critique of a company logo, and finally, an artist's book:
( mine was a 2-part choose-your-own-adventure book.... )
I created many metal objects in Metalsmithing (which I struggled dearly with), but have no good images of them. I also danced my face off, but again have no decent portrayals of that...
When the term wrapped up, I took off on a road trip with Tommy up through Alberta and British Columbia. By the time I got out of school it was the middle of June, and I was ready for another adventure. We have wanted to buy a camper of some sort for a while, and finally found a camper-trailer that is perfect. It's called The Cricket, and I'm obsessed... Anyway, we began our trip in Oregon, and took a few days to drive up north to Alberta for a backpacking trip in the Canadian Rockies (Banff National Park and Assiniboine Provincial Park) -- hiking up to the base of Mt. Assiniboine and experiencing some spectacular views, wildflowers, and moments in the wild.
( photograph courtesy of Tommy Ford :P )
That backpacking trip is definitely up there on my list of favorite vacations. It was so wonderful to turn off my phone for 5 days, too. I did have a phone out there, with no service, but only so I can capture the beauty around me. I took quite a few 120 film photographs as well, but those have not been developed yet....
After Alberta we traversed over to BC with the Cricket and spent a few days with my grandmother. Then it was off to Seattle for a quick visit with Tommy's physical therapist, and back to Bend the day before the 4th of July. Then...it was the 4th of July! Which was fun, exciting, hot, all of the Bend things. Red, white and blue. It was a good few weeks at home in Oregon before heading down here to New Zealand. Lots of river/lake dips, mountain bike rides, gym sessions, and tacos. Family time and friend time. A hot, heavy sun, a little smoke, and lots of ice cream. Yum.
( speaking of ice cream...a shot I took at the Remarkables while skiing there a few days ago )
And now I'm down here, turning on creamy ice. And I'm not mad about it. My team (the women's speed team) isn't down here, I'm just traveling with Tommy and his team -- spending some more time with my skis on my feet. I feel like I missed so many miles last summer coming back from my injury. I have barely free-skied since I did my return to snow (other than fairly slow, controlled "free-skiing")...I had to hop back into gates pretty quickly. Which was fine, it was what I wanted to do to get back to racing last winter...but I really did miss letting loose out of the gates. So, I'm doing a bit of that now: some drills, some fast skiing, some FUNdamentals. Bah.
It's been great to follow some GS boys around. I've even skied on Slalom skis a few times. Not that I liked it.... wayyyyy too many turns! But, I think it was good for me. I need some more turns. Some more wind in my face, some more bumps, more terrain, some variable conditions. I need some more time to work on my skiing, on my confidence, on myself.
So far, it's been a good bit of work. And I'm excited for more...so here we go...
a delicate season
(a double-exposure I took on 120 film this year in Cortina, Italy)
Winter. My winter. This ski racing season. That, for me, is now over. It feels weird. I am still having a hard time believing and accepting it. Although it came and went faster than any other season of my career (I've only been skiing since mid-October, and am now done at the beginning of March...), it has crawled slowly by. Maybe I just don't remember my feelings from past seasons being so intense, but my emotions were all over the map this season. They were stronger than usual. I cried in the finish of almost every single race. I dealt with massive amounts of fear -- fear for my safety, fear of failure, fear that I was making the wrong choice...
Fear. Maybe I was returning to skiing too soon, like so many people said. I knew I was strong, but...my knee... They say the ligaments aren't fully healed until 18 months after surgery. And my consistent pain kept me aware of this: I am still not 100%. I am still not fully healed. Yes, the brace I wore gave me more confidence, but I knew all along I was taking a risk. I suppose I have always been aware of the risk, but after this terrible injury I so badly did not want it to happen again, now knowing what it entails. Just desperately not wanting to go through it all over again.
So, mostly I played it safe. I was afraid to take risks, to let it go, to look for speed. And I knew my results would suffer, which they did, but...I made that trade-off. It's done now. I cannot go back. Nor do I want to...to endure it all again would be too much. And, anyway, I am here. Healthy. Healing. Moving forward...
I know that the next time I get back on my skis I will be in less pain. I will be more healed, more willing to learn how to take risks again. There will be fewer questions from people around me, less doubt. More confidence in my body, in my self, in my capabilities.
I know I shouldn't let other people into my head...but it's so hard. For one, there's the science. "No one has done this before..." so what? Limits are pushed, boundaries are broken, history is rewritten every single day. Only the bravest of us all can believe in impossible things. Did I believe? I'd like to think so. Does the self-doubt, the questioning, counteract the trust? Does whole-heartedly believing in something necessarily omit critical thinking? Does this make the dreamers stupid, foolish, naive?
There were moments this season when I truly believed I could do it. I could ski well, ski fast, take risks, and compete with the best again. Like in Val d'sere, where I got 8th in my second race back. Like a few days in training, when my old skiing came out and I had the times to show it. But then there were the darker days, when I let opinions and doubt and preconceptions hold me down. I do not blame others for this. I listened. I care what other people think....and maybe I'm safe because of it. Again, I made the trade. Maybe it was a smart one, but I'll always wonder....
How does one forge their own path? How do you stop letting other's opinions affect you, without dismissing people completely? Is this why geniuses are so often lonely? Maybe, it's because they can't connect to other people. Because others don't believe in their dream, see the dreamer as impractical, and don't feel they can relate. Maybe the dreamers connect on another level. An unspoken one. A connection the rest of us cannot feel. Physically, a lonely connection. But, intellectually or spiritually, a meaningful connection. Doing something different. Doing something good. Progress and hope. The things that allow us to keep going. The magic, the impossible. The heart of it all....
Whoa. This really makes me think...who am I? Am I the dreamer, or the muggle :) ?
I'd like to consider myself a knowledgeable dreamer. A dreamer well-versed in their field. A clumsy scientist, maybe. A silly ski racer. It doesn't matter what I do...I will always dream of more, of a better future. Always, always. Because I believe in it. I know what's out there, but I also know there is more. We just have to do some digging. Digging, and believing...
Anyway, back out of those depths! Now that my ski season is over I can pursue some of my other passions: taking photos, writing, creating, learning. I'm on a train to Prague, currently, with my journal, my two cameras and my book, ready to explore and get lost in an unknown city. I'm signed up to take classes this spring, and I'm so excited to have some creative direction and deadlines, a darkroom and homework. I honestly love homework -- sitting in a cafe, drinking a cup of tea, drinking the world of a textbook, writing with a purpose, sketching a future project...yum. I can't wait. But I've got a few weeks until then, and I plan on taking so many baths and photographs and pressing the keys on my piano. Enjoying the transition to spring and wandering aimlessly... dreaming all the while...
OLYMPIC BLOG : FINALE
So. It is over. It's a strange feeling, after so much excitement, hope, hype and anticipation. The Olympic Games have come to a close...
(fans in the stands for the Ladie's DH at the Jeongseon Alpine Olympic Speed Center)
Closing Ceremonies were so much fun. Sort of similar to the Opening Ceremonies, but more relaxed. Everyone had completed their competitions and the pressure was off. You could see joy in the eyes of many athletes. Sadness in others. Disappointment and awe. Inspiration and exhaustion. That is something so special about the Olympics: everybody's emotions are at an all-time high: in full swing and more apparent than at other times during our competitive seasons. Tears are shed in victory and in loss. One thing I love about this is the lack of shame. Because everyone watching knows how important it is to the athletes, the tears are forgiven. Accepted. Expected, almost. The Olympics bring out emotion in people that you didn't know they had. They bare our truer selves and bow to those people, those realities. They bring out the best and the worst in us all and expose it all for the world to see. There is nothing more raw than that.
(the crew at Closing Ceremonies)
There was definitely an apparent sadness at Closing Ceremonies. Sadness that the Games were over... the friendships made and ones to come were now put on pause. Our competitions were completed, our chances were over. But there was the joy, too. Pressure was lifted, and that relief was also felt. There were many smiles, lots of dancing and laughing and cheering. The torch was extinguished and we all said our goodbyes to that flame -- at least for another 4 years.
There were many really wonderful acts at the Closing Ceremonies -- musicians, dancing, fireworks, light shows and speeches. There was even some K-pop! I mean, how could there not be, really?! We were all wondering when it would happen. I was surprised, actually, that there was no K-pop in the Opening Ceremonies. We danced and hugged and said goodnight to new friends and goodbye to the Olympic Spirit.
(Alice Merryweather and I, walking together)
(Linds getting a ride)
(K-pop dancing was pretty awesome!)
(Stacey and I are sad it's over)
What an amazing experience! I feel so lucky to have gotten to witness the entirety of the Games: from Opening all the way through to Closing Ceremonies. Attending events, staying in the athlete village, touching the ocean -- I am walking away satisfied. Knowing I soaked it all in. I gave it my all. I enjoyed every moment -- every moment of awe, every moment of pain. I enjoyed representing my country and have actually wrote a little blog post on that here. I embraced my nerves, my teammates, my curiosity, and tried to make the most out of all of it. So much is put into the Olympics -- by everyone. From the athletes to the volunteers to the organizers and coaches. It's hard to express actually how much work goes into it all, and easy to understand why we are all so exhausted now. I feel like I could sleep for days....
(....team is everything)
(also so nice to have family in Korea! thanks Mum & Dad.... and thanks for the photo, Kevin)
But, I've got another World Cup race this weekend! Whoa. That came up quick. Although I feel desperately ready for spring and a long, well-needed break, I am going to push through and see how things go this weekend.
(pulling into the finish...)
Thank-you so much for all of your kind words, love, and support. The good vibes I felt from all around the world, notes of encouragement, emails and support I have received over the past 3 weeks have been some of the highlights of my Olympic experience. The world really does come together, joins hands, and walks as one. I guess sport is capable of much more than it seems to be on the surface... (more on this topic here)
Anyway, thanks for joining me on this crazy journey! I hope you enjoyed following me through the races and my personal experiences/thoughts during these Games. If you have any feedback, I would love to hear -- click here and scroll down to take my survey! Thanks again, and, until next time.... Peace out, Korea :)
OLYMPIC BLOG : day 15 (depending on your counting method)
(in the finish area of the Alpine Team Event today)
I made a rule (now that there's only one day of these Games left).... I am only allowed to spend 30 minutes on these blog posts daily. Otherwise I'll spend hours editing photos, rewording sentences, and checking for grammar mistakes. So, get used to the typos and boring pics cause you've got a WHOLE more day of them!
This morning started off with a nice breakfast in the Athlete Village. Although the food here isn't the most delectable (some I find to be inedible, but mostly just weird), the people watching and interactions that happen in the dining hall every day here in the athlete village are spectacular. To see individuals band together to represent their home countries -- whether they stand for their current political situations or not, whether they like each other or not, whether they even live in the country they're representing -- is certainly something special. For me, personally, I do not like to wear the same clothes as everybody else. When I had a uniform for part of my elementary education I was infuriated by the limits put on us to express our individuality. I HATE looking like everybody else. I don't want to stand out too much, but I don't want to be just another cattle in the herd.... but, here. At the Olympics? I wear my Team USA gear with pride. I can't even really express why. Cause it's ridiculous. It's awesome. It's awfully loud and I will never wear it again so I have to take advantage of the time I have here, now. Also...because it connects me to other humans. I see someone walk past me in the same gear and it gives us a reason to relate. To connect. To chat. And then I see someone walking past me with Belarus gear on and I follow them for a bit so I can figure out what event they're competing in. Maybe I'll go watch them race? Maybe we'll trade pins. Maybe we'll trade stories.
(at the Olympic Park near the Hockey arena tonight after the Bronze medal game)
Anyway! After some random conversations, people watching and pin trading, we headed up to Yongpyong to watch the Alpine Team Event. It is quite a task to take public transportation around here. A task, but a feasible one. Really, it's not that hard...it just takes some planning, timing, and...time. Quite a bit of time. Getting around from venue to venue takes up much of your day here in Pyeongchang. But it's worth it to see all the sights!
It was really cool to check out the tech venue. Definitely a different vibe than we had over in Jeongseon (the speed venue)...it seems a bit more central here and slightly more accessible. Although, the shuttles, chairs, and gondolas we had to take to get to the finish were a bit excessive.... So fun to watch the team event live, though! What a blast! Then it was off to the Haven to do a core workout, grab some lunch at the P&G house, and back to the Village.
Then, after a lot more planning and transportation organizing, we made it out to the coastal venue to watch the Bronze medal hockey game! What a freaking blast. It was fun to root on a team I feel connected to (Canada), and to be so close to the action! Fun fact: my grandfather played for the Canadian hockey team in 1952 when they won Olympic Gold in Garmisch! So, obviously, I had to root for them. Luckily it wasn't Canada vs. US....then I would be torn.
Before the hockey game we had dinner at the Austria house...which was actually quite incredible. What a show they put on there! And the food was delicious. Yum. We found a cab back to the village here in the mountains, and I'm finally in bed (it's 2:28 am). Tomorrow we have to be out front with all our bags packed at 9 am, so I have to get up early.... aaaaand, my half hour is up. Goodnight!!!
OLYMPIC BLOG : day 13 or 14 (I think but I'm becoming slightly confused)
I'm not totally sure what day of the Olympics this is, but I DO know that the Games are nearing their end. We went up and watched the slalom run of the Super Combined yesterday, which was...interesting. The fact that there were only 22 girls who started was very strange. It almost seemed dead in the finish...there were very few fans in the stands, not really much cheering or excitement down there.
Alice Merryweather did get to sit in the leader's box in the finish for a few seconds,which was pretty exciting. I mean, she was winning the Olympics there for a hot sec! It was cool to see Mikaela win another medal as well...silver this time! Unfortunately, Lindsey went out in the slalom after having a killer fast run in DH -- she was winning by almost a second! It was fun to be a spectator and feel the race energy from a different perspective: not as much stress, pressure or anxiety. Just pure magic.
That was the extent of my excitement yesterday, as most of the rest of my day was spent organizing and packing. We have so much gear here, it's unreal. All of our usual gear doubled, basically, with all our Team USA swag: jackets, pants, duffels, shoes and boots. Hats and long underwear, mittens and tote bags. Balaclavas and frilly gloves. You name it. It was a lot to sort through, and made me feel so lucky to be given so much incredible patriotic swag. Whoa.
(Standing in the men's DH start the other day)
Anyway, we had a busy 24 hours of moving and packing. After lifting weights this morning and loading bags we drove over to the athlete village, where we are staying for the remainder of the Games. It's fun to be in the village (Mountain village - Pyeongchang) and see all the other athletes wandering around: eating in the same dining hall, sleeping in the same quarters. I'm excited to spend a few more days here getting to know other competitors and their stories. The Olympic spirit is definitely alive here...you can feel it all around you.
More on that later...right now it's 12:30 am and i'm exhausted. We went down to the coastal village tonight to do an appearance on the TODAY show...so that was neat! Tomorrow I'm planning on heading over to the tech venue to watch the Alpine Team Event, and then likely will take off for the coast to check out some events there and hopefully touch the ocean!!! Will update again tomorrow. Now that I am more of a spectator, I will try to give you an idea of what it's like to be here in Pyeongchang, watching and experiencing the Games in real life! For now, though...sleep :) Thanks for reading!
I have been taking so many polaroids (and film photos) -- this one is from tonight on the TODAY show with the girls. Pictured from left to right: Breezy Johnson / Stacey Cook / Alice Mckennis / myself / Alice Merryweather
OLYMPIC BLOG : day 11 + 12
And so it's done. Yesterday was my last Olympic race here in Pyeongchang -- the Downhill. It was an exciting day. I was not nearly as nervous as I was for the Super-G (as I thought the SG would likely be my only race here)... I was actually quite relaxed. Calm, composed, excited, focused. I was actually so calm at one point I thought I might fall asleep. But I got it together, slid some snow down my neck, and came to my happy place. My zone. I found a certain peace in the start gate yesterday, knowing I had done everything I needed to do to prepare, knowing I could let go of everything else and come fully to the present moment. I knew the course perfectly: I knew where I needed to go, what line I needed to hit, how hard I needed to ski -- I knew exactly how to execute a perfect run. And I found solace in that. I found trust in myself. I trusted my plan, and I trusted myself to carry it out. It was one of the first times I actually fully believed in myself.
I pushed out of the start with a big heart and a clear mind. No, I did not have a perfect run. But I was on edge. I knew I was going fast on the top half of the course because I was catching more air than I did on the training run days. Also, I was slightly out of control. But when I got a little past half-way down the course, things started to slow down. Normally I get to that point and notice how my legs are burning, wondering if I'll make a mistake, hoping I can make it clean to the bottom. But yesterday was different. I knew I was going to make it down. I didn't feel out of control or that fast on the bottom, but I had a clean, strong run without mistakes.... so I crossed the finish line, wondering: could I be winning?
Hah! I wish....but, no. I came down in 9th. I started 10th. So I didn't have to do much math to know that I wasn't that fast.... And I was bummed at first. But then I looked up to see my family in the stands: to see my mum and dad, smiling and yelling and blowing me kisses. It's funny how calming that can be....makes me think about being a little tyke, losing my shit, and then looking up at someone who loves me. Oh, how things change when your perspective grows.
Ten and a half months ago I woke up from surgery a different person. Not only had I physically changed (I have 3 large scars on my right leg, lots of hardware and ligament replacements, a joint reconstruction, etc), but I was a new Laurenne. And I grew into that girl more and more over the following months, and have grown to where I am now. It was the most difficult time of my life, and I'm hoping it will remain that way, because it was so. incredibly. hard. I knew it would be a push to try and recover in time for the Olympics. After talking to my therapist many times and persuading my doctor to let me push the protocol (to extremes), we decided to go for it. If there were no complications anywhere along the way, it was slightly possible.
And, when I say slightly, I mean there was a very slim chance. On March 31st of 2017, I had a full ACL reconstruction (using my patellar tendon), LCL reconstruction (using my hamstring), lateral and medial meniscus repairs, tib-fib joint reconstruction (also using my hamstring tendon), poplitealfibular ligament repair and a peroneal nerve neurolysis. I also had a broken, but not displaced, tibial-plateau, which didn't need repair. I'm not sure how I made it through all of those months with only small physical setbacks and complications. My mental and emotional setbacks seemed more extreme, even, but to separate the two is pointless and silly. Anyway... I worked my ass off. For 6.5 months I spent 5-10 hours every day on therapy and in the gym. I took a few online classes to keep my mind off of the pain and help maintain some balance, but my main goal was to get healthy and strong so that I could compete this season and hopefully make it to the Olympics. It has been over 10.5 months since I have taken one single day off from taking care of my knee. I use an ice machine every day, at least 4 times a day. I do self-therapy when I don't have a PT around (which is rare). Not including conditioning and physical therapy, I spend at least 2.5 hours a day just on recovery, icing, and maintenance. It's a total pain in the ass. And I'm ready for a break.
I have to say...if it weren't for all of the people supporting me along this journey, there is no way in hell I would be here. My therapists who pushed me, my parents who held my hand, my friends who drove me to my appointments, my supporters who believed in me...I would not be here without you all. There were so many instances where I wanted to quit: just give up, walk away, and start a normal life. But all of the love and support pushed me to be better and try harder. I owe everything to you guys!
So. Even though I came through the finish nearly in last place yesterday (the one girl in front of me that I beat actually DNF'ed. hah!), I still came through the finish. I went out of the start! I raced at the Olympics. I have to keep pinching myself to remember that this is real. This is what I worked so hard for. And the experience in itself is the reward. I feel so lucky.
Yesterday was an amazing day...not just for me, but for my team. To come through the finish to hugs from my teammates, whether I had a fast or a slow run, is becoming something I savor every day of skiing. Knowing that we are in this together. We are dreaming the same dream, shooting for the same stars, struggling the same struggles. So to see them ski fast and reach their goals fills me with happiness. For Lindsey to medal yesterday was so important to her, and important to us all. Alice and Breezy also had incredible runs, and ended up 5th and 7th respectively. I came in 15th. But those places didn't matter. To be there together in the finish, supporting one another, was the most meaningful thing. In the biggest race of our careers, we still manage to stick together, as a team, and represent something that we believe in: attempting nearly impossible things, traveling to distant places, pushing the limits of our sport, pushing the limits of ourselves, and growing enormously. Together.
OLYMPIC BLOG : day 10
It's hard to believe that it's already day 10 of these Olympics.... The time moved so slowly at the beginning while we were waiting for our event, but now it seems like it has flown by. Is there really only one week left?
We had our second DH training run today -- and we were all gunning it: racing for a spot in the Olympic DH race. I had a great run going and was in 8th when I made a costly mistake at the bottom of the course. I lost a second with that mistake....such a bummer! More news on the DH race to come...
The course is in SUCH good shape. Of course, with each day we ski on it it becomes a bit more weathered and bumpy, but the snow is so responsive, it makes for quite the enjoyable ride. I can't wait to go down it again in the training run tomorrow! For now, I am feeling some exhaustion setting in and I really need a long long nap.... The amount of stress that you go through with big events is kind of unbelievable. Today was my 4th day on snow, and it felt like my 12th -- I was that tired. It blows me away how much more difficult everything is when you're exhausted like this: taking warmup runs, skating on the flats to get to the start, even just walking up stairs. The stress really wears on you. I think I felt it drastically today because we were racing for a spot. But I'm going into tomorrow with a bit more ease and relaxation, and I'm ready for an easy day of training.
(the start of inspection today)
I actually have no idea what other events happened today... when I got back to my room I collapsed into bed and slept/rolled around for a few hours before doing dryland / video / therapy / meeting and finally am getting around to updating this blog thing. It is a pain in the a** to update this everyday, but I'm kind of enjoying it actually. It's like writing in a journal, but you guys all get to read my dumb thoughts. And dreams. And fears. Fun!
We had craft night last night and I made a choker -- red, white and blue, of course! I'm going to pick up my guitar now for a few minutes, then head to bed. Thanks for reading! See y'all tomorrow :)
OLYMPIC BLOG : day 9
(the ultimate levitator -- Tommy Ford)
(a film photo of me and Tommy from this summer on the East coast -- it was FREEZING)
The men's Olympic GS took place today -- It was so exciting to see Tommy race and make some sweet turns! He said on his first run he was trying out some new equipment that worked well in testing, but it didn't feel good on the race hill. So he struggled to find his groove and switched back to his old equipment for the second run. Then he found something! There were some pretty incredible turns where he generated really good speed. Ryan Cochrane-Siegl skied amazingly, too -- placing 3rd in the second run and 11th overall. Nice job Ryan!
Over here on the women's side -- we got a good training run off today. The snow was nearly perfect (again), and the course was incredibly fun. There is so much terrain here...lots of air time! Which is a nice change from most of our other DH courses on the World Cup circuit. It's fun to flow over some rolls, fly through the air, catch your breath between the bumps and enjoy the ride. I can't wait to get back on that course again tomorrow....
(my cheering squad yesterday!)
Today was another really positive step for me. I have been struggling, especially in Downhill, to feel comfortable with speed. But, today...I actually enjoyed that speed. There wasn't one instance on the course where I felt a real, lasting fear creep in. It was all excitement, enjoyment, arcing and flow. Don't get me wrong -- it wasn't perfect -- but my run today was definitely important for my confidence in DH. I'm looking forward to another chance tomorrow. AND, tomorrow is the day we are racing for a spot in the DH race...I'm nervous, excited, but am not worried. Whoever is fast tomorrow deserves that spot. I will do my best, as I always intend, and let the rest play out as it will. If I don't race, I will cheer for my teammates and wish them the best!
(watching Tommy on NBC today)
In other news -- the XC girls came in 5th last night in their relay, and Nick Goepper earned a Silver in the Slopestyle skiing finals today.... I must say, Slopestyle Skiing is one of my favorite things to watch here at the Olympics. I suppose it's because I can relate to the movements, the speed, and the whole skiing then :) BUT, those guys have some mad skill. Check it out if you can! Anyway, I gotta get to bed -- I have a "race" day tomorrow, so need to get some rest. Thanks for reading!
OLYMPIC BLOG : day 8
PC: Clive Mason
That feeling you get when you look back: knowing how hard you worked to get to this finish line. Knowing you gave it everything you had. Thinking about how silly all the anxiety and fear and nerves were...realizing how lucky you are. Looking back and having no regrets. This is life, at the fullest. Feeling all the silly feelings and realizing how silly they are, getting caught up in things, stepping back, stepping UP. To such a huge, huge challenge.
Of course it would have been incredible to medal...but, for me, that's not what this is about. This is about growth, spirit and courage. This is about getting to know myself, coming to know what dedication truly means. Realizing the improbability of achieving something but going for it anyway... learning how to believe. Teaching myself to believe (which is no easy feat) that, despite all odds, I can do this. And having friends and loved ones by my side for the ride, for the journey. Embracing the shittiest days, full of tears, in hopes of the light they will bring to other less shitty ones. Doubting, trusting, pushing, fearing, collapsing and standing back up.
Today I skied the best I have skied since my injury. I know 15th doesn't sound that good -- but it was a tight race, in a stacked field, full of many impressive runs and great skiing. There was wind, too, which definitely affected many racers, but it's difficult to say who and how much exactly. But, anyway, I skied well. Which was surprising, considering my nerves at the start today. And all of the build up to this day over the last week, month, years. I did it! I raced in the Olympics :)
More tomorrow. I'm freaking exhausted. Thanks for reading!
OLYMPIC BLOG : day 7
I am not going to update much today, as I have a race tomorrow and it's been a crazy day of moving, skiing and organizing. But WOW am I getting excited to race tomorrow. I feel like I have been playing the waiting game for so long...like I have just been sitting on the sidelines, watching the action, waiting for my coach to put me in. Now it's time....put me in, coach!
Training today on the race-warmup slope was really good...the snow is hard -- icy, but not slick, very dense with nice grip. It was fun to be riding the gondola as the men were racing. Getting to see the action first hand was somewhat surreal...like it wasn't the real thing. It felt just like any other race up there. I didn't feel like it was THE OLYMPICS THE BIGGEST EVENT OF YOUR LIFE which was actually kind of nice. To feel like it is just another race was helpful to calm me down and put me at ease.
We stayed at the hotel near the base of the race hill last night and moved to our new accomodations this afternoon after skiing. It was nice to see a few more alpine events go off fairly smoothly today. There was a bit of wind, but it didn't seem to affect the races too much. Mayer won the men's DH and Hansdotter won the women's slalom. It is fun to see unexpected competitors atop the podium at the Olympics....it happens every time and always keeps things spicy and unpredictable. You never know...
So I'm going into tomorrow like that. Like: why NOT believe in magic? I've had to remind myself time after time how lucky i am to be here. When i get ahead of myself and think about getting an awesome result... after all i went through over the past 10 months, I am so so lucky to be here. I worked my ass off and achieved this incredible goal, so why would I put pressure on myself at all and not just go out there, let loose, and try to have some freakin' fun! Afterall, that's what this is all about, no?
OLYMPIC BLOG : day 6
So I mostly sat around watching ski racing all day: having anxiety and getting excited and hoping and waiting. I feel like we have been waiting here for so long... it's almost becoming torturous. I just wanna race already! Anyway, it was finally a (mostly) windless day at the alpine venues, and they got both a fair men's and women's race off today. Axel won the DH and Mikaela won the GS...it was awesome to see an American on the top of the podium. And to have two Norwegians atop the men's podium was pretty neat as well. Jansrud came in second, and Beat Fuez third in the men's DH. Mowinckel was second (yeah yeah yeah!) and Brignone was third in the women's GS. Congrats guys! In other news...Jessie Diggins came in 5th today in the 10k. Sadie Bjornsen was 15th, Kikkan Randall 16th and Liz Stephen came in 30th. There are still more XC races so keep an eye out for these ladies, cause they have been killing it this year.
Men's Snowboard Cross happened today as well -- I highly recommend watching the event here in Pyeongchang because the course is insane. The amount of time those guys are in the air is ridiculous...looks like a difficult, fast and fun course. The American boys took 4th (Nick Baumgartner) and 5th (Mick Dierdorff)...coming so close to the medals!
I mostly sat around with Tommy all morning, packing my million bags and getting ready to move over to the speed venue this afternoon. Finally...race day is just around the corner! Alice and I just arrived at the speed venue and are getting ready to do some training and free skiing tomorrow to prep for the race on Saturday. Nerves nerves nerves!
Tommy and I had a nice Valentine's Day yesterday. We went on a walk and went out to Korean BBQ -- a real cultural experience in which there was no English menu or English speaking staff so we mostly used hand motions and they brought us whatever they wanted. It turned out to be delicious: pork belly and beef cooked to perfection, kimchi and marinated onions, some sort of incredible mystery sauce and sprouts, flavorful chives and delicious lettuce and kale to wrap it all in. Yum.
(some sculptures we found on our walk)
All in all, it was a nice week of training. We were staying in an interesting and extravagent Korean casino hotel...surrounded by restaurants and boardwalks, sculptures and sights. But I'm so glad to be at the speed venue now. It's time to get down to business!!!
(some newer temples built near our casino hotel)
OLYMPIC BLOG : day 4 + 5
(I met some little local rippers yesterday)
Well...they finally got an Alpine event off yesterday here in Pyeongchang! The men ended up shortening their DH run of the combined race, and it was definitely windy, but it looked like there was some fun to be had out there. Our best American was Ted in 5th, who had a pretty impressive Slalom run. There was too much wind today to run the Women's Slalom -- so it has been rescheduled to the 16th, the day before the Women's Super-G race (the one I'll be in!).
(and found some pretty cool snow sculptures at the bottom of the hill. Rarr.)
On other fronts: the Women's Snowboard Halfpipe final happened yesterday, and Chloe Kim pulled off 3 incredible runs to take gold. It was really impressive and inspiring to see her absolutely send it on her third run, even though she didn't really have to -- she already knew she had won. Her victory lap was the most extraordinary and highest scoring of them all... so cool. Ariel Gold came in 3rd, too! And the men had their Halfpipe final today as well. Sean White had a great first lap, fell on his second, and then threw down a spectacular third run to take gold. Ben Ferguson, from Bend OR (my home!) also had some awesome runs in the Snowboard Halfpipe Finals. If you haven't seen Sean's or Chloe's runs, I highly recommend watching them. So impressive! It blows my mind that these athletes can throw such big tricks; I can't even count the number of flips or twists they do each jump, I'm not sure how they keep track at all. Talk about proprioception and body awareness....whoa. It was really exciting to see Sean White come back 8 years after his last gold medal and show how his experience and age have improved his skills (and even his passion and determination). It was nice to see an older athlete, especially in such a new sport with many teenagers competing at the highest level, show up and win. Having Jessie Diggins make it to the Final in Cross Country last night was really inspiring as well. She tied the best American finish in an Olympic XC Sprint event with 6th...congrats Jessie! So nice to see a smiling face and some sparkles out there! The American Women's hockey team moved forward yesterday as well...
We've had some really great training over the last few days here with the Women's speed team. It has been nice to keep our distance from all of the events and craziness going on around the Olympic venues. Although I would like to soak up the action, I am enjoying the peace and calm. We will move over to the speed venue tomorrow or the next day, in hopes of getting on the snow over there on Friday, the day before the SG race.
(I took this 120 film photo when I was here in Korea last year for the test events -- we visited some gorgeous temples. I hope we have time to do some more cultural exploring while we're here this year!)
Maintaining calm through the madness has been extremely difficult. Even though we are far away from all the events, I can still feel the Olympic spirit, the energy, and the excitement. Just knowing that my event is happening in 3 days makes my palms sweat and my heart beat just a little bit faster. Keeping my perspective is hard when everyone around me is getting antsy, nervous, intense. But I'm working on my breathing. I've been reading and playing guitar and moving my body to calm my nerves. Stepping back to appreciate the progress I've made since my injury last March... and honoring the simple fact that I made it here. To the Olympics! I'm working on allowing things to fall into place. To move at my own pace and disregard potential results completely. Reminding myself that results are fleeting, love and kindness are not. This sport is not what defines me. Yes, it is a huge part of my life, especially now, here, in Pyeongchang. But remembering that results always fade...medals deserve respect and win you huge amounts of attention, but they are not defining. They do not win you love...not the real kind, at least. Not the love that I want to relish and feel for the rest of my life. Not the kind of love that I want to remember when I'm on my dying bed. Still...it would be pretty neat. Oh, the internal battles. Anyway, Happy Valentine's Day! Thanks for reading!
(I am a middle child, after all)
OLYMPIC BLOG : day 3
(fun training today)
It was another windy training day today. The women's GS was canceled, fairly early this morning, due to extremely high winds at the tech venue. They rescheduled that race for the 15th, the same day as the men's DH has been rescheduled to. The wind was strong at all the venues today, but we got lucky: our chair opened, and we got some good Super-G training in.
It was insanely cold today -- 13 below, and with wind chill it felt like -23 C. BRUTAL. But I put on my face mask, my heated socks and boot gloves, my sleeping bag jacket, and survived. Whew! That was a close call. Tomorrow is supposed to be slightly warmer and less windy, and we're planning on training another day of Super-G. Fingers crossed that the men's Alpine Combined goes off, as it's supposed to be another windy one!
(a shiny training hill)
(the gym was very warm today, so I spent some quality time in there....)
On a broader spectrum, more Olympic medals were won today. In the Women's Snowboard Slope Style, 2 Americans were on the podium: Jamie Anderson in 1st and Jessika Jenson in 3rd. Other than that event, I am basically clueless about what went on today outside of our little training bubble. Not a whole lot to update on -- but keep checking back! Thanks for reading :)
OLYMPIC BLOG : day 2
(the Alices, in our new suits, training GS)
The wind blew strong and true today, preventing the men's downhill race from happening. But that was only on the Alpine side of things -- many other events competed today. While we were on a wind hold for training I got to watch the men's snowboard slopestyle, and I saw Redmond Gerard's winning run...which I was incredibly impressed by. I also saw his first two runs, in which he fell, and therefore had some serious respect when he stomped his final run, his final chance, and became the first American to win Gold here in Pyeongchang. So rad!
(all the pins I collected at Opening Ceremonies)
It was also pretty cool to see a Korean win the short-track speed skating last night. It always feels good to see the host country win, to see their pride and support and hear the cheers of the home crowd. Jessie Diggins (USA) was 5th in the skiathlon yesterday, the event where you switch classic/skate skis halfway through. So that was pretty awesome for US Ski and Snowboard.
(my pants falling down in training today)
We eventually loaded the lift around 1 pm today and got to train some GS in the wind. The surface was amazing though, and I actually took a lot out of the training. It is always good to train GS and challenge my movement a bit.... Tomorrow we are planning on training SG, but it's supposed to be pretty windy again, so we'll see what happens! The men already canceled their DH training run tomorrow, and have shifted their events around quite a bit: they are planning to race Alpine Combined on the 13th, DH on the 15th, and SG on the 16th. The Alpine women are scheduled to race GS tomorrow, Slalom on the 14th, and then we start with the speed events on the 17th. I'll be racing in that one (I just found out for sure)! It's the SG, and DH training runs begin the next day (as well as men's GS).
I just ate Bibimbap in my room and am now ready for some rest and relaxation. See y'all tomorrow!
OLYMPIC BLOG : day 1
(checking out the athlete village
So I wrote a short update (see below) after I got back to my room in High 1 last night (where we are training for the next few days).... but, considering it was 2 am by the time I actually got in my bed, I couldn't really go into detail about the Opening Ceremonies. Now I will....
There was a lot of standing around, waiting, anticipating, pin-trading, excitement, and nerves before we actually went through the stadium on our walk last night. There was mingling with athletes from other countries, lots of snacking, chanting and wandering in the staging tent. It was so wonderful to see so many athletes of different shapes and sizes, colors and backgrounds, from nearly every corner of the world, all joined together in one place. I spoke to a few athletes from Nigeria, some from Norway, from Brazil and from China. Everyone had a gleam in their eye, and something about the night tells me that it wasn't the hunger for gold that made the experience so special. It was something so much bigger than a medal.
(from my seat at the Ceremonies)
I've always struggled to appreciate sporting events, and sports in general. It's easy to criticize our sport in particular: all of the travel and equipment is incredibly harmful to our environment, the competitions are seriously intense, and sometimes it seems like the winners are not 'good people:' trying to make a difference in this world and doing their part to inspire positive change. But last night I came to look at sports differently.
The Olympics are really the only world-wide event where every country comes together as equals, in peace, walking side-by-side. It brings together the best athletes in the world, regardless of their race, origin, sex, age, class, anything and opens up a stage for everyone to watch a peaceful game well-played. The President of the Pyeongchang Organizing Committee gave a speech at the Ceremonies last night and spoke about how the Games are not about winning gold, but about coming together, in peace, and taking part in something bigger. And that's exactly what it felt like last night: like I was a part of something bigger. Something intangible and indescribable that pulls at all of us. Every single one of us. Pulls us in the same direction, through the same suffering, in the darkest tunnels and the highest heights. Pulls us and keeps pulling, lightly, to a place we'll never arrive but can only dream of. And that pull is what not only makes us human, but unites us as one. Call it love, call it peace, call it spirit. I felt it last night....and that is what this is all about.
(with Tommy, in our seats. the stadium looked empty, but it wasn't! it was full(ish). I think.... the LED light screen at every seat made it deceivingly empty.)
quick O.C. update...
So that was exciting.... Also, it's 2:18 am. So I'll write more about this tomorrow..... But, for now, the Opening Ceremonies were incredible. They, once again, seemed unbeatable. Inspiring, friendly, joyous and humbling. It is so interesting to meet people from all of the other countries (some of which I have never heard), to come together as competitors, join hands and walk in peace. There was something so improbably hopeful about the Ceremonies tonight. It felt as if our differences could be overlooked, our wars ended, our faults accepted and our disparities resolved. What an amazing night! Of dancing, laughter, trading pins (so many pins), smiling so much my face hurt, watching insane fireworks, taking photos, holding hands, holding my pee until it hurt because I didn't want to miss a single second. And so many more wonderful things.
Julia Mancuso once told me: the energy you can take out of the Opening Ceremonies far surpasses the energy you will lose from attending them. And she was definitely right. Thanks Jules.
Okay, I know this photo is so corny, but I just can't help it!
We made it to Korea! Finally.... It seems like the entire season leading up to the Olympics has been revolving around this event. It has been mentioned at almost every World Cup race (for qualification reasons). I have been asked the question over and over, "are you going to the Olympics?" My season leading up to this point has been fairly mediocre, but given my injury, it has been more than I could have expected or asked for...
After blowing my knee out (I mean, really. blowing. it. out.) at the end of last season, I knew it was going to be a push to get here. I had to commit, grind, work my ass off to make it happen. I feel so fortunate and thankful to everyone that has helped me along my path: my surgeon, Physical Therapists, parents, friends, family, sponsors, fans (I can feel all the love and good vibes, even if we haven't interacted in person), etc. THANK YOU -- you are part of the reason why I am here. Anyway....back to my main point.
I am here! In Korea, at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Because of sponsor restrictions and media regulations we are not allowed to make certain posts, so I've decided to do updates on my blog here. Right here. On this page. So, starting on the day of Opening Ceremonies (February 8th for those in America, and early on the 9th for those of you in Europe -- check your providers for time tables if you want specifics!), check in regularly for updates on where I'm at, what I'm experiencing, how I'm feeling, etc. Yes, emotions will probably be involved. That's just my life. Regardless.... Opening Ceremonies are in two days, so I will be updating then! Check back here for an inside look into the Olympics. It's gonna be fun. Exciting. Terrifying. And incredible. See you back here soon!
As per usual...
I have been slacking on my blog. BUT -- I have been working on my skiing. Ya know...you win some, you lose some. It's insanely difficult to keep up with everything these days. Posting on Instagram, keeping up on Twitter, responding to 30 emails a day, not to mention trying to maintain a blog...It's exhausting! I have been keeping up with my Instagram fairly well, but have been trying to be easy on myself as far as everything else goes. I don't want to stress about it. I don't want the intention to write a blog post constantly weighing on my chest. So I'm not letting it.
But, now that I have a few minutes, I am sitting down to write a little snippet on the past few weeks....
So I've gotten back into the racing routine. After Xmas spent in Madrid and New York I headed to San Pellegrino, Italy to train for a few days before the World Cup races in Bad Kleinkirchheim, Austria. The training in Italy was superb...the races in Austria, not so much. The snow preparation was awful, and they ended up dumping tons of water on the speed slope just to get the snow to bind. After one canceled training run and one ultra-sprint training run, we ended up racing Super-G on Saturday and doing a full-length training run on Sunday morning before racing on the shortened track. It was icy. Bumpy. Dark. All of the elements that make races difficult were combined in those races in Bad Klein. It was terrifying...but I wasn't the only one that was scared. Every World Cup racer I spoke to in Bad Klein felt nervous and uncertain about the conditions and the track. But we ended up racing anyway...
I was unsure about whether I should race or not, given the conditions and the fact that it would be my first Downhill race back after my knee injury. But I decided, right when I stepped in the gate, that it was time. So I went for it. And...I don't actually remember much about my run. It was almost like I blacked out. The few things I remember were: getting late on a few gates, holding on for dear life through the bumpy traverse, and skiing around the bumps on the last gate. Also, I definitely didn't reach for the finish, which may have been the first (and hopefully last) time that happens in a World Cup for me. So...yeah! Quite the experience! After skiing timidly in the SG the day before, I knew I had to let loose a little in the DH. All I can say is that I'm so happy that I made it to the finish (mostly) unscathed. And the result (13th) was just a bonus...
Cortina was like butter after Bad Klein. Even though the conditions were slightly bumpy a few days when we were there, it paled in comparison to what we experienced in Austria. I actually had some fun! Although I wasn't incredibly fast, I got to experience my first run of Downhill without debilitating fear on the second day of DH racing in Cortina. And that was a huge accomplishment....starting to enjoy the speed again. Watching Jackie rip into 3rd was pretty spectacular as well, and of course seeing Lindsey back on top of the podium was incredibly inspiring. All in all, it was a good weekend :)
I'm on my way home to Oregon now....sitting in the Denver airport waiting for my flight. I haven't been home since Thanksgiving, so it will be nice to sleep in my own bed again. Even if it is only for a few nights.... I wrote a piece for a local Oregon paper on how I've grown to be a skier/my thoughts about the Olympics/some of my hopes and dreams. If you're interested in reading that, visit my blog (click here)! And....pray for snow in Oregon this week. I would love to do some pow skiing.... :P
Patience, young padawan...
So it's December. It's really winter. It is getting darker, days are getting shorter. The snow is falling and my breath is a thick fog in front of me. This time of year is always hard for me. I feel sort of low, like the world is spinning a little slower and I'm just getting a wee-bit smaller. I want to stay in bed in the mornings, when my alarm rings in total darkness. I find some solace in the bath, where I burn off the tension. My chest feels a little tighter than any other time of year. It's also a huge transition period for me, as I move from training to racing season. All the excitement and nerves often overwhelm me and I get caught up in thinking.
This year is especially tough. Today was the first World Cup Downhill race of the season, and I had to sit by and watch. The training runs went pretty well -- my skiing is strong and solid, but the fire just isn't there yet. Actually, I was completely terrified on the first training run here in Lake Louise: choked up and barely breathing in the start gate. Where I would normally tuck and look for speed I was standing up and skiing a bit passively. My body is over my outside ski, and I'm making good turns, but I am not charging like I used to.
I think it will come back: that hunger and desire to push myself and go faster. I haven't had much time on my DH skis, just a few days, so I am now waiting for that charge to return (likely with more training). Yesterday, in the second training run, I actually had some fun -- which was the first time I've truly enjoyed Downhill since my injury. It's funny how I have been comfortable training GS even though the event stole my knee health, my spring, my sanity for a while there. Now DH is the one that I struggle with. But I think the first step to finding the hunger for speed again is in the joy. And now that I know it's still possible to find that joy in DH, I'm almost ready to take the next step.
I will likely sit the rest of the weekend out (hopefully forrun!) and prepare for the rest of the month of skiing. I actually feel pretty comfortable on my Super-G skis, so am hoping to be ready for the SG races in St. Moritz this coming weekend. I am so close, and I am getting more antsy now that racing season has begun, but I know that my patience will pay off. I will just take things day by day until I feel it. Until I know I can get in the start gate and push myself again. One day it will come, and I'll feel the old hunger, the old drive, the old Laurenne: itching to go fast, to make great turns, to push my limits. It will come.
Downhill is scary.
I caught air yesterday...it was a lot, slightly unexpected, and scary AF. Not because I didn't think I could do it, but because it's been a while since I flew like that, and I didn't know how my knee would respond to the landing. The last two days of downhill have been an incredible test of strength (mental and physical), patience, and, most of all, fear.
It creeps in when I don't leave room for it or when I refuse to acknowledge it. I know I am strong. I am tough. I am a great skier. But I am so incredibly scared, for so many reasons. I am terrified of falling again (I realized this today), which I know is inevitable. I am frightened by the prospect of enduring the same pain I experienced 7.5 months ago. I am scared of my own expectations. And I am most of all fearful of the future.
I landed the air just fine -- it was jarring and it hurt but the pain dissipated with time, the foresight to absorb the landing (hah), and some therapy. I caught an edge twice today, in two separate runs of downhill, and scared the shit out of myself; almost hitting a fence and nearly tumbling down a steep pitch at 60 mph. But I put my pants back on and got back in the start gate, despite the voice of reason.
Sometimes I wonder whether to listen to that voice... Today is one of those days. Can I do this? I don't know. I want to say something inspiring and motivating and strong, but I honestly don't know. And that's something I'm becoming more okay with: the uncertainty. Just like flying through the air, not knowing if I'll land.
Back on track
Finally. It's true. It's really happening. I'm skiing again! I have been anticipating this moment for months and months. Through ups and downs -- plenty more downs than ups. Through pain and suffering, through sleepless nights and countless hours in the gym. This is what it is all for. This is it.
making my first arcs here in Coralco, Chile
The journey leading up to this camp has been insanely difficult. I am on a very short timeline, trying to get back to racing in time for the beginning of the season. Trying to be in my best ski-shape by the time the Olympics roll around. Hoping to make it. Hoping to be okay with not making it, if that's the way things go. Hoping for happiness, regardless of what happens. Hoping to ski when I'm 70. So many hopes, so much thinking, so many emotions. I (re)wrote the story of my accident, my journey, my processes -- check out my blog to read it. More to come on skiing...... here are a few photos (thus far) of my return to snow camp here in Coralco:
the dream crew! (minus Ales. he was off ripping downhill turns on my skis somewhere...)
the Araucaria trees native to this area are incredible. this one is over 1,000 years old!
Ohhhhh, the stress...
When it feels like you have a million things to do....but, really, you don't. In fact, if you did none of those things in your head, on your list, life would go on, just fine, and you can be happy either way. It is a choice. The options, the boundaries, the mind -- they are all limitless. The mind may be thought of as this small, limited thing. The brain IS, technically, pretty small, physically speaking. But the thoughts are not. The mind is not limited. At all. The expanse, the potential, the space is all yours to create. What you let stress you out is your choice. It is all up to you. And, today, I choose to be unbounded. I will push myself, of course, but I will refuse to let lists and tasks weigh on me and compress my breathing. I will be aware. I will remember. I will breathe, be here, be content. (a journal entry, 9 Sept. 2017)
Photos sans gas
Uhhmmm yep. It was a while ago. I'm so bad! I'm so so bad at keeping up. I want to get better...but maybe I just don't care enough? Maybe I'm not disciplined enough? Maybe I have too much going on? I'm not sure. Knowing that I want to make a post always weighs on me, yet I can't find the time to make it happen. It's just another thing I need to work on. With everything these days being so immediate and accessible I know that I need to update right when events are happening. Like, IN THE MOMENT. I know that I need to be more on top of this whole blogging/social media/twitter thing but I just can't bring myself to do it (in the moment). It's tough -- to be present, but to do my job. Figuring out how to make the two goals compatible is an enormous challenge. To be one of the best skiers in the world takes an insane amount of mental discipline and presence, yet also takes self-promotion and planning. Finding a balance. It's always the name of my game.
I wish that was me, but it's not (maybe some day). Anyway, I have finally compiled the best photos from my trip to Fiji and have put them together in a blog post! Check it out here. Thanks for your patience, love and kindness. Things I am working on myself :) Enjoy the photographs! I won't promise any posts soon, but I intend on writing about a few of the topics that y'all have suggested through my forum on this page. But if you have more ideas, please enter them below! Thanks for reading <3
PASTINGS IN A DISTINCT WAY
Sometimes I just avoid updating my blog because I have this weird idea in my head that it takes like 134 hours to make a blog post and it's SOOOOO daunting and terrible and will be the end of my happiness. I haven't really made time to write lately: there always seems to be something more important happening. Something pressing, something big. I don't know why I make writing hard. Sometimes I sit down to write and I can't figure out what I want to say. When I'm typing there's something creeping inside me that knows the words will be a representation of myself, and I want it to be genuine and true, but not too vulnerable. When I'm writing on paper it's easier, but things get scrambled and jumbled as I search for what to say and who I am.
But then I actually sit down to write on my blog and I love it. It's like picking up my journal and releasing something purring inside of me -- with a filter for other human eyes. I've been trying to write blog posts in my journals, but then I forget what I'm writing 'about' or 'for' and I loose the sense of structure and topic and stray into other realms. Sometimes it gets repetitive, sometimes it sounds so ridiculously cliché, sometimes I wallow in some dark shit. But both methods of release are delightful in their distinct ways. And combining them is satisfying in a whole different sense. Editing through tangible thoughts, drawings, pastings, is a wonderful way to let my instinct be accessible in a more cohesive style. For all y'all.
I wrote a journal entry on writing the other day, and how I need to do it more often. Find it here, on my blog, for some of my thoughts on, well, a few things. I'm heading up into the Cascade mountains today for some camping and general forest bathing, which is apparently a researched and widely-practiced activity in Japan -- mostly for sanity's sake. Which makes sense. I'm gonna sit in the trees and let them tell me what to do next. Or walk into the lake and just stare at the sun reflecting off the surface waves. Maybe I'll read a book, or even write in my journal.... Yeeeahahhhhhhhhhhh that's what I'mma do. Oh yeah, and I finally have all of those photographs from Fiji, so will post those soon. Seriously. I promise.
Since I finished my online courses 2 weeks ago, I have retreated from my computer a bit: my blog, social media, etc., while relaxing (for a week I was relaxing on Tavarua Island, Fiji!). It has been lovely. But, I want to follow through with my intentions on keeping up with my blog, updating y'all from time to time (at least monthly), and using this cyber space as a journal/outlet. I will not stop doing that, at least not yet! I just needed a short break....
But, now I'm back! I just edited a bunch of photos from Fiji, so I'm going to post a photo blog soon, but I'm looking for some philosophical topics to write more blog posts on. I am thinking about writing a post about our connection to nature -- and the necessity to get out into it in order to truly understand this connection. But I want to write more! I'm going to post a little survey below so you can give me some feedback.... let me know what topics (be fairly specific) you want me to cover, and I'll see what I can do. I'm looking for ideas. ANY ideas! It could be about cooking, philosophy, pain, the environment, whatever. What do you think?!
For now, I'll leave you with a few more pictures that I took while on Tavarua (and around, on the water, on a boat, on sandbars, etc) below. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday....and take the survey below the following photos if you have time! Much love.
close to perfection -- this wedding was incredible! so happy for these two!!!
the sunrises were insane. the pink in the background is the sunrise's reflection on the ocean
although I didn't get to do any myself, I witnessed some incredible surfers -- specifically on this wave (Cloudbreak)!
I could not get enough of the sunrises / sunsets ... more in my blog to come!
STRIVING FOR (im)PERFECTION
It's just what I do. I don't even realize I'm doing it most of the time, until I step back and look at my todo list for the day and see that it is full of tasks and wishes that could not even be accomplished in a week. Including, but not limited to: install a fence, paint a Mother's Day card for mum, book a flight to LA, call Amazon about bill, call Grandma, breathe, meditate, relax, take care of invoices, answer all emails, sign-up for summer classes, PT x2 for 2 hours each session, go on a short walk and take photographs, look at houses on Zillow on the Oregon coast, email Eirik, call Chelsea, email Patrick, call Allana, plan backpacking trip through Canadian Rockies, dinner with dad, etc. etc. etc. Okay, I'm sure you've had enough. Now you can see why I get overwhelmed. And, also, why I get so much done. And, also, why I sometimes get absolutely nothing done...or how I can accomplish a little part of a few tasks but never fully complete a single one (I get distracted by all the others). How I'm sleep-deprived, and how I'm strong. Why I cry all the time and why everything has to be in it's rightful place.
But I'm working through it all. These past 2 months have taught me so much about myself. They have taught me how and why I need to write, the importance of having friends, how to listen attentively (this is a work in progress), and how to drive with 2 feet. I have written down some contemplations on my blog, and would love to share my pains and pleasures with you. Feedback is always, ALWAYS welcomed and greatly appreciated. Thank-you so much for reading, and for standing by me while I chase impossible dreams. I feel your hopes and good vibes, always. Click here to read my blog post about pizza (it's not really about pizza).
MY FIRST STEPS
So it's been a while. It's been a hard, painful while since I had surgery. 6 weeks. What a journey! There have been moments of intense darkness: when I woke up for the first time after surgery. When I had debilitating anxiety before every therapy session for the first 4 weeks because of the excruciating pain I endured every time we had to bend my leg. When I felt alone, regardless of all the family, friends and love surrounding me. But there were also moments of brightness: when I held a baby goat and felt it's curiosity. When I received hand-written letters in the mail -- I could feel the concern and the hope. When I took my first steps, two days ago. It has been a scary, enlightening, and frustrating 6 weeks of countless peaks, pits, and plateaus.
I am now in Vail, CO, checking in with my surgeon and doing a week of therapy here. I'll head to St. Louis this weekend to see my sister graduate from grad school (in fine arts) and then home for a few days before a 6-week stint in Park City. Every day I make progress. And every day I have doubts. Read more about my contemplations of injury and life after skiing on my blog (click here). And, enjoy your Monday!
That means hello in Korean. The only other words I have learned are "Kamsahamnida" and "Butakamnida" which mean, respectively, thank-you and please. Oh, and yesterday an adorable little Korean woman taught me how to say "I love you" -- saranghaeyo. I would like to learn more, but I am struggling with just these 4 words/phrases. Also, I'm leaving on Thursday.... and I get to go home to Oregon! Hooray!!!
That's how I feel about going home. Even if it's only for 2 days. I haven't returned since X-mas, and I am SO pumped to sleep in my bed. To go to the natural food store, to deprive my senses in a float tank. To play piano and to be super jet-lagged. Yay!
The last few weeks really haven't been that bad. Well, there have been terrible moments. But there have also been moments of brightness... Let's rewind....
(actually this image was taken in Oregon. But anyway...)
St. Moritz /// World Championships: Heading into the races, I was unsure which events I would be skiing (apart from Super-G, the event through which I qualified for the World Championships team). On the first night upon our arrival, the coaches announced that I would be racing Stacey for the fourth spot in Downhill. Linsdey and Jackie had their spots secured through podiums, and Breezy had more World Cup points than either I or Stacey, so they put her in the third spot. Stacey and I decided that we wanted to race in the Super-Combined DH run, which we both found out we were racing in within a few days of the beginning of the World Championships events.
The first day of DH training was canceled, and we raced Super-G the next. It was a great course, and a good hill. I just held back a bit and wasn't quite aggressive enough -- A lesson I have learned countless times. So approaching the DH run in the Combined race, I knew I had to ski with more hunger. I let loose a bit and came down in 5th....but I still had the Slalom run left to race. Slalom is a difficult event to race when you have not trained. Especially because, in a race, you want to ski aggressively. You want to send it. You want to arc, to let go, but to do so in control when you haven't trained is impossible. But goddamn. It's FUN. My slalom races are always wild -- arms flailing, gates flying in my face, sometimes I get a binding to the bum. My lack of control is pretty much guaranteed, and I thrive in that turbulence. My run wasn't too bad. I had a few little mistakes, one big one on the flats, but I managed to make it to the finish and smile. I came in 15th.
The DH portion of the Combined race wasn't exactly fair. The sun was coming in and out. For Stacey, the sun was hiding. She had some bad luck, and that allowed me to get the spot for the Downhill race at World Champs. It didn't feel right to win that way. But people always say, "that's ski racing."
After a day off we were back on the course, this time for the Downhill race. I felt positive and confident after the Combined DH run, and I was committed to simply enjoying my day. No matter what. I have been working on coming through the finish and taking a deep breath before I look up at my time/place. Trying to embrace the moment, feel the energy and adrenaline, recount my run in a glance before judging it based off of the time. It is a very difficult task...I am not sure I accomplished this, because all I can remember from the finish that day was looking up and seeing that I was in the lead. Although I only started 4th, I knew it was a good run and I had some really good skiers start in front of me. Also, it has been a while since I've come down in the lead. I'm pretty sure this is the first time it has happened all year.... I didn't end up winning, but coming in 5th pretty much felt like a win after the beginning of my season had been such a struggle.
(that's what it felt like)
I had been planning on staying to race in the team event for a while, but as I was warming up for it (two days after the DH race), I blew my back out. Injuring my back in GS has been a common theme throughout my ski career, but doing it in the team event? That was new. When I look back, though, it makes perfect sense -- team event is similar to GS in the sense that your body position is practically the same, but the distances between gates are comparable to an open slalom course and you're not cross blocking. The turns are quick and the forces are high, and being unable to cross block drives you into a pinched position where your upper and lower body are drastically separated, generating significant energy and forces through your core and back. So. That's why it happened.
(getting a little loose in the Combined slalom)
Since Tommy was racing GS a few days later, I stayed and became a fan for a few days (while recovering from back pain and stiffness). It was perfect to stay in St. Moritz for a few days longer, because it allowed me to have access to therapy and other tools I needed to get back to shape for my races the next weekend in Crans Montana. After Tommy's GS race, we headed straight to Lisbon for a few days of rest and exploration.
Lisbon, Portugal: What an insanely magical city Lisbon is. The streets are all set in limestone cobbles, the building facades decorated with intricate, colorful ceramic tiles. It appears that the buildings were just set down randomly, in a maze of complex and beautiful patterns -- a grid system never seemed to exist. Some of the streets are wide enough for 2 cars, some wide enough for one, and some barely wide enough for a human body inching through sideways. There is beautiful graffiti throughout the city, stair-way-alley-things that lead to and fro, hills rolling every which-way, creating depth and intricacy to the landscapes. Also, there was ocean!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(playing in the sand)
We spent one day driving along the coast, exploring various beach towns and playing in the water. It was a short game, as the water was damned cold. But it felt so nice to get some sand in my toes, salt in my hair, sun on my skin. Yum. Although the beach was nice, Tommy and I both mostly felt pulled toward the city of Lisbon. Walking miles every day, we saw more of that city on foot than we could have possibly seen by car, trolley, bus or bike. We climbed so many hills and stairs, saw endless colors and alleyways, ate possibly the most delicious Mexican food I've ever had, wandered in the bustling dark and ate breakfast in our hotel's sun-drenched garden terrace. The temperature was in the 60's during the days and in the 40's at night. It was a perfect little sunny getaway, filled with lots of incredible food (and lots of time spent eating it), sore feet, and plenty of photo-taking. I brought my 120 film camera, so can only show you my phone photos here. But, actually, my phone takes quite good photos (Google Pixel). Below are a few glimpses into the character (or, what I perceived it's character to be) of Lisbon...
intricate tiling on the side of a building -- notice how there are not two identical tiles...
a neat stair-alley way
laundry drying in the sun and breeze
After recovering for a few days and taking a break from the racing scene, my back felt ready to ski again (walking is one of the best remedies for by back pain).
Crans Montana, Switzerland: I headed to Crans Montana for a pretty crazy weekend of weird conditions and racing.... The first day of racing was insane. While inspecting, we all thought the snow to be way too dangerous to race on. And when they started running the race anyway, it turned out that the course set was the real danger. It took not only ALL of the for-runners to fail (off the roll at the 4th gate), but the first 3 racers to do the same before they canceled the race and moved the start down. Not only did the first 3 racers fail, but 2 of the three crashed, and bib 3 ended up badly injuring her knee. Why does it take a disaster for the officials to reconsider a poorly-run race? What is the point of having for-runners if their opinions of the course are not taken into account? To restart a race (move the start down past the sketchy section) after one of the racers has fallen and injured themselves doesn't seem fair--if not everybody has the opportunity to restart, it isn't a just decision in my opinion.
Anyway, after they moved the start down I decided not to race anyway, given the conditions and decisions being made that day. It was a Super-Combined race, and I was focusing on the Super-G race the next day anyway....which I ended up skiing through a panel in. I just went a little too straight on the bottom section of the course and the snow was not nearly responsive enough to allow the line I took. That was some slushy, rotten stuff!
(I took the panel with me. heh.)
I ended up going out in the Slalom portion of the combined the next day, so all in all it wasn't a great weekend for me in Crans. But it sounds like I will have another chance to make friends with that hill next year....
Pyeongchang, South Korea: We flew out of Milan on Sunday evening after the 2nd Super-Combined race. It was a rush to make it to our plane in time, but it ended up working out fine and we were in South Korea before I could gather my composure. The bus-ride through the city up to the mountains gave me an idea of the lay of the land, but as the buildings petered out and the trees began to takeover it turned into a different place than I had imagined. Jeongseon was built solely for the purpose of hosting the Olympic Alpine speed events (possibly border or skier cross as well?), and the resort certainly felt temporary. There seemed to be only 2 established runs on the hill: the DH/SG race run, and the warm-up slope. The snow was mostly man-made, but the surface turned out to be great in the races -- icy and fast, but softening with the sun and somewhat forgiving. Set amongst thick deciduous trees and rolling hills (I saw no mountain peaks), it reminded me somewhat of Sochi, Russia
(enjoying a training run)
After two mediocre training runs I was ready to go fast again. I found some fire and ended up racing into 4th in the Downhill. Many people expressed apologies to me and asked if I was upset about the wooden spoon, but, honestly, 4th place is not really something I have ever been mad about (I have been there many times). I was starting to feel more confident on my skis, and it was my best result all year. Why would I be upset about that? Anyway, it's just a number... The SG was good the next day as well. I skied even better than I did in the downhill, but had a few mistakes and came into 6th place, another PB for this season. It felt good to finally get some good response from the snow after the tough conditions we had in Crans Montana the weekend before. (after a plane-ride, some procrastination and serious jet-lag, I continued to write this post in Oregon) There is something about the second half of the season that makes me faster. Maybe it's the increasing amount of sunlight (so much more happiness!), maybe it's the more spring-like snow, maybe it's just the fact that I become more accustomed to racing all the time and figure out how to push myself comfortably. I don't know. I'm asked all the time why my skiing improves throughout the winter and I honestly cannot answer that question. I feel that if I could, I would be able to take those answers and contort and time-warp them to utilize in the beginning of my seasons. Trust me, I'm working on it. For now, I'm not too upset about it because, well, it's the end of the season!
I'm headed to Aspen soon for World Cup finals, and am really feeling the spring vibes as the weather here in Oregon seems to be tricking us with it's warmth and sunlight. But I'm alright with tricks, and hope I can follow and catch them as they bring me through to the final races of the season. Even if it's snowing, windy, raining, foggy, I can feel the sun's path unbending and waking me in the morning with a sort of high-five. Like, "Yeah. I'm here and I'm gonna stay for a while, so come play."
Jeongseon / Pyeongchang, South Korea. Super-G race
How did I get here? Already, I am awaiting the trip to World Championships -- the races start next week. These past 3 weeks have been a bit of a blur, a fast ride, a little butt smack. Before these weeks of racing began I was excited, happy, hopeful and looking forward to being healthy and more consistent in my races. I was feeling good on my skis, ready to make the continuation from my last run of Downhill in Val d'Isere into the next in Zauchensee. Although I had lost quite a bit of weight and strength during my sickness in December, I felt comfortable on snow and was gaining strength back fairly quickly. It was time to get into the swing of 3 weeks of racing.
Then it dumped. We got absolutely pummeled with snow in Zauchensee, Austria, and after the first 3 days of anxiety, cancellations, and powder skiing, no one was convinced that we would race that weekend at all. The weather remained strange and inconsistent -- it was foggy, windy, snowing, cold, warm, damp, sunny. Although the powder skiing was insanely enjoyable, I was ready to get my race skis on and try again. We patiently awaited the clear, and finally pulled off a training run on Sunday morning, planning to do a race that afternoon. Even the training run was strange -- it started out cloudy and felt slow, and sped up throughout the race. Bib 50-something won the run. A few girls were injured in the training run, which was unusual given the ease of the course and the snow conditions. I'm guessing that was due to built-up nervous anxiety over the week, but who knows? Then came the race. It was fairly good weather: partly cloudy and a bit windy. The track was pretty smooth and consistent, considering the weather conditions for the few days beforehand. I skied really well, but didn't get lucky with the wind and was 43rd on the top section of the course. My turns were great, and I made up some time to be 4th on the bottom two sections of the course. Jackie took advantage of her bib and managed to pull off a great run, skiing onto the podium in 3rd place! That was really wonderful to see. I couldn't have been more psyched for her, as her skiing has been great this season and she's an awesome teammate. I walked away from that race inspired and ready to continue with my speed, excited to get to Garmisch and keep pushing.
Zauchensee, Austria /// PC: Christophe Pallot / Agence Zoom
Garmisch has often been a hill that I find my speed on. I connect with it somehow, feel comfortable on it. Coming into the race weekend I was looking forward to seeing what I could pull off. And then, in the second training run, I crashed at the top of the course, tumbling into the nets at 120 km/hr. It happened so fast, I can't even remember what the reason for the crash was. I thought I likely caught an edge in some soft snow, and went down from there. Whatever it was, it was scary. And it freaking hurt. It has been a while since I've hit the fence that hard, and it was a reminder about the risk I take every time I push out of the start. I was basically sore from head to toe -- I had some bad whiplash, a very sore arm and back, both of my knees were tight and sore (and somehow miraculously still attached), and my right ankle was giving me some serious problems for a few days. When I stood up from the crash, I noticed that my right boot was half-way off...a very strange thing considering how tight I buckle my boots when I ski. But the soreness wasn't extreme, and I was able to get back in the start gate the next day for the DH race. To get up from a crash and ski with calm confidence is always difficult, especially in Downhill. Not only was I sore and achy, but my mentality was pretty weak. Not being able to actually complete the training run also had an effect on my confidence the next day.... I only made it 18 seconds into the course before crashing. The conditions changed pretty drastically from the first training run to the race day. The course was much faster, and the snow was icier and bumpier. But I remained composed, even though I was terrified inside. It's funny how you can trick yourself into a mental state that you know you can't maintain. That morning during inspection I was certain that I could ski well, confident and aggressive. And then 5 minutes before I clicked into my skis to push out of the start, a wave of doubt swept over me and I became afraid, worried, resistant. These feelings remain today, although I am learning to keep them at bay and move with them slowly. That day I skied scared. I couldn't find the front of the ski, I didn't want to search for speed. My body position was passive, and my mind was not in race mode. Even in the Super-G the next day I struggled to find the drive to ski fast. That weekend in Garmisch was really hard on me, as it was disappointing, scary, and a huge endeavor to continue to believe in my skiing and trust myself. It takes so much energy to wake up every morning and not succumb to uncertainty when your positive outlook and trust just don't seem to work. This is where I have been struggling: to keep believing, despite disappointing results, adversity, fear, doubt and the habit of self-pity. It is so easy to feel down, to feel sorry for yourself, to be angry at the world when things don't go your way. Staying positive and hopeful in the face of this is an enormous challenge, and I'm so enlivened by this prospect (though somedays I really want to give up). To be happy, regardless of results. To see every day, every run, every turn, as a step, a progression. To look up at your time and breathe, knowing you are in the perfect place. To keep believing.
Without a substantial basis for this belief (taken from results), I continued with it into the races in Cortina this past weekend. The training runs went fairly well, and I approached the race with trust and conviction, as I could see my skiing was back to where I knew it could be. I was doing well in the Downhill when, 2/3 of the way down the course, I had a bobble that almost threw me on my face, and back in the nets. Somehow I stayed on my feet and gave away some speed to make the next gate, and the rest of the course. I was thankful to be in the finish, though I knew the mistake was costly and the result was unfavorable. It felt good to ski well, trust myself, and make it through the finish into the top 30 even with a big bobble. To know that, without that bobble, I could have been in the top-10 or top-5 felt good, even though it wasn't a reality. And to stay on my feet and remain calm through it all was an achievement I was contented by. Going into the Super-G race the next day was a bit stressful. The whole World Championship team selection process has been putting a lot of pressure on everyone on our team over the last few weeks. Vibes have been intense, skiing has been tense, qualifying has been on everyone's mind. I just wanted to go out there and ski well. I wanted to prove to myself that I am skiing well, and I wanted to be comfortable and calm on the snow. Although my skiing wasn't perfect, I was composed and present. I skied a little bit safe, but felt like I could actually get to the front of the ski and generate some power. I made a few good turns and didn't have any sketchy moments....AND I skied through the finish. Getting into the top-10 was a step in the right direction, even if I wasn't skiing very aggressively.
It felt good to get back in the top ten, and to hopefully bring some confidence into St. Moritz. I'm looking forward to skiing under pressure, to pushing myself and taking risks again, to looking for speed and trying to ski confidently. We will see. Like they say, when it's good, it's easy. And when it's bad.... well....
I am learning so much every day. I am remembering how much I love to ski, how enjoyable it is to race down a course with the wind in your face. That feeling of arcing a sweet turn, carrying speed -- pure joy. If I can put a whole run of perfect turns together I will be thrilled. But to take things as they come and see every moment for it's potential is something I am reminded of when that perfection seems unattainable. And if I can't ever put a perfect run together? So be it. I'll take what I can get. Even if it's just one turn.
TO BE JOLLY
XC skiing with my dad and sister Allana at the Canmore Nordic Center in Alberta
The alleged 'break' that is Christmas. It always has it's stresses, it's pleasures, it's insanity. The family time. The gift organization. The fires and the food and the love. After returning home from Val d'Isere I had some work to do. I had lost a lot of weight and strength in my sickness, and knew I was going to have to hit the gym often during my time off. It is already so difficult to distribute my time at home efficiently and satisfyingly. To spend the time I want to spend with friends and family can be exhausting by itself. Add gym and exercise time to that regimen and it turns nuts. Then throw in appointments, errands, skiing, fun, and trying to relax and rejuvinate.... Just the thought of rejuvination almost seems like a joke.... Luckily I had a few weeks over the Holiday season this year to get everything done. I got to spend a week at home in Oregon, and a week up in Canmore with family as well. I even got to free ski for 3 days. I gained back some strength, read my book, got everyone gifts (though I may not have finished knitting that sweater for my sister....) and enjoyed time in the snow and mountains with loved ones.
I got to back-country XC tour ski in Oregon twice: once up to the newly built Swampy shelter, and once around Skyliner and Tumalo Falls. When up in Alberta, I skied Lake Louise with my dad and sister Hilary on my dad's birthday. It was fascinating to see that mountain from a completely different perspective. The backside has steep, impressive terrain, and the new snow that fell the night before provided some sweet slashes. I even took a run on the race hill, which seemed like a different run altogether without any fences, dye, or gates. I also shredded Mt. Bachelor a few times with friends -- one day was a perfect, bluebird groomer day, and the other involved impossibly light (RARE for Oregon!), deep powder skiing. SO FUN
skiing on the backside of Mt. Bachelor
Northwest chair, Mt. Bachelor
I tried sensory-deprivation floating when I was home in Oregon, and loved it. To be floating in complete silence and darkness for 90 minutes sounds incredibly scary and boring. Maybe it was, but it really forces you to face your thoughts and relax. Letting go of the tension in all of my muscles and joints was something I'm not sure I've ever even done before. Always afraid of dislocating my shoulder, I subconsciously keep my joint and muscles tight, even in my sleep. This was the first time I've actually released my shoulder joint, and it felt AMAZING. And what went on in my head...well, that was pretty wild....
looking out over the Three Sisters and Broken Top from the top of NW chair
I sat down at my piano. I cooked elaborate meals (the most delicious was Paula Dean's cinammon buns on Christmas morning). I sat by the fire and read. I knitted and played games with my family (we discovered Dominion, thanks to Austin....). It was a good break.
By the time it was over I was ready to put my race skis back on and get in a course again. Actually, a few days after Christmas I felt ready to get back to work. Getting sick in Val d'Isere and being unable to race (the DH), or race well (on the Super-G day) left me feeling unsatisfied and hungry for more opportunities. Especially after winning that DH run in the Combined.....
Now I'm back in Europe, sitting at my desk in Zauchensee, looking out the window at all of the snow-covered roofs and cars, watching the chair lifts run and the wintery trees dance. We arrived back in Europe about a week ago, headed to Murau to train around the area for 5 days, and are now finally back on the race program. I'm feeling excited, anxiously and calmly crouched, ready to pounce and go fast again. It is supposed to snow quite a bit this week, so hopefully we can pull off some racing. If not, I just got my new powder skis, so my alternate plan is in place (and I wouldn't be THAT mad -- as long as we can replace the races). But I'm staying positive and am looking forward to skiing here, regardless to what extent. Hopefully the weather cooperates and we can get some wind in our faces. Wahoo!!!
'TIS THE SEASON
PC: Christophe Pallot / Agence Zoom
It has begun. WAHOO!!!! It's nice to be back into the swing of the winter racing season. Letting loose and flying free. The first races in Lake Louise are always so thoughtfully and impatiently anticipated -- it is tough to remember how to mentally approach a race. The buildup coming into those first race days makes for a difficult obstacle to overcome. Standing back in the start, at the top of a mountain, with cameras in your face, people yelling at you, and many eyes watching, is a bit of a shock. Racing is just not the same as training, no matter how you think about or look at it. The run is longer. You're wearing your race gloves. It's on television. You always have to pee. But the anxiety created by racing isn't necessarily bad. It is exhillerating. It feels like a washing machine in your belly, and a miniature ping-pong ball bouncing around inside of your brain. The nerves rush through your body and make the excitement turn to jitters tinged with doubt. You fight the doubt, you let it in, you push and pull. Deep breaths, self-talk, finding your flow.
The start of a World Cup race is a strange thing. The environment is rigid, stiff and quiet. Quieter than you would like. You start to listen to your own breath, get in your own head. People are running around with radios, technicians are waiting to lay your skis in the snow near the start gate. All of the racers are waiting to use the port-a-potty. Everyone suddenly jolts toward the television screen to watch the racers in front of you ski, discussing line and bumps and light. You can't see a damned thing because of all the heads, so you decide to trust your inspection. Blood starts flowing, muscles are warming up. You're doing cat-cows, while your opponent is doing leg-swings and you wonder...maybe I should be doing that....
At this level of ski racing, mentality is 90% of the game. You've done the work, you've trained beautifully. But a race is different. To trust yourself under pressure is a dream that I sometimes imagine. But in my real dreams? I miss my start, I show up naked, I lost my skis and there's a moose on the course. Anyway.... Approaching a race like you do a training run is nearly impossible. It's in the back of your mind. TODAY IS A RACE DON'T SCREW IT UP. It's right in front of your face, presenting itself as a camera as you're trying to buckle your boots--just a friendly reminder! Your subconscious, if nothing else, is fully aware of the situation and presents itself as a quickening heart beat. A hot neck. A shakey hand as you reach for some water. It's time to show the world what you've got. And you only have one chance. Everybody's watching you--your mum woke up at 2:30 a.m. to watch (she missed her 7 am flight last week). Your roommate at home is watching, your boyfriend, basically ALL of Austria. Even the men's team is watching, and who knows what they'll say about your run (and even your character) if you ski like a dummy. This is the real thing.
Racing is exhausting. Talking yourself into a mindset so precise and extremely unnatural takes an exorbitant amount of energy. Sleeping for 8 hours, which is really difficult to do, doesn't really help much. It's an experience that takes a while to recover from, regardless of the result or the difficulty of the actual course. Racing 3 days in a row can actually make me sick, as my body collapses into relief.
The ski season is tough. Your self-confidence can only get you so far before something bites you in the ass. There's the travel, the training, the impact on your joints and muscles. It's nearly impossible to get enough sleep. Your mental stability is greatly compromised, especially if you're not meeting your personal expectations. But it is so worth it. The stress, both physical and mental, that we put ourselves through each winter, would be enough to make many people hide in bed, give up, eat a whole bunch of ice-cream. But when you get to fly down a downhill course it becomes worth it. The pure enjoyment far outweighs the stress, as long as you can find a way to balance.
And here I am, balancing on the afternoon before the first race kicks off here in Val d'Isere. Tomorrow we'll be racing Super-Combined, Downhill on Saturday, and Super-G on Sunday. The training runs were incredibly fun, and I'm really looking forward to racing in these gorgeous mountains this weekend. Send your positive vibes and deep breaths this way please :)
Finally, there is snow on the ground here in Copper, Colorado. It is back to the warm temperature it has been persisting at for the last few weeks, but we had a few very cold days and some natural snow ACTUALLY FELL FROM THE SKY! It was amazing.
We arrived here in Copper on November 3rd, and have been waiting, praying, dancing for snow ever since that day. When it didn't snow we danced for cold temperatures. Then we danced because there was nothing else to do. And we waited some more. And then we waited and waited and waited.... Fortunately, Copper Mountain is at a high enough elevation that it typically has cold temps at the very top, even if it is fairly warm at the base (it has been close to 60 degrees Farenheit down here every day). The top of the upper lift here sits at 12,000-something feet. So there was one run when we arrived. One run for many, many teams trying to train from all over the United States, from Europe, from around the world. It was the only run open in the U.S. for a while, and almost every American ski racer, from ages 6-60, wanted to train on it. Our first two days of skiing consisted of very crowded, almost dangerous GS on an over-packed run full of over-zealous skiers. Two days later we were able to run a 40-second Super-G course on the top of the speed track. It was the second run on the mountain to open for training, and there have slowly been a few more to open over the last couple of weeks. I still haven't taken a full free run in the 2 1/2 weeks since I've been here. It's been frustrating, only being able to go fast in gates and not get a solid feeling through free-skiing. But it has been productive, I suppose, as far as being able to run in the skis, work on my gliding and technique, and take a few runs of Slalom here and there :P
(working on my tuck)
The snow seems to appear here in Copper later and later every year we come. Last year our arrival was postponed by 5 days, and we only got about 5 days of training on the full-length speed track. The speed track here is such a big advantage for the US Ski Team, but it hasn't seemed to come together quite like we intended when they first built the speed center here. When we arrived here this year on November 3rd we were told the full-length speed track would be ready in 7-8 days. Now it's November 19th and we're still waiting for it to open. It sounds like we will get one day, our last day here in Copper, on the full-length Downhill track. ONE DAY. After being here for 3 weeks, we will have one day to test out skis on steep terrain, one day to figure out equipment in conditions similar to those in a race, one day to see where we stand as a team.
The men's World Cup speed races in Lake Louise next week were canceled, and their races here in Colorado (Beaver Creek) were also canceled, due to lack of snow at both venues. I'm crossing my fingers for our women's World Cup races in Lake Louise, which begin in 10 days. We will see.
Nobody can say for certain why winter is coming later and later every year, but there is an abundance of evidence out there that points to climate change/global warming. It's frustrating to understand and admit my part in worsening it. Ski racing, with all the travel pollution and product consumption, is not a sustainable sport. We are killing our own sport, our own love. I'm sure there are many ways we can make changes to lessen our impact, but it doesn't seem that we are moving toward a solution any time soon. Especially now that the new leader of our country, the most powerful in the world, believes that climate change is a hoax.
I feel muted, afraid, subdued. For what is to come of the sport I am so passionate about, for what is to come of the mountains, for what is to come in this world. But I continue on, hoping for change and striving to inspire that change. Is it all I can do?
We will see.
Now for an update: After training camp in Park City, I headed to Maui on a whim. I wanted to get away for a few days, jump in the ocean, and meet with a trainer that works with Julia who has helped me in the past. It was such a wonderful trip--I got to hang out with beautiful old friends and make new ones. Playing with Resi and Jules was refreshing. Breathing in the fresh island air, smelling the flowers, eating fresh fish. Getting my body back into alignment, getting my hair wet and salt water in my sinuses. It was perfect.
turtles on the beach in Maui
Then it was home to Oregon for one night before heading out to St. Louis to visit my sister Allana and her partner Austin. Tommy met me there on Halloween night (I was dressed as a dragon-lizard-alien-ballerina), and we got to explore the city for a few days together.
We went to the arch. We went to the City Museum. We wandered around parks and museums and through city buildings. I took some photos while I was there that I will post on a photo blog soon.
Tommy admiring the arch
For now, I'll keep hoping for snow. I head home in a few days, then will spend some time with my family over Thanksgiving before (hopefully!) heading up to the first World Cup races in Lake Louise. A part of me hopes that it won't be as cold as it can be in Lake Louise, but another part of me really wants winter. I want the crisp air. I want the frozen toes. I want to ski and feel my boots respond. I want winter back. Let's all hope for it, and do our part to bring it back, especially now that we're at the brink, the fringe, the edge of a turning point. It's one way or another, it's our responsibility as humans, families, friends, and I hope we choose winter. Even after realizing that many of us don't consider it consequential, I hope I can change people's minds and make a difference. Make a change. I want the earth to be our home for a very long time, and I want to help to make that happen <3 <3 <3
Portillo, Chile. Reno, Nevada. Bend, Oregon. San Francisco, California. Bend, Oregon. Montreal, Quebec. Park City, Utah. These have been my places of existence over the last month (in chronological order). And the journey continues on from here.... But, for now, a recap!
Portillo was incredible. The training was practically perfect, with bluebird skies, freezing temperatures, and (mostly) smooth courses. While we were there, the snow was melting fast. Really fast. So fast that after 4 days of not grooming the hill, the way the sun was eating away at the snow was not only clearly visible, but tangible under your skis. It was creating these holes, and the snow began to look like dirty white cheese. Yuck. But after some grooming and slipping, the training turned out to be sweet. Every single day. There were only two cloudy days out of the whole two weeks that we were there. I have never had such a successful weather camp in my 13 years of traveling to Chile. WOW!
Let's just say there was quite a bit of pool-side chilling. Reading in the sun. Hot tubbing. Napping. Sun bathing. Yummmmm. I ended up bringing only my 120 mm film camera down to Portillo. It is a Lomography Belair X 6-12 that I got for my birthday, and MAN is it fun to mess around with. I played with lenses, double exposures, lighting, all the fun stuff.
-- Above is a triple exposure I took of the Tres Hermanos mountains and Alice paddling around the pool. Sky swimming --
-- In front of the old train station in Portillo. None of these photos have been edited --
-- The Octagon (where we stay in Portillo) in it's element --
-- Hanging out by the lake with the girls. I will upload and post more photos to my blog soon, so keep an eye out --
I flew back into Reno (where I flew to Chile from) and spent a few days with friends before returning to Bend with all of my dirty, playa-dusted stuff. It was wonderful to see some old friends and relax for a few days while I staved off jet-lag and a cold--eventually losing the battle to the latter. But I was excited to get home, so I took off after 2 days.
Oregon was lovely. I had a total of 2 1/2 weeks at home, which is way more than usual, and I tried to take advantage of it. I recovered from my cold and started hitting the gym again, got out on my mountain bike a few times, and even made it out to Smith to climb one day. A week before I had to fly out I headed down to San Francisco to attend a wedding with Tommy.
-- Cascade Lake Highway near Bend, OR. Taken with Tommy's 120 mm Lubitel film camera --
It was wonderful to roam the city for a few days, but I still didn't feel satisfied with my amount of time spent at home. So I headed back for a few more days before the long adventure that I'm now on. I even got to go mountain biking in Oakridge! That was rad. So much fun. Like, unbelievable amounts of fun. And laughs, and smiles, and such a crazy-satisfying 6 hour ride. I created a video with the footage I took via my GoPro in Oakridge. Follow this link to check it out! You can see all of the videos I have made in the past under the "yumminess"-->"videos" tab above, or just click here.
The next morning I took off for Canada. But I wasn't really that sad to leave home, because I knew I was in for a crazy adventure....
-- A sunset shot from the top of Spencer's Butte, OR I took sometime this spring, with one of my film cameras. Unedited --
We have been talking about training with Cirque du Soleil since the end of last season, and it finally fell into place last week. Jackie, Alice, Anna, Stacey, Breezy, and myself went up to Montreal to experience the circus for the last 5 days. It was. More than I can put into words. Luckily, I had my GoPro and took some footage :) So keep an eye out for an edit coming soon!
We did so much more than acrobatics (though we attempted those as well). We took Bouffon acting classes, tried our best at African dance, Congo drumming, face painting. We swung on a trapeze 60 feet in the air, attached to bungees in a harness, flying around and doing flips, bouncing close to the ground (but not that close) and dropping with our hearts in our throats. We flew off of the Russian Swing, tried our hands (feet, actually) on the Russian bar, played on the trampoline, worked on our handstands, swung around on hanging silks, did a little acro-yoga. It was intense, challenging, inspiring, and INSANELY FUN. I already want to go back. It made me want to run away and join the circus. Actually. I'll consider it when I'm done flying down mountains for a job...
Now we're back in Park City for a week's worth of hard dry-land training. This is the last intense week we have in the gym before the season kicks off. Next weekend the GS folk will race in Sölden, and the World Cup season begins! We head to Copper on November 3rd, but before that I have a few other stops. After training this week I fly over to Maui on Saturday. I will be there for 5 days before heading home for one night to do my laundry and grab my ski gear. Then it's off to St. Louis, Missouri to see my sister, and straight from there to Copper. It's a busy time of year, but I'm milking every last bit of fall freedom I have out of this season before it's back to freezing early-morning wake-ups and dark course inspections. The fall here in Park City is still beautiful and yellow, and it's warm enough to do things outside (hopefully we don't just spend the whole week in the gym. but it's likely).
It's time for pumpkin carving and leaf-peeping. Time for costume-brainstorming and eggnog (yes, I have already been drinking eggnog. but it does seem early, doesn't it?). It's time for one last push in the gym, one last chance to gain a bit of strength before the ski season commences. It's time for jumping around, a little beach time, some family love. And then it's game time. I look forward to all of it, every last bit. It's time.
-- Testing out the quiver in Portillo, Chile (GoPro) --
BACK AND FORTH WITH THE CHANGE
So. I disappeared into the desert for a few days, to a very special place called Black Rock City (aka Burning Man). Needless to say, it was absolutely wild and crazy, dusty and beautiful, full of hugs, art, and creative change. The photo above captures the feel of it well. Although I thoroughly enjoyed my time, I am actually incredibly grateful to be clean right now, even if it means I have to be back in civilization.
I went into the event with no expectations, as most experience Burners recommended. There are so many rumors, stereotypes and hype around the event, it was actually easy to set them all aside as they often conflicted and warped according to the story-teller/article/whisper. One thing was certainly undeniable: it was dusty.
As the event is in the middle of the desert in Nevada, nowhere near any bodies of or running water, flora, or fauna, it is a strange place to try and survive for a week. But the fact that I was there amongst 70,000 (or so they say) other people made it easier to thrive in that harsh environment. It sure was weird to camp on a vast, flat desert for 5 days, but it definitely forces you to come together as a community and find a way together. And I suppose that's what Burning Man is about: self-reliance and communal effort. Those are actually 2 of the 10 principles of the event. The other 8 are: radical inclusion, gifting, decommodification, radical self-expression, civic responsibility, leaving no trace, participation and immediacy.
The two principles of decommodification and gifting were truly incredible ones to participate in. Money was only useful for buying ice and water, otherwise the whole event is based off of trade/gifting. It was amazing to witness the community that comes together when there is no hierarchy based off of affluence. And some of the gifts were so well thought out and often exactly what you needed. We were in the depths of the playa one day, ogling at the artwork, in the midst of a crazy-hot dust storm when a couple came up with a giant thermos full of iced apple juice. There was nothing that I wanted more in that moment, and their willingness to carry such a huge jug of liquid out into the desert to share with others was inspiring and revitalizing. I brought my own gifts as well; I made a small lino-cut print reading "Burning Man 2016" and hand-printed 200 postcards, with the help of Mary-Ellen (Tommy's mum) and Kyle. We printed and stamped them, and I brought my small polaroid camera to take photos of participants to glue onto the postcards and then ship them off. The material gifts I received in return were incredible (they just kept coming!), but the greatest gift was the joy and appreciation that participants at my "polaroid post-card" stand exuded and professed. It felt so good to give back.
(dirty people embracing the dirt during a workshop in the playa)
I journaled relentlessly during my week in the desert, and I plan on reading through my entries and sharing more of my experience on my blog, with a plethora of accompanying photographs. The art out in the desert was absolutely insane. During my 5 days I was constantly wandering on my bike, taking photos and enjoying incredibly expressive art, but couldn't possibly see it all. Black Rock City is a place comprised 70,000 people placed on a circular grid that represents the form of a clock. It was an insanely big city, considering the fact that it popped up in the middle of nowhere in just a few days. Although it was fairly easy to navigate, the vastness made it somewhat confusing at times. But I always found my way back to camp and made it out alive.
Along with art exhibits and massive parties, there were a ton of workshops and classes held out around the camp area. Most camps were known for something that they gave to the Burning Man community: yoga, TED talks, massage, healing work, tai-chi, meditation, acrobatics, cucumber eye-masks, you name it. There was a guidebook for all of the classes and workshops held throughout the week, and that was my goto every morning when I awoke. I attended yoga classes, chakra-meditation, tai-chi, meditation, acro-yoga, and, of course, Dana and Kevin's wedding (which was AMAZEBALLS)! As a unicorn. When will I ever get the chance to be a unicorn maid of honor again? It's unlikely.
(Dana looking sexy and me being a unicorn)
All in all, it was an incredible journey. I met so many amazing people and was inspired by many ideas that I would otherwise have not had the chance to encounter. I plan on writing a more extensive blog about my adventures, so stay tuned for that.
For now, I'm heading down to Chile! I am actually on a plane. On the internet. 20,000 feet above the earth! Neat. I am feeling rejuvenated and ready to get back on snow. And I'm definitely glad to be going back to winter. This past week was HOT! I am going to post a photo blog on New Zealand sometime over the next few days. Until then, "move back and forth with the change and let what batters you become your strength' (as one of my favorite works at B.M. quoted).
(the pyramid burn, which was hugely impressive, on Friday morning at sunrise)
ON MY WAY
traveling over Arthur's Pass on the South Island of New Zealand
It seems like I am always coming or going, never staying put, unable to settle, unable to familiarize myself with a place, sticking to the road and committing instead to adventure. But, for now, I'm okay with that. I realized this on my road trip around the South Island that I took with Tommy this past week: we never stopped somewhere for more than a day, but continued moving on, always on our way somewhere. I learned to be still and present in the van--it was our temporary home that came everywhere with us. And although we had a community of Jucy drivers, it was hard to not indulge ourselves in any particular community and get to know any one place and it's people. But at least we had that van....
The road trip made me really think about how badly I want a camper van, RV, or something of the sort. To have the capability to just take off in a vehicle I can call home is so alluring--you can travel and yet still remain at home. Our camper van had 2 gas burners for cooking, a fridge and sink, and was fully stocked with dish-ware, cooking utensils, towels, a pop-top bed that folded into the front roof, benches, pillows, comforters, and everything else we needed to call it home for a week. We cooked almost every single meal while traveling--I'm guessing that all of my clothes now smell like bacon, but I can't tell. We drove from Queenstown, through Methven, over Arthur's Pass, down the west Coast, back through Wanaka and finally ended up in Ohau. It was a beautiful drive, with very diverse scenery. On the east side of the pass there were snowy mountain peaks, glacial lakes and endless sky. On the west coast the glacial mountains jutted out of the rainforest, which succeeded from the sandy beaches. The rain forests were dense and foreign, with many plants and trees I have never seen before. We visited Fox Glacier, which literally begins at the foot of the rain forest. What an interesting dialogue those two ecosystems create when they meet in one place.
Wanaka and Ohau were at the end of our adventures, but I know I'll go back for more exploring and camping around that island. My favorite part of the trip was likely when we wandered around Castle Hill for a day--lost in the maze of crazy beautiful rocks, backdropped by mountain ranges and a full moon (see below). I will post again with accompanying photos and descriptions of my adventures on my blog. Soon. For now, I have written a blog post on the precarious juggling act of balancing social media and real-life experiences. Check it out here.
YASSSSSSS! Snow. It has been so crisp, so revitalizing, so gorgeous. I am back in Queenstown for the morning before taking off on a van camping trip for the next 6 days. I am sitting in the restaurant/bar of my hotel, The Sherwood, looking out at the lake, enjoying the clouds slowly passing over the mountain-tops, the green bushes pointing skyward, the small waves rippling across the water. And sitting on my computer.....
It seems like an oxymoron sometimes, enjoying my surroundings, enjoying the moment, while staring at a computer screen. I have been without internet for the most part of my trip down here in New Zealand. Only opening my computer every couple of days has been really nice and refreshing. I find myself becoming anxious, not keeping up with blog posts, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. And that anxiety simultaneously causes me to yearn for a connection (internet or phone service) and makes me sad to realize how much I depend on that sort of thing. It makes me want to delete my Facebook, my blog, all of my social media. It makes me want to sit down and write for myself, to take time to read a book, to smash my computer and my phone and really be present.
I'm writing a journal entry on this: how I feel so divided and unsatisfied in the new world of social media and constant updating, on fast meals and quick fixes. Perhaps I'll post it on my blog. Perhaps I'll keep it to myself. But for now, I will give you a quick update on my trip down here in NZ:
This training camp has been unbelievably good -- we got insanely lucky with the weather since we got down here on July 25th. Most years down in New Zealand we get rained out (or off of the mountain) for at least 3 days, but this year we only missed one day of skiing. And I made up for it with an epic day of heli skiing on one of our days off of training (LUCKY MEEEEEE). We started our camp down in Round Hill, staying in Lake Tekapo--such a beautiful spot! The snow was fairly soft and the terrain is easy and forgiving; it is a perfect place to get back on ski after a few months off. There are only a few runs, and they are mellow but still fun. It snowed a bit while we were there, but we ended up sticking to our training plan and making it through the whole week down there. Then it was off to Arrowtown, to train in Cardrona. Right when we arrived in Arrowtown it rained furiously for a night, and slowed through the next day (our day off). Because of fog, snow, visibility, and the training conditions, we decided to take an extra day off and shift some days around to make the most out of training. So after two days off, we skied in Cardrona for 3 days of Super-G and GS training. It started off soft, but by the 3rd day was grippy and great for training speed. After a short stay in Arrowtown, we headed to Ohau to finish off the camp. Right when we pulled in, I was under the spell of that lake and the surrounding mountains. They watered the hill and it ended up being absolutely perfect training conditions: icy but grippy, steep and difficult terrain, bluebird days with only one day of wind. It was a bit of a shock to go from Round Hill and Cardrona (both very mellow slopes) to the steep, technical hill in Ohau, but our fundamental work crossed over and the skiing turned out great. I was skiing well during the camp. I had a few off days, but mostly felt very connected and was linking turns well--learning how to create more pressure and angles at the top of the turn to generate good speed and carry it down the hill. It was really nice to stick with the equipment I know--I ended up staying with Lange boots for this season--and to get a good feeling right off the bat. Most years I am messing around with boots, canting, bindings, bevels, etc. and cannot really start to feel my skiing until around November. This year I feel more comfortable, and am able to actually work on my fundamental technique. I have a good feeling about this winter. But that will have to wait. For now.....
I am taking off in a camper van (from Jucy) with Tommy for a few days of exploring the country. We will stick to the Southern Island, probably head to Castle Hill and over Arthur's pass, down the West Coast, back through Wanaka and then end up in Queenstown. This is a very tentative plan and is up for revision--which is why we rented the van! I have been down here for so many years in a row and still have yet to explore. So I am getting psyched and ready to close my computer again for some adventuring before heading back to Oregon. Keep an eye out for another update in the next week when my explorations conclude. The photo above was taken from the very top of Ohau (a short hike from the top of the chair), overlooking the mountains to the North.
Peace and love <3
Utah basically felt like that ^: hectic, fast, upside-down, and a bit out of control. But it was good to spend some time in the gym, to focus on fine-tuning my body, push myself physically (and, in turn, mentally), and be more cognizant of nutrition and how it affects my physique and function. After returning to Park City from Canmore, I jumped back into the gym program for 2 weeks before road-tripping out to Colorado, and finally returning to Oregon.
The trip out to Colorado was hot and deserted. It was a long drive from Park City to Crested Butte, but it was worth it when we woke up in the morning to find ourselves in the middle of a small town set within a stunning mountain range. Dave and Ramsey Chodunsky's wedding was gorgeous and bright, with dazzling flowers and views, fun music, and games. During the day of the wedding, Tommy and I became intrigued by the area and decided to stay for an extra day, delaying our drive. We splashed in the river, explored the town, fished, ate yummy food, played around in the park with a fun acro-yoga crew (thanks Emily!!!), camped, and explored. It was so hard to leave Crested Butte, but we finally managed to and began our drive back to Oregon. We pulled a 13 hour driving day and drove into Sun Valley, Idaho at 2 am. We wanted to have a place to stay for more than 1 night, so we could get out of the car for at least a day, and get to know an area just a little bit. So we stayed with Willy B on our late-night arrival, and found a camping spot the next day, right on a river, surrounded by perfect hammock trees, with a natural hot springs just down the street. What a wondrous spot to end up, accompanied by another difficult and late departure.
But we finally made it back to Bend, rushed through a few days of gym-time, appointments, and family get-togethers before escaping to the coast for a few days. We rented a house in Manzanita, OR and endlessly played in the waves, which was incredibly refreshing (not TOO cold!) and rejuvenating, and graciously readied me for my travels back to winter.
After attempting to catch up with things at home, and catching my breath after emerging from the ocean, I hopped on a plane to head South(west). It was a long ride, but I am grateful to be back in winter. The crisp air filled my lungs so joyously as I walked between terminals in Auckland, and as always, flying over the mountains into Queenstown made me feel so small and wonderfully excited to get back on my skis.
Today was our first day of skiing, and it was a blast. We just free skied: ripped around Round Hill (on the few runs that are open) and got some wind in our faces. I am looking forward to getting back into gates, testing out my new equipment, and to work on my prowess on the snow.
I unfortunately misplaced my camera's SD card, so have lost many of my photographs from over the past few months :( but I have some GoPro and film shots, and will share those soon on my blog. Stay tuned! Peace and love from New Zealand <3 <3 <3
sunset from atop Spencer's Butte in Eugene, OR
I am sitting under the sun outside of a coffee shop in Canmore, Alberta. It has been a while since I've been back here to enjoy the summer in these stunning mountains, and I am catching up. Catching up on that humbling feeling I get when I'm here. Catching up on my breath, catching up on emails, catching up on my website and blog. I spent the morning revamping my blog -- it's had the same format and cover photos for the last 5 years. I've been sorting through photos that I've taken over the last 7 months, trying to get things organized on my computer so that when I open it up I can feel I have an open, organized space to work within.
Avoiding my technological life has been nice, but has also now left me to clean up all of the photos, emails, music, forms, contracts, receipts, articles, video, etc. that have compiled over the winter and spring. I guess I could have called it spring cleaning if I'd had done it 5 days ago, before the official first day of summer. But I didn't. Alas! Here I am.
Normally I have a difficult time functioning in clutter. I can't be creative when things are a disorganized mess: when my house has 4 projects going, goodwill boxes and bags are piled about the home, dishes are in the sink, things aren't put away in their proper place, food is rotting in the fridge, bags are strewn around the front door, books on the floor, knitting in the couch cracks, cameras at the foot of my bed, unopened and unanswered mail scattered atop the kitchen table. Some people find this tendency to be a "neat freak" annoying and crazy. I have begun to force myself to relax in unkempt conditions, but it doesn't feel natural. The impending doom of having to eventually clean and organize weighs down on me no matter how much I meditate on letting it go. That weight distracts me, does not allow me to breathe freely, and manifests major kinks in my creative flow. I realize that the cleaning and organizing will never come to an end, and that living with others requires a kind of compromise, but I'm coming to understand how much easier it is to be tranquil and to flow in an ordered environment.
So I am catching up on that order. I am putting things in their homes, and I am already feeling more satisfied and grounded. I have compiled a few photos and words, wanting to update all of you on my recent endeavors and recap my school spring term. Please follow this link to my new blog to read about my adventures: creative, intellectual (barely), physical, mystical, and fanciful.
And, please kindly remove your shoes at the front door :D
APPROACHING THE PERIPHERY
coming through the finish of the SG portion of the combined event in Soldeu, Andorra
It still hasn't really hit me that this season is over. The last 8 days have all started to blend together--I am having a hard time distinguishing my races in Lenzerheide from those in St. Moritz. It's hard to believe that yesterday I was standing in the start gate of my last World Cup race of the 2015/2016 season. Although it was the team event (which I haven't trained for in over a year, and haven't raced in more than 3 years!), it was still a World Cup, and it was a pretty exciting event to be a part of. Actually, it is a bit stressful, because the pressure is not only to perform for yourself, but to perform for your team. It was hard to be somewhat of a weakness on my team, but I was happy to be a part of it regardless.
approaching the finish via air travel in La Thuile, Italy
Since the races in Garmisch, it has been a bit of a whirlwind. From Garmisch (where I had my first top-5 of the season) we went straight to Crans Montana, where it snowed a meter (!) and our races were cancelled (but they tried! and we got some good pow skiing in). From Crans Montana, we went straight to La Thuile, Italy, where they rescheduled the downhill we lost in Crans. At first I was a bit nervous about this new hill--it is very steep and technical--but the snow was nearly perfect, and the course set was the same. I skied well; I ended up 5th in both of the Downhills, and 9th in the Super-G. La Thuile was the first time this season that I felt comfortable and powerful on my skis. Something clicked and I found an edge that has been missing since last season. But I was on the safe side of the edge. I felt relaxed when generating speed, and found myself craving that feeling from a calm perspective for the first time ever. I didn't necessarily want to go fast to win, I wanted to go fast to get that feeling of weightlessness, of flow, of contentment, of euphoria. Even if it was for only one turn, that feeling has been so satisfying since I have figured out how to obtain it. It comes in it's purest form (where I am fully aware of it) fairly rarely, but I can recall a few times this year that I have found that pleasure, and it makes me yearn for more.
From La Thuile we took off for Soldeu, Andorra. I decided to drive to Andorra because I wanted to take a trip to Spain the week after our races for my downtime. The conditions were tough in Soldeu, with plenty of new snow on race day, and consequently many delays and setbacks to the program. We didn't end up racing until 1:30 pm (I believe?), and the conditions proved difficult even at that point in the day. It was snowing fairly hard during the race, and I took advantage of my early start number to get on the podium for the second time in my career. It was the first time I've been on the podium in Super-G, and I carried the momentum into the next day to ski into 2nd (behind Lindsey) in the SG portion of the combined. Unfortunately, it was a tough weekend for Lindsey, as she sustained a season-ending injury to her knee, and had to call it after racing the SC--realizing the severity of her injury. It was cool to see her determination on the day of the combined, and to see her battle through the pain was pretty inspiring and eye-opening. I am fully committed to ski racing, but I'm not sure I would go to that length (racing with a broken bone in my leg) for it.... WOW!
After racing in Andorra (which was beautiful) I headed to Barcelona for a week of exploration in the company of a few of my best friends. Kevin and Dana were in Soldeu for the races (Kevin=good luck charm?), and came to hang out in the city for a few days before heading back to the U.K. Elle flew over from Oregon and spent 4 days with me in Barcelona, from where we road tripped together to Santa Caterina, Lenzerheide, and finally St. Moritz. It was fantastic to have a friend by my side for the last 10 days of World Cup racing, as I was low on energy and my team had shrunk to two athletes (Stacey Cook and myself). Spending some time with a connected, free-spirited, and philosophical friend outside of ski racing was so refreshing and helped me to gain some perspective.
(raaarrrr) Soldeu, Andorra
Barcelona was amazing. It was warm and sunny every day I was there. I found an apartment in the Bario Gotico, parked my car for the week, and lived the city life. I saw plenty of Gaudi creations, rode a moped around the city, ate way too many tapas, bought a sweet hammock for my house in Oregon, and frolicked around the city streets. I took it slow. I didn't wake up before 9. I baptized myself and hit the reset button in the ocean. I settled into the Spanish lifestyle fairly quickly, and had a hard time adjusting back to my normal racing/training program.... But it was back to Lenzerheide before I could blink, and I was in the start gate again. I learned a lesson on the SG race day that I have learned countless times throughout my career: if you want to be fast in Super-G, it's all about taking risks, pushing the line, and gunning. I took that wisdom into Sunday's Super Combined SG run and ended up winning the run. It felt good to know that I hadn't lost my speed from the races before my break, I just needed a reminder about how to approach racing. I had a tough run of slalom, but ended up 7th in the Combined that day The day after the Super-Combined in Lenzerheide, we had a DH training run in St. Moritz where World Cup Finals were held. My energy was depleting, and I was starting to feel the end of the racing season approach. I had a tough time working up motivation and vigor for the DH, but got a bit back for the Super-G and ended up taking 5th with a silly and costly mistake. Regardless, it felt good to know that I have speed, and to end the season with a solid race.
I am simultaneously happy and sad that the season is over. On one hand, I am happy with my skiing and pleased to end on a harmonious note. I am excited to go to school during the spring, and to get away from the stressful racing scene for a few months. On the other hand, I feel like I have just begun to find my groove. I am nervous that this long break with affect that, but am confident that I will discover it again and take the speed into next season. Stay tuned for updates on my spring adventures and throwbacks to this season. Time for U.S. Nationals, a few drinks, and some education!
IN THE MIDST, TOWARD THE EDGE, AMONGST THE MOTION
(racing Downhill in La Thuile, Italy this weekend)
I just spent half an hour writing a paragraph intricately describing my current surroundings and state of mind. Then I read over it and thought about how boring it would be to read from anybody's perspective other than my own, and immediately deleted it. I thought about my blog/website, how I present myself, why people read my words, and what audience I want to appeal to. Why do I even write for other people? Sometimes it is much more enticing to simply sit and write for myself -- to release my thoughts, work through struggles, and try to understand myself better. But then....I feel a sense of relief after writing a blog entry, as I do post-journal-entry. It's a different sense of relief, though. It feels more like a communal thing, like a way to relate to other humans. And to share. To be a part of something bigger than myself, which I realize the importance of more and more every day.
And what is it that I want to share? I want to write creatively about a lifestyle that is often viewed simply from a traveling/competing perspective. There is so much more to competing in a high-level sport than just the sport itself. I strive to philosophically relate my thoughts to my sport, and consider myself incredibly lucky to have a means through which I can draw people into my life--my profession. To present myself as a professional athlete is something I often abhor when meeting new people. But then I realize that I wouldn't meet all of these people if it wasn't for skiing. So I use my skiing to spark conversations: about the things I see in my travels, about ways of thinking, about global warming, about fear and doubt, love and connection, art and eloquence and kindness and openness.
I often wonder if anybody even reads my blog, if it makes any difference, if it matters in the end. Then I realize that nothing actually matters in the end (?), there is no point to life (?), the world will one day end and the Universe will continue on: careless, reckless, insentient. And this somehow makes me feel calm, allows me to be who I want to be, to indulge in the things that matter to me regardless of their fruition. So I write.
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This past weekend here in La Thuile was enjoyable and illuminating. After my downhill run on Saturday I found my technician Ales and told him that I don't feel scared anymore. I know that crashing is a possibility, a likelihood at some point, but I don't feel afraid of that right now. When I'm visualizing the course in my head before I run I often see myself catching an edge, hitting a rut, pile-driving face-first into some b-net, landing on my side off of a jump, crashing hard and paying for the risk-taking (as I have done many times in the past). But lately, instead of pushing these thoughts out of my head, I have been letting them come. And they always go. I acknowledge the fear, recognize my uncertainty, identify the doubt and let it all flow through me. It's impossible to avoid these thoughts and emotions, and for as many years as I have been pushing them out, I know that they always come back. Stronger and stronger every time. Fighting can seem much easier and more practical than letting go and allowing these "negative" feelings in to shake your core and darken your certainty and perspective. But I'm kind of over fighting. I'm sure the headstrong will to fight will come back, but right now I'm working on relaxing. Letting myself sleep more. Taking photographs at inappropriate times. Knitting and watching TV shows. Trusting.
I'm also becoming more comfortable on my skis with every run I take. I feel strong, powerful, sometimes I even feel graceful (not often a feeling I get to revel in). I'm feeling at ease at high speeds. I know I can handle the bumps and snow snakes that try to throw me around. My trust in my skiing is building in a way I have never felt before. I'm moving with more conviction, and although I'm often still clumsy and awkward, I am learning to allow those flaws to be strengths. I'm working hard on my presence and awareness, on appreciating every glimpse regardless of the routine. Allowing my breath to be an anchor to my place. Although I still often find myself worrying about what's next, fearing failure and letting my thoughts run in shadowy directions, I am catching the tangents and I'm becoming more okay with them. It feels good to be kind to myself.
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Why do you read this blog? Why do you write your own? I want to hear other people's stories and voices. I want to build a community someday where I know everybody's name. Where I can have a conversation about death and meaning with my neighbor, and appreciate the flight of birds and the play of light in silence. Maybe this is where I start, with sharing words with the unknown, so I can narrow things down and eventually come to find that place where I can settle and connect with others.
THIS IS ME NOT THINKING ABOUT SKIING
Those, above, are delicious pears from a market in Chamonix. I was just organizing random photos and found a bunch on my compact system camera from the last 10 months that I have forgotten about. So I am looking through them, sorting, editing, and will post a photo blog very soon!
Anyway--I am back in St. Louis, visiting my sister Allana. Plans have been changing over the last few weeks in Europe, and it turned out I had a week off (actually, I gave myself a week off :) ) so I decided to come over for a few days away from the ski racing scene. Thus far it has been awesome--I ate a scramble this morning with Sriracha, bacon, and tomato jam! YUM. Apart from the scramble, I have mostly felt weird and off-kilter today, trying to not think about skiing... but I just ended up watching some race video from the past few weeks....
I have always said that I wanted to be more consistent. I want to be solid, safe, grounded, stable. Being one of the fastest skiers is always the goal, but if you only make it to the finish half of the time, is it worth it? Recently I have been finishing all of my races: not falling, but not posting incredibly fast results. I still don't feel perfectly solid on my skis, but I am approaching that fine line that borders stability/safety and recklessness/speed. Thus far this year I have definitely been on the safe side. I haven't really felt out of control, but I also haven't really found the front of my skis. I often feel stuck in a neutral position, struggling to generate speed, to feel fluid and dynamic. My equipment has ailed me a few times, so I have been making some changes that are taking a bit of time to get used to, which is consequently causing me to be uncertain when I'm racing. There is definitely potential in my current setup, but I feel I need a bit more time with it to make it work well for me. Then there is my head....
Finding that fire to be clean and fast has been complicated and frustrating for me this year. Often, when I'm on the course, I'm content with my speed and don't desire to gain more. I feel kind of like a grown-up. Like I am growing out of the place that wants more and more and I am learning to be satisfied with what I have. This is a characteristic that I have always aspired for, but it is one that I am learning is affecting my drive. So now I have a challenge:::how do I separate the drive to be the best from the calm and contentedness I have always craved?
My potential has not yet been tapped into. I strive to be the best I can be, and while I am beginning to understand that self as a being not to be compared with others, I am grasping for some limit and routine to adhere to. While I am becoming stronger as my own being, I am relinquishing my adhesion to rules and expectations. What is possible? What is impossible? What are my limits, potentials, capabilities? Learning how to push those boundaries while not comparing to others' is proving to be difficult, but I am coming to decipher lines more as clouds, rules as provocations. This not only applies to skiing, but to every aspect of life.
And so I grow.
Home at last. It feels good to sleep in my own bed. And to be in my house--explosions everywhere. And snow! It's incredible to have snow blanketed over this town. There seems to be a comparable amount of snow here in town to any of the mountains I skied on while in Europe. It seems like a bleak winter is upon that continent....
Luckily there is a fair amount of snow up at Mt. Bachelor. More than we've seen (at this time of year) in the last four years. It's nice to have a bit of a change from the brown, warm Decembers we've experienced in recent years. I hear that it has snowed a foot per day, on average, over the last week. Nuts. Skiing yesterday seemed to prove this rumor true....there was 15 inches of fresh snow, and it was filling in all the while we were tracking it out. And it was light and creamy. Incredible skiing....so nice to be able to send it outside of the race arena. It has been a while since I was able to rip around without concern for significant rocks, stumps, boulders, and trees tearing up my bases. The only fast skiing I have done lately has been on training and racing courses....
It was an interesting start to the season. With my back tweak in November, I had to push it pretty hard in order to be ready for Lake Louise at the end of the month. After more time off than I was willing to accept, I understood that rest was the answer. So my training before the races in Lake Louise was minimal, and my confidence wasn't there. But it felt good to go fast again without pain, and I was happy to score some World Cup points (I was 19th and 21st in the Downhills, and 12th in the Super-G). Then it was off to Europe for a bit of rest and training before racing in Val d'Isere this past weekend. Training in Val Thorens was pretty good, but unfortunately the free skiing wasn't, so all of my time was spent in the gates. What I really wanted was to get back to the basics, get some wind in my face, and ski freely and fast outside of the gates.
After a few days of training we headed to Val d'Isere for the races, and there wasn't a ton of snow there either. But the race course was primed perfectly, and it felt good to ski on some responsive snow. I don't remember it being that dark on the hill in the past--the sun shone only on the top 7 gates or so, and then it was total darkness through the finish. Luckily it wasn't bumpy and there wasn't much to be scared of. Other than slalom gates...... And the finish line. I have managed to fall in every Downhill race in Val d'Isere over the last 3 years, but I was determined to change that this year. So I fell in the finish of the 2nd training run. No, it wasn't on purpose...but it certainly broke the curse. It hurt though. I dislocated my shoulder and suffered a bit of whiplash, but decided to race the next day in the Combined anyhow. Pushing out of the Downhill race start was a challenge--but not nearly as challenging as holding my arm up the whole way down the Slalom course...
I finished 15th in the Combined, and was feeling a bit stronger the next day for the Downhill race, finishing 10th. It was nice to get back in the top 10, even though my body wasn't feeling perfect. I look forward to this break at home--letting myself recover fully before getting back into skiing. There will be Baileys involved. And family, gifts, dogs, powder, sleep. Rest. It will be lovely to simply let myself rest.
While I traveled to see Leanne on the east coast this fall I took some photos. I have compiled a few of them into a photo blog, check that out here. Happy Holidays!
Here we are again. I'm sitting in my room in the Chateau Lake Louise, fighting a headache, thinking about a bath and my bed. Today was the first Downhill training run of the season. There is a lot more terrain out there than there has been in past years, and the course is nice and fast. I was really excited for the first training run...to push out of the gate, get some wind in my face, and see what my race-mode skiing can be like this season. But then I got to inspection and started freaking out. I have been fighting some pretty serious back pain lately, and didn't know how the first run would pan out....
Training camp in Copper, CO was...well...interesting. When we arrived the mountain was mostly brown and barren, and by the time we left there was more snow than we could have imagined materializing in 3 weeks. In the middle of the snow storms there was some good training, but the last 2 weeks for me have been a serious struggle. Toward the end of the first half of camp, before a 2 day break, I was training GS in Vail and managed to significantly tweak my back. I have had back problems in the past, but none as relentless, painful, or enduring as this particular episode. I found myself lying in bed and attempting many different kinds of therapy (acupuncture, chiropractic, osteopathic, massage, etc.) for the course of the first 3 days I took off, during which I believed the pain would reside and my strength and ability to ski would return. As it turned out, that was hopeful at best--naive, ambitious, eager. Expectations for returning to snow were high, and I found myself let down repeatedly over the last two weeks. I wrote a blog on pain, as I have been living in it continuously since my tweak, and have been grappling with the idea of pain as a chronic battle. Check that out here.
I haven't skied in a course without significant pain in at least 3 weeks. So today I was uncertain, after a few days of rest and therapy, that my back would be able to handle the forces and bumps of a real downhill. I couldn't decide what to focus on. My mind was all over the place in the start...'what if I have to pull out of the course,' 'what if my back gives out mid-way down,' 'what if I tweak it again and go back to phase 1....' It was a struggle. But I pushed out of the start, skied a bit hesitantly, made a few good turns, and was happy in the finish when I realized it was the first time I had thought about my back since the start gate. It wasn't on the front of my mind while going down the course for the first time in a while. WHAT A RELIEF. So....now...I'm getting excited to race. It's game time. Cheer loudly!
Portillo SG training
No seriously though. It feels like it has been FOR. EVER. I was getting so fantastically itchy, antsy, intoxicated at the thought of playing on the snow. Feeling the wind in my face. Letting go. Whooooooosh.
Portillo seems like it was so incredibly long ago. Ages and ages and ages. We are finally in Copper, Colorado--we had to postpone our camp arrival date by a week because of the lack of snow here. When I arrived here a few days ago the amount of snow was worrisome: the bottom of the speed track was sepia, barren, gloomy. But over the last three days it has been cold and snowing consistently. There is still some grass poking through, but Copper is pumping their snow-making machines and the runs are slowly filling in. For now, it's GS and SL until our ears bleed. Perhaps a bit of gliding.....
We trained GS and SL for the first three days here (now have a day off), and I'll just say it was quite a shock to the body. Getting off the chair at 12,000 feet is intimidating and exhausting in itself, never mind skiing down a steep, injected slalom course. Catching my breath after buckling my boots, I lean on my poles before pushing out of the slalom start with hopes that my quickness will return to me for the next 40 seconds. Punching down the last gate is a painful thing--I collapse and want to vomit at the finish. I think I'm acclimating...I swear I worked my ass off this summer....
I have put together some photos from Portillo. Check out my blog to witness my mountain adventures via visual portrayal (and a few words). More from these Rocky Mountains to come soon. Much love.
seagulls perched on the outskirts of Halibut Cove, AK
I bet you thought I meant to write "photos," but you're wrong. I was going to write "photos" and then I decided that I wanted to write "photons" because it sounded a little more surreal, intelligent, and less typical of me. Now I'm trying to think about how I can make "photons" a relevant subject in this post. So here we go.... Apparently photons have zero rest mass, which allows them to communicate across long distances. They are elementary particles: quantums of light. They are studied extensively for/in optical imaging, which is the only legitimate connection that I can find to relate them to photography. I suppose, though, that since photons are responsible for all light, they can really be related to anything that the human eye can see. Like your computer screen. Like the light that my camera incorporated to capture the above photograph, like the sustenance that encourages the trees and plants to grow, oxygen to be emitted, our lungs to be filled, our blood to pump and course through our bodies. Yay for photons! Reading the Wikipedia definition on photons made my head hurt. These are the sentences that encouraged the headache:
whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa I have always loved math and science, but I certainly will never be a quantum physicist. Or a physicist of any sort. Or an astronomer (which has always been a dream of mine), or as hot as Britney Spears circa 1999 (another crushed dream). Whatever. I sometimes like to write words. And I like taking photos. Want to see??? Click me click me
travels á la mode
The last few months have been nuts. Lots of travel, stress, thoughts, photos, writing, and skiing (hallelujah for this). It's been tough to keep up. I'm finally getting all my pictures from New Zealand put together, and am learning how to use Lightroom/Photoshop to get the most out of my photographs. After some time struggling to figure it out on my own, I had some incredible help from Jonathan Selkowitz in Portillo and am feeling a bit more capable of utilizing my digital shots. I have always been more comfortable with film--despite the fact that I know it's more expensive, more difficult to get a perfect photo, and nearly impossible to develop without access to a darkroom. I have found a few photo labs around the States that do a wonderful job, but have recently discovered my own lab on my computer (after taking digital photography at school this spring). So I've put together a catalogue of my New Zealand photos....they're now on my blog. Check it out here, and let me know what you think. There's something charming about an unedited photograph (especially from a roll of film), but the crisp, clean look I'm becoming familiar with is understandably more relatable to the online world.
I will certainly not give up shooting with film, as it is still more attractive and real-looking to my (personal) eye. But here goes my attempt at a digital-infused world. Enjoy ? ! :P
STEEP MOUNTAINS // DEEP WATERS
I'm finally back in Portillo. It has been 2 years since I last skied here--I was somewhat relieved last summer to skip the Portillo trip and head to Zermatt/Saas Fee instead. The training here is intense. It's steep. The snow typically freezes overnight to a dense, rattly surface. Rarely does the training hill get groomed--so it tends to get fairly bumpy. There's a lot of difficult terrain: jumps, compressions, rolls, dips and edges. The top of the course is close to the steepest pitch we ski on the women's World Cup circuit, and it sustains for 4 downhill turns or 6-8 SG turns. In the early morning the sun doesn't light the course, and when it's overcast you can't see much, which makes it that much more terrifying.
But we've gotten lucky so far this trip. The first four days of training have been spectacular. The sun has shined down on us every day, not a cloud has rolled through to diffuse the light. The snow has frozen perfectly overnight; it has been icy and a bit bumpy, but nothing compared to what it's been in the past. There is more snow here than I have seen in the last 5 years. Our coaches have been preparing the hill perfectly--we even got to ski on a pristine, groomed surface 2 days ago. Skiing at Downhill speeds has been the best thing that has happened to me in a while...riding that edge of control, haste, and delight. We just finished with our first 4 day block, and are heading into the next block tomorrow. The weather looks like it will hold up for a little while longer, so we should get at least 2 more days of superb speed training in. I'm feeling solid on my skis, honing in everything I worked on in New Zealand, and releasing the tension of striving for perfection and instead allowing my natural speed and instinct to take over. I haven't had this feeling in a while. It's exciting.
During our break between New Zealand and Chile I headed to Alaska with my dad for 5 days of quiet splendor. It was spectacular to get away from the grind of being home: unpacking, appointments, errands, bills, mail, repacking, to-do lists. I was able to sit, breathe, and fill myself with the pull and wonder of the mountains jutting up from ocean waters. We stayed in Halibut Cove, which is a tiny coastal town across Kachemak Bay from Homer. I'll write a blog about our trip soon (and about New Zealand), but for now here are some more photographs from my spring (school) adventures.
It feels so right to be back on the snow <3
kayaking around Halibut Cove
FILLING WITH EMPTINESS
there’s a void that desecrates and gratifies my deepest dark….i try to grip myself with the biggest breaths, to fill myself up with the emptiness that i know is the only true mass to being. whatever else occupies this space is only imagined. do i want that substance? often it makes me feel real, significant, inhabiting a place that is only possible to be inhabited by the thing i define myself as. like there is a sort of hole in the world that i fit so perfectly in, shaped as i am at every precise moment, black and dark as the bottom of the ocean, only lit up by this thing i call laurenne. it follows me (or do i follow it), reading and palpating my every moment and thought, knowing my physical being likely better than i do. it’s funny to think of that space existing in the world without me. would it still move and jolt as i would in that moment, if i were still occupying it as materializing my future self? it’s a bit mind-boggling, but fascinating and amusing to think about. i'm ever imagining occupying this funny place and how perfect it is to move with it...pretending that i don't exist as a being at all, but only as a gap between places i go, a cavity breathing in light, a lacuna, filling up with emptiness.
now this void is apparently filled with crisp mountain air, visions of blue boots white gloves purple suits and red/blue flags whizzing by with delight. it's ever-so wonderful to be back in the mountains, in winter, in this space where i feel i jive and fuse within. sliding around all wild and mad, howling at blue moons, wind in my face, mouth open, can't always breathe that well. I LOVE THAT. when you can go so fast that you can no longer comfortably breathe. perhaps that's why i'm always wide-mouthed--searching for air, allowing myself the biggest space to drink the atmosphere in from. what a dream...
what's not a dream is the speed at which the internet runs in this country (or, at least this desolate town of Lake Tekapo). i have a plethora of photos that i took this spring in my photography class i am excited to post (see one above that took 20 minutes to load), but those will have to wait for a day of less historic connections, hopefully sometime soon. keep checking in for an update on my spring/summer thus far, it will come in time :)
this void is out. black as the night, clear as the gale, light as the sky.
As I remain insanely busy with school, working out, etc., I will continue to post a picture a day (on weekdays) through the end of the spring term...which is already approaching quickly!!! How amazingly terrifying! Time does fly....kind of like these upside-down birds... Find my POD link above under the "Yumminess --> Photographs" tab. Or click here. Enjoy the flowers :)
SHRED CAMP 2015
Guys! I finally got my s*** together and set up my camp for this spring! Come join me at Mt. Bachelor on May 2-3 to rip around and have so serious fun. I will be setting up a GS course (GS skis are best, all mountain skis are fine too!), but we will also be free skiing....basically it's all up to you. I can be a drill sergeant or a coach or a friend :) but I'll probably be a combination of the three. Click here for the link to registration!!! See you there :)
BEAUTIFUL YOUNG THINGS
Aiguille du Midi tram, Chamonix, France
Méribel. Chamonix. France. I am already craving the French Alp power, drawn to the splendor, size, and inspiration. I have spoken before of the feeling I get from vast, expansive mountains...feeling small, like the cog of a wheel of some unimaginably-sized machine, plugging away at change and contributing very little to something beyond and above me. And, perhaps it's strange but, I love that feeling. It's humbling, and grounding, and helps me to see more clearly. If only I could feel that all the time, if I could live amongst the trees and enormous granite peaks. Maybe someday I will. After all, it's not out of the question, it's been done before, and perhaps it's where I belong.
Anyhow, France was insane. I'll definitely be returning some day soon. Chamonix was unforgettable: with an incredible crew of friends and such gracious and knowledgable hosts, it couldn't have been better. We yoyo'd across the valley, explored off the Aiguille du Midi, along the Mer de Glace, down the Grand Envers and the Vallée Blanche--exploring glaciers and mountains I never dreamed of (and can't pronounce, or even remember the names of). It. Was. The. Best.
Now I'm in Eugene, OR attending school for the spring term. Check in here for a blog update! It will be the last one for a while, as I will disappear into the bewildering land of studenthood. But while I'm in school this spring, I will be posting a POD (Photo Of the Day) here every week day. I'm taking digital photography this term, so stay tuned for some creativity ;) Peace and love.
free skiing yesterday in Courchevel (that's Alice in the back)
wowowowowwww I am always amazed, and repetitive in my writings I'm certain, with time, how it flies, shifts shakes and rumbles. It is already the middle of March, the very punctilious halfway moment, as it is almost noon on the 15th where I exist, of the first spring month of this endless spring-like winter. Although this may technically be the first month of spring, it has felt so much like spring so many times this winter season. Val d'Isere had the least snow I have ever seen there, and Bad Kleinkircheim...well that is a whole other story. We were attempting to race on the only patch of snow that existed at the resort, and it wasn't even white. I wish I could call it the white-strip-of-death, but it was more like the beige-strip-of-death. What snow they had was so dirty and old, it wasn't even like skiing on real snow. It is so sad and disconcerting to me that our winters are becoming so short and warm...skiing and ski racing are dying sports. I want to share this joy of sliding down snow at incredible speeds with future generations, with children, friends, family, in 20, 30, 60 years from now. But I'm not even sure that will be possible.... Time is passing, and with it the seasons are warping, adapting and arranging themselves according to warmth.
I am now in Meribel, France at the World Cup Finals. As the spring creeps up on me, I am scrambling to finalize spring plans: signing up for classes, organizing spring camps, trying to fit in some ski days. This spring I am attending University in Oregon again, as I have done over the past few years. I couldn't be more excited. I just registered for all of my classes--I'm taking drawing, photography, digital arts, and a global environmental issues course. I'm feverishly looking forward to this last class, as I am oh-so curious about why the snow is disappearing. Although I have some ideas, I'd like to get to the bottom of the environmental problems we have created as a species, and to learn about how we can reverse and further prevent them. I want to ski until the day I die, and I am terribly frightened that this dream may be an impossibility with the way things are heading now.
While the world spins and teeters and heats, I am getting ready for my last World Cup race of the season. I love it here in Méribel--there is so much skiing to be had, so much exploring to be done. We have been here for 5 days, training and taking some time off. On Friday morning after training, Alice and I skied over to Courchevel and romped around there for a few hours--then our hotel manager Martin (#lemoyenne) took us for a tour of the 3 valleys via his ski plane! Which was rad....taking off and landing on the snow....on skis.... hah! Amazing. Yesterday morning we ventured to Val Thorens for some more free skiing. It seems like any time you peak over a crest, into the next valley, the mountains and skiing just go on forever--it is like an endless white dream that you can never reach the edge of. I heard a statistic that Les Trois Vallées has more skiing than the top ten U.S. ski resorts combined. Which sounds ridiculous, but after attempting to ski all of the terrain here, I easily believe it. It took all morning yesterday just to get over to Val Thorens and back, and we barely skied any of the runs. This area is simply incredible, with so much skiing to be had, gorgeous views, and a marvelous party scene ;)
The DH training runs start tomorrow, the DH race is on Wednesday, and the SG is on Thursday. Although I am a bit saddened that the season is almost over, I am somewhat relieved and ready for spring time. I love skiing without goals or plans, to wander on my skis freely and not feel the stress and pressure that the racing season puts on all of us. It will be nice to unpack my bags for a few months, to step into another pair of shoes, to take a few deep breaths and recoup. I will surely be ready for next season when it comes around--I'm sure I'll be ready after a few weeks of rest, as I easily get excited about skiing, especially after extended periods of time off snow. And I really do love racing--the high-energy, the competition, the risk, all of it. After racing here in Méribel, Stacey, Alice and I are heading to Chamonix to free ski for a few days before taking off for U.S. Nationals in Sugarloaf, Maine. I have never been to Mont Blanc in the winter, and I can't wait to free ski on some challenging terrain. The next couple of weeks are going to be a trip, and I'm already amid the craziness! Peace, love, and big, fluffy, cold-winter snow flakes.
the Meribel speed course from our ski plane :)
BACK AND FORTH
Arriving here in Garmisch kind of felt like coming home. Beaver Creek was so intense--high energy, high stress, high altitude... and then it was off to Puerto Rico. Stacey and I took off straight from World Champs. We opted out of a trip home, and instead decided to take a little ocean-vacation, which is always refreshing in the middle of the ski season. We were in PR for a week, and managed to have countless adventures, soak up some sun, and play in the ocean every day during our stay. Read more about it, and see many many photographs here, on my blog. From Puerto Rico we flew straight over to Europe and spent 5 days training around Dorfgastein, one of our Austrian bases for this season. After training in Hintereit (basing out of Dorfgastein) we flew over to Bulgaria. I was looking so forward to this years' trip to Bansko, as I remembered that town and course with great fondness. Not only was I excited to get on that hill again, but I was itching to return to the antique shops where the cameras are plentiful :)
As it turned out, the antique shopping was better than the skiing. For some reason Mother Nature decided to hex us with mass amounts of extremely thick and unrelenting fog. Unfortunately, the fog was so heavy that it proceeded to rot the snow (which was quite icy when we first arrived), and then the snow became another issue. Anyhow, we finally managed to get a few races off--a Super Combined on Sunday, and a Super-G on Monday--and get out of there unscathed.
After a bit of travel (and some adventuring to Neuschwanstein!), we finally arrived in Garmisch last night. It feels good to be back here...this is one of the classic hills that we return to every year, and something about having the American Army base here makes it feel more like home--there are always American fans in the stands, which is comforting and unusual for racing in Europe. I am excited to get on the hill for a training run tomorrow, and even more excited to race Downhill again!!! See below for a few more photos from Bansko, and be sure to check out my blog as I just updated with tons of photos and words ;)
the magician Ales in his ski room doing yoga between brushes
ski room containers
wall of rings and light outside of our hotel in Bansko
1 days, 3 hours and 54 minutes. That's what the banner outside my hotel says; that's when World Championships starts. It's exciting, nerve-racking, and comforting to have this event here in our home country, and it's going to be a tough challenge to step up to. The hill is fo reals. That thing does not mess around. It is relentless. And I'm going to start sending myself down it tomorrow. Wahoo! It's been a while since I've updated, but I just wrote a blog post for T2, so stay tuned for that. You will find it here sometime over the next week. For now, I'm going to throw it back to a few photos I took this fall in Utah. Find those under my "Yumminess-->Photographs" tab at the top of this page. Or simply click here. I'll add more as the days progress. Keep checking in, as I have written some serious thoughts on skiing, presence, and risk and will be posting them, along with photos, on my blog very soon. For now, cheer as loud as you can--we can hear you here in Colorado :)
Because I have had my film camera lately, and haven't had the chance to get my film developed. When you shoot with black and white film, or any film with an ISO speed under 400, you have to get it developed at a photo lab that takes special film (which is now considered old-school, outdated), which you can usually only find in a relatively large city. So I have to either take my film to Portland, or send it to a photo lab in Salt Lake City (because I like their work--Nichol's Photo Lab). Anyhow! I only have iPhone photos from the last few weeks, which I have a hard time blowing up to blog-size images because of their seemingly unworthy computer-sized quality. But I will write some words on where my physical being and inner mind have traveled of late.
If you're looking for some new-age entertainment, I put together a video for Reusch, our glove sponsor, and released it on the day after X-mas. You can find that under my 'Yumminess--Videos' tab, or simply click here. We dubbed ourselves the "Speed Unicorns" because we thought it was simultaneously stupid, awesome, and silly. "We" are Leanne Smith, Alice McKennis, Stacey Cook, Jacqueline Wiles, and myself. Please watch the video! It's the first one I've created in a few years, but it felt good to work with Final Cut Pro again. I had familiarized myself with the program relatively thoroughly a few years ago, but decided to focus my attention on other things over the last few years (music, art)...so it took a few days to get back in the groove.
Since the last time I updated, I raced in the DH and Super-G in Val d'Isere, France. The DH didn't go as planned--although I was speedy on the upper part of the course, I forgot my inner-ninja on the lower section and ended up in the fence. Alas! I emerged with out even one scratch on my face. I skied off with some bumps and bruises, sore but not disheartened. Although, I did break a pair of particularly fast skis that my technician Aleš had worked so hard on. That was certainly the most regrettable part of my day. Fortunately I have another pair that I can race on! And I gathered the strength and courage to race in the Super-G the next day, which went relatively well considering what happened the day before.
I traveled to Canmore, Alberta for X-mas with my family, which was gorgeous (as usual) and grounding. There is something about being in those vast Canadian Rockies that makes me feel so minuscule, humbled, and present. Although it can be a bit depressing--feeling small and unimportant almost opens me up, empties me, helps me to feel alive, real, and to live where I am in this moment right now. To understand that the mountains move, too, creates a sense of continuity, of connectedness and flow. Maybe I have no significant role in this world, but neither does a single fleck of dust, a skipping stone, a river boulder, a mountain. As a whole we create this space and time which we call here and now, we are all a part of the turning and jostling and whirling of this silly sphere. Somehow, although it will all be gone someday, I can feel like I am contributing something, like I am a part of something more tremendous, like what I ever hold in my hands at any single moment was once a part of another being--be it star, spider, seahorse, sisters of my greatest grand-parents. Maybe it sounds cliché and nonsensical, but the mountains are the explanation to my existence, what make me feel alive and grounded, the jelly to my peanut-butter.
Well that's enough mumbo-jumbo for now. After my life-changing (heh) trip to Canada, I returned home to Bend, OR for a few days before taking off for four grueling days of training on the World Champs hill in Beaver Creek. Our time there was incredibly productive--challenging and merry, snowy and American. It was great to have a short camp in the States before returning here to Europe for another 3 weeks of traveling and racing. So refreshing, like a Mimosa by a bonfire, or a PBR on a cold, snowy evening. But nothing lasts forever (the Tetons grow, on average, 1 cm per year! but most mountains are shrinking, due to erosion. the Tetons are young ;) and active) and now I'm back here in Austria.
I am sitting in my adorable little cabin, talking with Jackie about mountain growth and listening to the gentle rain pitter-patter on my tin roof. Although this sound is often comforting and allows me to breathe deeply, it is a bit worrisome considering the fact that we are supposed to race Downhill tomorrow. There is already not much snow out on the hill here in Bad Kleinkircheim, and this water certainly is not helping. But all I can do is hope for the best, let the sounds lull me to sleep, and hope the jet-lag doesn't interfere. We'll see what I open my window to in the morning.
VIVE LA FRANCE
Actually, that's Lake Louise (above). heh. But I am currently in France! I got to Val d'Isere late on Tuesday night, and have been watching the snow fall lightly since then. Although there is an apparent lack of snow on the mountain, it is beautiful in town and seems to be wintry/Christmasy enough here. But for now I'll touch a bit on Lake Louise and then return to my present place of existence.
riding the chair with these babes on our second day of training in Lake Louise (Stacey Cook, Alice McKennis, myself, and Katie Ryan)
Lake Louise was a crazy whirlwind, a blast, a pleasant surprise, a peachy lesson. I came into the first race with not much of an idea of how fast I was going to be this year--although I had won a Super-G FIS race just prior to the season opener in Lake Louise, I was unsure of where I was going to stack up against the World Cup field. It is always hard for me to know, because I am typically quite fast in training all summer, even when skiing with other World Cup teams. I can be one of the fastest girls on the course for the expanse of our summer training, but when it comes to racing I don't always ski up to my abilities. So after the first race run in Lake Louise (I just barely missed the podium, and ended up 4th!), I knew I had the capacity to compete with the fastest girls in the world. That was the boost of confidence that I needed, and I carried it over into the second day of DH, when I placed 6th. While skiing down the course on the second Downhill day, I had a bad feeling on my skis--I knew I was in the back seat, and although I was carrying my speed well, I had the sensation of simply surviving the whole way down. I know that if I can ski aggressively and in a good position, I can be really fast and competitive in World Cup speed races this year. So I am taking that into this weekend, and the rest of the season.....
getting silly with the frisbee
a new way of inspecting....
After racing in Lake Louise we immediately set off for Beaver Creek. We spent 3 days on the Birds of Prey training Super-G and Downhill with the men. It was intense. It was icy. It was fast. It was steep. It was frightening. But it actually turned out to be quite enjoyable. We took it easy and started a bit lower than the men (thank goodness). Although we won't be racing on that hill for the World Championship races in February, it was wonderful to ski on the Colorado snow, get used to the steep terrain, and feel what the boys feel when they run the Birds of Prey course!
training on the Birds of Prey--yes, I wore my pants for the first two runs! thanks to Jonathan Selkowitz for the photo!
After getting a little wind in my face, I got to return home to Oregon for a few days of rest before flying over here to France. It was lovely to be home, albeit for a short 3 days. I hope when I return next there is a bit more snow on the mountain...
But, for now, I am here. Val d'Isere, France is one of my favorite places to race. The course is fun, the town is gorgeous, the crêpes delicious, and the free skiing has been some of the best I've ever had. Unfortunately our first training run was canceled today, so we're all holed up inside our hotel, waiting for the fog to clear and crossing our fingers that they'll pull this thing off. Apparently the lack of snow here is consistent throughout the whole of this continent. There is a very shallow layer of hollow, bally snow between the grass and the few inches of new snow that has fallen over the last 24 hours. Supposedly there are rocks on our course. It doesn't sound too positive, but I'm remaining optimistic and hopeful, as I am craving to get back in the start gate. So send your positive vibes, do a snow dance, and cross your fingers, eyes, toes, arms, and legs for us! Until next time.... be well, enjoy the Holidays, and celebrate a new year coming.
I am here in Copper, Colorado, still training and prepping for Lake Louise. The weather has been incredibly wintery over the last 10 days since I've returned from California....and it's so blissful. I love the peaceful feeling of the snow falling gently (or whipping harshly) against the rooftops and brushing my nose. There is plenty of snow here now; it is a different world compared to that which we arrived in 3 weeks ago--brown fields and snowless mountains. There was no snow to be seen at the base of Copper, and now there are excessive amounts. Although the snow is not particularly hard or superb for training, I must admit I enjoy the snowy environment much more than the bleak, brown one we were in a few weeks ago (despite the high-quality training).
On Wednesday after training I head back to Oregon for a few days before taking off to Lake Louise. The race season is approaching quickly, and I am getting anxious, nervous, excited, jittery. I'm afraid and feverish to get in the gate and see what I can accomplish this season. I have been working so hard all summer on preparing my body and mind for the work/play I will face this winter. Many long hours have I spent in the gym, lifting colorful weights, putting myself in silly positions, building my muscles to a bulky, ridiculous size. Hopefully it will pay off--at least I know I have no regrets.
When I was in Park City this summer I snapped some photographs with my film camera in the Center of Excellence. I have always been interested in negotiating an alternative perspective from which to view the gym life. It is insane to think of how much time I spend in the gym, and I wanted to gain some respect for the equipment I use everyday, and show myself (and you) how to see things differently. So I will post some of these film takes under my 'photographs' section (in the 'yumminess' tab). I have been taking more film photos throughout the summer and fall that I will post as well. You can also find some of these on my Instagram ( lalalaurenne ) and under the hashtags #coefilmtakes #negotiatingexcellence and #laurennesfilmeye please ENJOY. (samples above and below)
ARRIVAL / DEPARTURE / SWITZERLAND
photo cred: Mike Arzt // The Public Works
Why does time seem to progress so impossibly rapidly when you use it up like it's fictitious? Like you know somebody just needed to put a number to a theory and you have to live by it because it's representational for every other human. Sometimes I wonder if my dog keeps track of the days, of the years, of minutes and seconds. Is she thinking, "oh shit, the sun is going down, which means I won't be going out to play any more today... and also I forgot to fluff my bed this morning... and do those other chores... and now I'm a day older and... oh I'm going to have to pay for this." Meanwhile I'm realizing I haven't blogged in a month, I forgot to call my Grandma in October, forgot to get my sprinklers blown out, to see my financial advisor, to get that 6th skein of yarn my knitting pattern called for and now. now I'm screwed. I'm going to have to use a different color than I anticipated and that is just plain catastrophic. I may not make it home until March, I only have enough (of my favorite Oregon) tea for 45 days, I have bought/made zero Christmas presents, I don't even have plans for them, and I forgot my passport in my bedroom.
But then I go back and think about my dog. About how she doesn't care if she'll have a ball thrown for her again today, or if her bed is perfectly made--she only knows she wants to cuddle right here right now no matter what or with whom, and it doesn't care who walks through the door she is ECSTATIC to see them. Which is somehow refreshing. Because then I realize that my sweater will just be more colorful than I planned, my tea and Christmas presents more exotic, and my blog posts more in depth.
Perhaps that's not what you fancy from a blogger--once-a-month-overwhelmingly-loaded-with-photos posts. But that's me, because I'm a procrastinator (in this way probably more than any other), and I'd rather be where I am than talk about where I was. One of the only reasons I convince myself to maintain my website is because it is an excuse go through old photos. I can step back into that spot I was standing last month, last year, when I was 18, and see what I saw through the lens. Smells, tastes, feelings, thoughts, hunger that I was experiencing at the time flood back and rip through my bloodstream, twist my nerves and tickle my longing and that is why I blog. That is why I take photos. That is why I write. Well, other than the fact that I feel writing is the only way to accurately express myself. And since I've had to talk myself into being in front of this computer, to compile photos and stream together some arbitrary words, and since you've already read up to this point....you might as well check out my blog (<--- click there) to see some photos, read about what I'm up to, where I've been, and what I'm thinking about what I thought.
For now, I'm in Copper, CO, doing many-a-snow-dance and training on two silly strips of man-made snow. They are quite nice strips, I must say. Narrow and compacted, wintery and white, with not too many rocks to speak of. Today was my 3rd day on snow, and we have been training GS every morning. There is not much speed training to speak of here in Colorado right now, but it is starting to cool down and there is apparently a mass amount of snow in the forecast next week... HALLELUJAH. I hope and pray and sing to the forecast's truth.
But for now I'll just have to remember what the falling snow looks and feels like, and take advantage of some gate-hunting on the man-made strips we have available.
(a film shot in Park City-- see see see my BLOG for more photographs and writing)
Actually, I'm in Zermatt, Switzerland now. But it has been forever since I have updated, blogged, etc. so here I am, taking a day off and catching up with my technological/social-media life. Since arriving home from New Zealand, I have been insanely busy--building a paver patio in my back-yard with Leanne and Dustin, prepping for Dana's--my high-school bestie's--wedding (I was a bridesmaid and played violin/sang in the ceremony), taking a getaway on the Oregon coast, and packing for my trip here in Switzerland.
So I'm decisively revisiting my blogging life. First and foremost I want to post some pictures and thoughts on New Zealand. Check those out here, on my blog (or see tabs above, under Home).
Since New Zealand I have been up to a bit of craziness. I spent ten days building a paver patio in my back-yard. The results of which look like this!
I also got myself a new tattoo ;0
the three sisters in Alberta on the left and the Oregon three sisters on the right
Although I had little time to myself at home, I managed to escape from the madness for a few days and enjoy some surf in Newport with a few friends.
I also got to climb a bit out at Smith, which was nice. And go cliff jumping at Steelhead falls!
But now I'm back in the zone. Practicing my turns, my focus, and soaking up the Swiss-alp scenery, fondue, and glacial snow. It feels good to be back on my skis--every day I become a better skier; learning more about my equipment, my balance (in all senses of the term), my zeal and myself. More on that later. For now, check out New Zealand from my eyes and mind--pictures, words, love.
UTAH // UPDATE
I made it through. Attending school is something I look forward to every single year--but by the end of the spring term I become so sleep deprived and my brain so full of information that I yearn to just take a nap, to go to the gym and not think about my art projects and due dates while lifting weights, and to actually have a social life. Now the spring term is over and I'm in Park City, Utah. I am inspired by many of the things I learned this term, and I'm thrilled to have some time to do projects of my own. And to play music. Mostly I'm so happy to be able to just sit down and play some music.
As it is, I am going to start posting some videos of music again. I have just uploaded the first one to Vimeo, and will begin working on more as soon as I get used to the guitar in my hands again. Click here to check it out...more to come!
A brief update on school: I took a ceramics class, 3d studio art, social psychology, and an art studies class. It was a great combination of courses, but having 2 studio classes was tough. My art studies class was interesting in the sense that I learned how to really look at art under a different light. We had a weekly presentation given by many of the art professors at U of O on their personal work, so it was really wonderful to see all of the amazing art creation that is happening around UO. My ceramics class was probably my favorite. I went above and beyond all of the requirements because I was just so intrigued by the process of working with clay. Beginning with a hunk of wet clay and ending with a beautifully fired piece is such an unbelievable process. It is nearly impossible for the final product to come out as you first envisioned it, but that was something about ceramics that I loved so much. We did a pinched project, we did slab-building, coil-building, sculpture forms, functional forms, wheel-throwing, glazing, raku-firing, SO MANY wonderful processes that I can't wait to learn more about in the future... I took a bunch of pictures of my work, so perhaps I'll post a few of those soon. My Social Psychology class was so incredibly relevant to my everyday life--I kept referring back to facts that I learned in psychology when observing everyday events. I'm sure it was annoying for the people around me, but it really made me understand the world as a different place. And my 3d studio art class was really fascinating as well. My favorite part was working in the wood shop--for my final project I built these triangular prisms out of wood and covered them with fabric. Here are a few photos of them in Hendrix Park:
Getting all of the miter angles to work together was insanely difficult...I went through a lot of time-consuming trial and error. Yikes. But they turned out pretty and silly...Allana (my older sister) already started using them as awkward dice.
Well, that's it for now. Instead of posting more words, I am going to work on my projects and post videos/pictures every so-often. So stay tuned for more.... and happy summer!!!
It has been an insane ski season. I have been so to many places, mentally and physically, through so many lows, a few highs, and lots of in-betweens. I'm glad it's over, and I'm really looking forward to next season--I'm already hungry and ready for the prep period. I have some things to work on in my skiing, and I anticipate stepping up to that challenge with zest and an open mind. But for now, it's spring time...
Which means it's me time. I am attending the spring semester at the University of Oregon in Eugene--I just started on Monday and I've already missed half of my classes! But with good reason...I am in Washington, D.C., immersing myself back in the Olympic scene and (ahem) meeting the President. Yup. I met Barrack and Michelle Obama today. That was a pretty neat experience. I got to tour around the White House and explore the government scene--something seemingly very distant from what I do. But it was interesting to make some connections that I hadn't previously realized existed between my self, my sport, and my governing body. NEAT! As for school...I am so happy to be back in that environment! It's so wonderful to just turn a page and be able to lead a completely different life from what I lead the rest of the year. At the same time, it's quite a shock to my brain that I haven't received in a while, and can be a bit overwhelming. It is certainly teaching me time-management and how to open up and think critically again. I love it. BAH! More on all of this later....stay tuned for a blog post soon! For now, check out my Shred with Laurenne camp by clicking on the purple link! I am hosting another camp at Bachelor next weekend, and there are only 12 spots available, so hurry and sign up! I will set a GS course in the morning for training, but there will definitely be some free-skiing as well. Basically, what we do, where we ski, how we ski (one-ski, anyone?) is totally up to you, the campers. See you next weekend!
So I guess it's all over now. The Olympics flew by--I soaked it up and drank it in and then... it was gone. Just like that. I guess I was thirsty. But I definitely got some vitamin D! Read more here. But now I'm here in Crans Montana, Switzerland! We came here to race in a World Cup 4 years ago...but now we're on a totally new hill. Which is awesome. I love learning new courses, and it's all the better when every racer has to learn a course for the first time. It makes the first training run exciting! And that's tomorrow.... so here we go....
I got to go back to the states for a few days after Sochi. It was impossibly beautiful. I elected not to return to Bend, as I wanted to avoid the real world: obligations, appointments, bills, etc. So I stayed in San Francisco/Bodega Bay/Oakland/Santa Rosa. I got to surf, learn to kite (didn't quite get to the board part), go to a Phantogram concert, and explore. It was nice to feel a touch of warmth and the approach of spring...I'm looking forward to the grasses greening, birds chirping, and going to learn some things at University. I plan on taking classes at UO this spring, and couldn't be more thrilled. Learning and growing and not sleeping and writing writing so much writing. I can't wait.
But for now, I am here in Switzerland. It is a gorgeous place, surrounded by vast mountain ranges. Unfortunately there isn't much snow here this year...but it looks like the race hill is prepared well so I look forward to getting on that thing tomorrow! This life, this crazy crazy life, I am in it again. So now I submerge. love and peace.
Check out my blog to keep up with me while I'm in Sochi. I found an app so I can update my blog on my handy-dandy cellular telephone! I'll try to update with pictures and words daily. Send your fast and positive vibes my way while you're at it :)
So it's official. I am heading to the Olympics. I'm now on the road to Sochi, getting prepared both physically and mentally for a crazy ride of my life. I'm currently in Reinswald, Italy at a short training camp before we head to Munich tomorrow for processing. We're staying at this beautiful hotel called Bad Schörgau--it is the perfect place to relax and get ready for the whirlwind that will occur over the next few weeks. There is a beautiful spa: saunas, pools, hot-tubs, relaxation rooms. The food is absolutely astounding--my taste-buds and mind have literally been blown away every single day. The training was great for two days, but then it started to snow. Hard. And it hasn't yet ceased... so we've been doing a little adventuring and a whole lot of nothing. Yesterday we drove down to Bolzano to get a workout in, and on our way back up we stopped at Runkelstein Castle. Neat! I will be updating my webpage over the next few weeks of Olympic adventures. Keep checking in for photos and more! I will also be updating my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Hurrah! USA!!!
Here I am again. Among the beautiful Dolomites, draped in snowy white, jutting rocky peaks. It's different every time, whether because of the weather, the skies, the hotel, or my mind. Currently, I'm noticing those mental differences. I'm not sure if they're due to my inner state, my phase, my skiing, my perceptions and understandings or perhaps all of the above. I've taken advantage of skiing so fast over the last few years, building up my technique and confidence, understanding what it is to ski fast, understanding what it is to ski slow. But never have I had a season like this one.... My best World Cup result this year is 20th. I haven't scored a single point in Super-G. I come through the finish and look up often dumbfounded. I'm working as hard as ever, stronger than ever, putting everything I have into this, and it's not quite coming back. I haven't been sleeping well, I'm feeling it in my blood and in my bones, and I'm running out of patience. It's a thin line that I'm walking, with the Olympic team selections approaching on Sunday--I basically have the next three days to perform. It's amazing how positive and playful I have remained through all of this, how trusting and open I have managed to be. I am proud of myself, and humiliated at the same time. I'm figuring things out, and then they're falling apart at my feet. If anything, I'm learning to be modest and growing to be grounded. I've always known I was impatient, but now I'm testing myself and, if nothing grand or monumental, I'm getting to know myself. Aside from skiing, I've been playing/writing music: on my guitar and on my Push (check it out). I've been cross-country skiing with my teammates and reading a lot, journaling, and watching Downton Abbey, my current fave. I'm staying happy, as I know that doesn't come from results, but I'm certainly fighting for it and learning how to dig deep to cultivate it. Though it's not the best time of my life, I'm growing because of it. Check out my blog for some recent photos.
SKIS OFF, HOMEWARD BOUND
It has been a lengthy, grueling, and somewhat painful opening of my ski season. I have been struggling to figure out a comfortable setup on snow that I have not yet skied on with my new equipment (until the World Cup races in Beaver Creek). But it is slowly coming together and despite the struggles I have thus far endured this winter I somehow feel happy and hopeful. I'm heading to Canada now for X-mas with the family. It will be a very short break, and then it's back to Europe for some training before Zauchensee. I haven't been taking many photographs this year (my camera phone does the trick!), but what I have shot I will post soon. For now I have basically written a journal entry...check out my blog on star dust, existence, and hope. Happy Christmas and very cheery Holidays. love is in the air.
Here I am. First race of the year... I am excited, nervous, ready. Anxious for the race season to begin. I have recently realized that I'm getting sick of training. Run after run. Time after time. Tweaking equipment. Tweaking technique. Tweaking mindsets. I'm ready to forget everything and just ski. Training takes a lot of thinking, preparing, changing. Racing just takes knowing. Belief that you have prepared. Confidence in your skills. Calm in your intellect. Although it's incredibly difficult to realize and maintain the right mindset, the fast mindset, when you find it it feels right. It feels easy and fluid. It's just a matter of getting there....and I am looking forward to stepping up to that challenge this season and discovering my potential. In all aspects. Whatever happens, if I'm slow or fast, smooth or misshapen, I want to enjoy myself. I just want to go out there and ski. Forget everything I've learned. Do it for me, for the fresh air, for the mountains and the sky and the adventure. Just go out there and ski. So here I go....
BACK ON IT
It's becoming chilly outside. Days are getting darker, wind is rustling my branches, and snow is around the bend.... I'm excited for ski season. And I'm also excited to delve back into my blogging life. I constantly feel the need to blog, but I feel similarly about blogging as I feel about GoPro'ing. Which is lame, unless it has to do with my skiing life. I can video all the flying, training, water skiing, mountain biking, and silliness that I want...but it's not nearly as exciting as my ski racing life. Luckily, my ski racing life is about to begin again. And, hopefully, my blogging will consequently frequent itself as well. For now (as I become anxious)...I am going to post some pictures. Picture blog!
Here I am. Back in Portillo. Back in these beautiful, crazy mountains. Amidst the cliffs, snow, water, and sky. In this mad, still time-warp. It is elementally identical every single year: I'm staying in the exact same room, regardless if it's a different number. I'm skiing the exact same slopes: sometimes a little less snow, sometimes a little more snow, sometimes icy, sometimes slushy. I'm eating the exact same foods, walking the same paths, breathing the same air, viewing the same sights. It's like I'm reliving my past--it's dreamy. Yellow, blue, white, black. Foggy, sleepy, congruent. But every year I seem to get excited, regardless of the similarities and repetitions. The training is challenging, sometimes frightening. The people are kind. I know I'll find old friendships and I'm likely to create new ones every year I'm here. I learn something new every single day: every turn I make, every chair I ride, every video session. It's amazing that something so familiar can be so refreshing and awakening. Sometimes rude, but often crisp. I love it here and hate it here at the same time. I'm always glad to arrive, and always grateful to return home. It's a strange addiction, Portillo.... it's an old friend: reliable and attentive. It's the motionless, calm stop I can barely breathe with every year. And I'm so happy to be here, so happy to immerse myself in this insanity, and learn from my affinity with it. It's one of those things that just is. Never changing yet always absorbing. Here I am. Back in Portillo.
El Colorado has been incredible. Cold. Snowy. Love. I just realized (again) that I am obsessed with skiing. Check out my blog post, from down south...
But I always return home. It's a bit of a funny concept to me--home. I spend more time away from it than I do in it, so it seems that my home is truly the road, the skies, the mountains, the wild. But to have a place to return to is something I find more and more warming every time I do so. And now I'm home. In my bed. In my home head. In my homestead. And yes to that.
Another plane. Another day. Another dollar. Okay I don't know about the dollar part but it sounds neat. I guess I am not really spending dollars on this trip, but I just bought a coffee so I suppose that counts. I am, once again, sitting in the Redmond (Bend) airport, waiting for my plane to LA, where I will board another plane to San Diego, where I will arrive at my temporary destination (1 week) and get my ass kicked. I can't wait. I used to dread these conditioning camps. Don't get me wrong, I am not necessarily looking forward to doing sprints on the beach, carrying people through water, paddling around ocean buoys and probably vomiting a little--but I am kind of excited to feel that exhaustion at the end of a hard day, sleep like a baby (although I don't really understand that phrase), and push my limits. Olympic Training Center, here I come.... Plus, after my conditioning camp this week I get to head to Kona with my family for a week. YES. Can't wait. I haven't been blogging lately, but I have been posting some photos (of the day!) on my "Photographs" page under the Yumminess tab (or click here). There has not been a new picture every single day, but when I remember I try to post a neat picture to share some love. It's not officially summer! Although the last 3 weeks have felt quite like summer, it's nice to enjoy the long days and breezy summer nights. I am already looking forward to being back in Bend with my friends: playing music, climbing, living a home life. It's been lovely. But for now--time for some struggle and hopefully some good surf :)
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Because I have been so awesomely slacking (mostly because I haven't had time) lately, I am going to revert to the photo of the day feature to keep you updated on my life. Please click on the Photographs link under the Yumminess tab to see each Photo of the day. For now, here is photo #1, 2013:
Tommy took this one. He is also in it (see top). We were in the middle of our coast trip down at Tillicum campground near Yachats, Oregon. Thanks Tommy :)
Whoa. Over the last (almost!) 2 months I have been the most awful, no-good, very-bad, terrible blogger. As in, I have not blogged once. And as you can see (below), my last update was when I was in Ofterschwang, Germany, which was even before World Cup Finals. Yikes. Well, as it turned out, I ended up pile driving into yet another fence in Lenzerheide, Switzerland during the first DH training run of the Finals. So that really shook me up, pissed me off, left me bitter and wanting to give up. I almost threw in the towel on that day--whew. That was a horrific day. I took a step back to rethink my life, my plan, my path. ALAS! I got a few good nights of sleep, free skied a bit (while all the speed races at Finals were cancelled), and got back on that horse that I have fallen off of OH so many times. Hopefully I don't have to do that too many more times or I'm definitely done for. Anyhow... Check out my blog for some more words and pics!
After my weekend in Garmisch I was pretty pumped up and happy with my skiing. I had a few days of good GS training leading into the GS race here in Ofterschwang yesterday, but still couldn't manage to send it enough. Being a 4 event skier is insane and almost stupid, as I have found while trying to be great at 3 events (just silly. but great fun!). I have always loved GS, and I used to rip it. I still do from time to time, but it's really tough to be confident in your skiing when you don't train very often and you still have 12 focuses as you ski down the course. And that was definitely part of my problem yesterday. I have been working on so many technique issues that I forget to go straight and deep--I can't help but hook the bottom of the turn and over-ski the shit out of the course. It just feels too good! So I've got to work on that.... I think I should work on my points, too, because starting 6th from last isn't exactly easy either. Well, DH and SG, I'm moving on... Not really. Speed is so fun, I don't think I could ever give it up. Besides, I don't believe that I have to. Skiing more GS is only going to help my speed, and I want to focus on what I'm best at anyway. Speaking of which, I am heading to Lenzerheide, Switzerland today for the World Cup Finals in Downhill and Super G. Last time I went to Lenzerheide I was there at finals for only Super G, and it ended up pouring rain the day of the SG race, so I didn't even get to go out on the hill. So, it's going to be another new course for me! Yipee! I am a bit sad to leave our hotel here in Ofterschwang, as it is like a miniature utopia city. The food has been incredible, the spa and pool rejuvenating, and hanging out with the tech girls has been real fun and spicy (especially rooming with Resi). But, as it always does, life moves on (fast!) and I'm headed to the last world cup race of the year! Then it's off to a few NorAm races and Nationals in Squaw (can't wait!) to wrap up the season. Come out to support and watch us rip in Cali if you can :)
What a crazy crazy weekend! After two average training runs on Wednesday and Thursday, I was really happy to be able to throw a good run down in Super G on Friday. I got 9th that day...little did I know what was to come on Saturday...
And then I skied like I have been aspiring to all year. My downhill run was far from perfect, but I stuck my nose in it, tucked like a little bullet, and pulled off some skiing that I know I should have been enjoying all year. It's been a tough year, like I wrote about in one of my previous posts (see Schladming, Austria below), and my skiing has been quite inconsistent. But I found a groove yesterday that I forgot I had. I discovered a crazy fiery fiendish ski racer in myself. And I managed to pull off my first World Cup podium of my career! WAHOO YEHAW YEWWWW
Today was a little rough; I had a hard time sleeping last night because I was so excited (and I couldn't breathe through my nose cause of my silly sickness). I woke up feeling a little worn down from all the excitement, but confident in my skiing and ready to try and accomplish the same thing in Super G. I had a great run on the top half of the course, was carrying some heat and wonder when I decided to sit back, lean in, and make a silly mistake all on the most difficult turn on the course.... so that didn't work out too well! But I still ended up 22nd and am extremely pumped about my electric weekend.
And I feel so much better about my skiing. I now know that I have that racing ability inside of me, and I am going to take that forth, harness my inner she devil and keep on pushing myself over the next few weeks.
It's crazy to think that the ski season is almost over....I only have two more WC speed races left this year! Sad :(. But I am looking forward to this weekend; I am heading to Offterschwang, Germany to race the World Cup GS on Saturday. For now I am back in Sölden taking some time off before a few days of training for Saturday's race. Which is wonderful, because I'm exhausted after such an exhilarating weekend...
So it's off to bed. Bye for now :)
WHOA. That place was incredible. From the scenery to the vast amounts of skiing to the snow conditions, I couldn't imagine Meribel being more perfect. The DH course was relatively slow, but had nice hero snow and was still pretty fun. I had a tough time trying to figure out my equipment, but I definitely learned a lot from this past weekend and I can't wait to return to Meribel in two years for finals. The Super Combined was pretty good: I was 12th in the DH portion, and ended up 15th overall. I believe that's my best World Cup Super Combi finish yet? Either way, it was a fun day (other than getting hit in the face by a slalom gate! fat lip!). I am now here in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. We had our first training run today: the snow was wonderful and the weather beautiful. Hopefully mother nature keeps this up over the rest of the season. I think she's paying us back for all of that awful weather we had at the beginning of the year! We'll see.... :)
World Championships. It's got a ring--a tinge of substance and ferocity. It's a substantial piece in my ski racing puzzle. It's where I am now.
Being part of such a fast team is compelling and demanding. Knowing I am a part of it, I sometimes have a hard time living up to it. This season has been the best of my ski racing career so far, and yet it sometimes seems insignificant compared to my teammates. It's been tough feeling like the slow one on my team, tough to not compare myself to others, tough to be happy with my results when I feel I should be up there with the others. What's really hard is not getting a spot in my best event in the biggest race of the year...not because I don't deserve it, but because others deserve it more.
But somehow I'm smiling. Because I know it's only one day, it's only one race out of many that I will be lucky enough to race in. I'm trying to be easy on myself, to breathe, to not be so narrow minded. After all, this is only ski racing....
And it's been fun! Racing in the Super G was a wonderful opportunity. I certainly didn't ski my best, but I did take a step back and I saw the bigger picture. I realized some things that I have lately forgotten, things that are of the utmost importance to not only my happiness but to my sanity. There is a lot going on in this world, and I'm like a little ant among mounds and endless mounds. I sometimes think I am bigger and stronger than the rest, but I forget that I'm just standing on ground. I'm just a two-legged creature, trying to touch the sky like everyone else--connected and breathing. So that's weird.
Aside from that crazy stuff, I am planning on sticking around for the team event here in Schladming! I'm excited to race in some parallel slalom to see what I can do. I am certainly not a slalom skier, but I'll be comforted by the panels and fired up by another person racing next to me... so we'll see! The Super Combined was actually pretty good. My downhill run was great, though it wasn't in the best of light. I tried sending it in the slalom as well--things got a little out of control, but I somehow made it to the finish line and got 11th :) I knew that if I didn't give it my all I would regret it in the finish, and I am trying to avoid regret like the plague. By now I have figured out that if I ski passively and carefully my heart only sinks at the bottom. I know what's inside of me (some sort of slalom devil--among other devils--is in there and I KNOW it), and I want that light to show more often, instead of the one that I'm comfortable with.
It's all coming together, and I'm anxiously awaiting the next speed race. For now, I'll work on my paneled slalom and my mental game (life). HIYA!
We just got to Schladming last night after a training camp in Ultental, Italy. I think it was our first training camp since the prep period that we successfully pulled off some good training... and it was so fun. It was awesome to get back on my speed skis in a setting other than a race course. I got a really good feeling and found my tempo. I am still trying to figure out some equipment issues, but I am definitely getting close to the right setup. We skied two days of downhill and two days of super-g. It was all quite enjoyable... getting some wind in the face was really wonderful after my lovely vacation in the Canary Islands. Overall, the last 2 weeks really haven't been too bad....
The free-ski on the hill (for SG) was canceled tomorrow, so you can imagine how much snow is falling from the sky. It's quite the contradistinction to the last time we were here (RAIN RAIN RAIN)! There is certainly enough snow to race now...and it doesn't seem to want to stop coming down. It's nice to be back in winter. I am psyched to get out there and race the Super G on Tuesday...maybe there will even be some powder skiing sometime while I'm here. It seems that it is certainly going to be an option!
Good thing I love the snow. yeehaw.
Here are some pictures I took when I was in St. Anton. I'll be making a blog post and will put up many-a-picture very soon (as I have tons that have piled up over the last month...). enjoy.
wandering the streets
Leanne lookin' snazzy as usual
Alice. WINNING. Oh I'm up there somewhere too :)
trees. mountains. whatever.
checking out the scenery in St. Anton, Austria with Leanne and Abby (Alice's jacket, see right upper corner)
I am in Puerto Calero, Lanzarote sitting out on my porch looking at the palm trees and the ocean, soaking up some sun. It feels so lovely. Stacey and I just got done with our morning work out, and we're about to head out for lunch, camel rides on the volcano, and to perhaps jump in the ocean on the black sand beach (on the south-western side of the island). We are staying on the eastern side of the island. The transition from snowy Munich to here was quite strange, this isn't typical for a mid-season break. I think it will be good for both of us, though: refreshing and revitalizing....thus far we've had a great time. We landed yesterday at 130 at the Fuertaventura airport, rented our car (A PANDA!!!!!!) and drove to the ferry in Corralejo. The ferry ride was extremely rough, but thankfully it was quite short, and before we knew it we were driving off the ferry into the sun--sand dunes at our side and palm trees lining the roads. It was a strange adjustment yesterday--my head was foggy and my lungs and skin confused with the mass amounts of humid oxygen. But I'm starting to get used to it, as my white white skin is warmed and kissed by the heavy hot sun. Well, it's time to head out. The camels are spitting my name.
I just realized I forgot to post while I was in Cortina... how silly! Cortina. Such a fun downhill course, and always the most wonderful snow. It was a really fun weekend. Yeah I guess that's all :) OH and congrats to Lindsey on the win, and Leanne on her 2nd
ST. ANTON, AUSTRIA
What a weekend! We had some pretty crazy days of training and racing in St. Anton this last week. I have to say I almost pooped my pants on the first training run last Thursday. I went early when the light was very dark and it was extremely fast, bumpy, and hard. So that was an interesting first run of downhill in almost a month! Yikes. But the snow came in hard on Thursday evening and we had to cancel our training run on Friday due to more than 30 cm on the top part of the course. Thankfully the snow let up and we were able to get the race off on Saturday, because it was definitely questionable! The snow was pretty soft in the DH race, which made the course feel much easier than it felt on Thursday. The start was moved down to the Super G start due to bad snow up top, so it was quite the sprint of a Downhill! But skiing through the finish was a relief and a buzz, especially when I looked up to see that Alice was winning! And, despite her expectations, she remained on top that day and crushed her first World Cup podium AND victory! I came in 5th, Lindsey was 6th, and Leanne and Julia tied for 15th, so it really was not a bad day for the Americans (with 4 in the top 15).
The Super G the next day was a little different from the Downhill. The snow managed to harden up quite a bit and it became quite the rodeo with bumps and ruts! It was not my best performance (I came in 17th), but I was thankful to get the wind in my face as many of our attempted skiing days have been shot down by mother nature lately. It was beautifully sunny for the Downhill and Super G races, so perhaps our luck is turning around... One can only hope. Either way, I'm psyched to head to Cortina on Wednesday for another weekend of speed. Waahhooooo!!!!! Check out my blog for some pictures that I took over Xmas break :)
Here I am, sitting in my hotel, watching the grounds drench and the trees bow to the wind. I think last year it was the same: warm and slushy on the hill, almost too mushy to ski on at finals. But with the time off I am left bored and willingly forced to write. So here is a blog post. Enjoy.
VAL D'ISERE, FRANCE
I'm amazed we made it out of that place... what a crazy weekend! Before heading to Val d'Isere, we heard that it had been non-stop snowing there since December 1st. After watching the men's GS and SL race, it was clear that there was a ridiculous amount of snow and that the world cup races were difficult to host. It's tough to turn 3 meters of fluffy powder into compact, raceable snow, but the crew in Val d'Isere did an incredible job to make it happen.
On the day that we arrived in Val d'Isere (Monday), it was still dumping snow. We had Tuesday off, and woke up to even more snow falling from the sky, with hopes that it would clear for our training runs and races. Incredibly, when we woke up on Wednesday morning, the skies were bluer than my eyes and completely cloudless. So our first training run was a bit soft and slow, but fun nonetheless. After training I couldn't help but head out to powder ski... two years ago when our Super G race got canceled (due to 1 meter of new snow over night!), we went exploring on our powder skis. I think about that day of free skiing a lot--the snow was so fun and the runs were so steep and challenging. So I had to go out again....
Alice, Julia, and Anna (Julia's physio) joined me for some shredding Wednesday afternoon. The snow was perfect--it was such a cold day, and there were so many areas left untracked, it was hard to call it a day. But with another training run on Thursday and two races on the following days, I knew I had to save a bit of energy. The powder skiing was so refreshing. It's pretty rare that we head out for free skiing off of the runs that we train and race on, but it feels good to get away from all of the intensity that we endure within the ski racing world. It is restoring and allows me to gain a balanced perspective, which I sometimes forget about. It's easy to get caught up in pressure and expectations, and by free skiing I somehow can relieve myself of those negative feelings.
The second training day was very different from the first. The lights were out and it was impossible to see the ground. The snow hardened up a bit, but was definitely bumpier and it felt a bit faster. Come race day and the weather seemed to be cooperating (despite previous reports), it was somewhat sunny and, although the start was moved down due to wind, the wind was relatively calm up top. I had bib 28, and I felt pretty good about the day. When I went I noticed that the light was pretty flat and it was a bit windy up top, though none of that mattered since I lost control and went out on the 5th gate anyhow.... It was a tough race, the course was pretty bumpy and conditions changed throughout the day, but that is part of our sport. I was pretty bummed to have gotten tossed out of the course, but when I got to the bottom I saw that Leanne was in 2nd. NUTS!
I am so psyched for Leanne to have gotten her first podium. I would have guessed that she was going to do it in Super G, but she had a great run and put it together to do it in Downhill. It is so crazy to see all of my teammates skiing so fast. It is inspiring and also comforting, because I know I can be right there with them. I know luck will come my way one of these days and my hard work will pay off. I am just going to enjoy the ride, and trust that I'll ski well as long as I am having fun.
After an excruciatingly long drive yesterday to Sölden (10 hours!), I am enjoying a day off: watching some ski racing (women's and men's world cup GS), doing some laundry, and catching up on emails, blog posts, etc. I am staying here in Sölden for a few days of training before heading back home for x-mas. I am happy to have a few days to train and figure out some equipment issues I have been having, but I am already missing the race scene and can't wait for St. Anton. Until then, I'll post some pictures, videos, etc. of my travels and adventures. I am in the perfect place....
ST. MORITZ, SWITZERLAND
Back on track! After too many days of travel, I finally made it to St. Moritz yesterday afternoon. We free skied (super g) on the race hill today and attempted to train slalom, but it was incredibly snowy and windy and not particularly productive. Nonetheless, I am actually excited for super combined tomorrow! I get to start 2nd in the super g portion tomorrow morning, so that should be good fun. The hill is a bit soft, so I'm psyched to be starting 2nd. Hoora! The super g run starts at 1030 tomorrow, SL run is at 130...so check it out on Eurosport, ORF, or Universal Television if you get the chance. Lake Louise turned out to be a great weekend--much better than last year. I made it to the finish in one piece, and managed to get 11th in the 1st dh, 18th in the 2nd, and 13th in the super g. I was happy to overcome a hill that gave me a whole new perspective on skiing (and life!) in a not-so-nice way. It felt incredible to ski through the finish, and felt even better to look up and see a decent result. I am so very happy to have that monkey off of my back, and to know that I have the speed I didn't want to think about last season. But, here we are in Switzerland, and it's time for some super combi, super g, and gs! I'm hoping for a bit of sunshine, a little luck, and to throw down a good run or two. We'll see what happens....
LAKE LOUISE, CANADA
So I've decided that my homepage is boring. I'm going to start updating more often, with snippets of my daily life (boring as they may be), to keep it a teeny bit more exciting. Today was day 5 on the Lake Louise downhill course up here in the Canadian Rockies... and, unlike last year, I managed to stay on my feet the whole way down! Yeehaw! The weather was totally insane today, with clouds of misty fog rolling in and out, sunshine every so often, and snow pooping from the sky like crazy at times. Unfortunately, I had to venture down the course during one of the poopy moments...but I had great fun doing it! I managed to sneak into 18th, and was very happy with the way I skied. BUT there was something to be more excited about...STACEY COOK GOT 2ND AGAIN! And Lindsey, once again, took the win! Those two girls really laid it out on the line today, taking out the rest of the field with fierce speed and skill. Julia placed 9th, Alice came in 11th (whoo!), I was 18th, and Leanne was 20th. Not a bad day for the American girls :) I'm really looking forward to tomorrow...it's back to Super G! Hopefully the weather is just a bit more cooperative and we can get off a fair race. If not, I'm going to make friends with mother nature and do some crazy sun dance naked on top of the mountain before I run. We'll see.... but I'm starting 30th and can't wait to make some Super G turns! Yehawww. until next time...
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