Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Trentino

 The following link is for a Glimpse of Trentino
The travel, competition, and scenery

ItalyTrip

Having had the chance to rest on the travel to Italy I can take away from the experience a more refined perception of place and a greater knowledge of competition. In the same way that living in Wyoming after being an East Coastie inspired me through such a drastic change in landscape one of my favorite parts of traveling to this part of Italy was being immersed in the giant canyons that clawed their way into sheer rock faces of the Dolomites and the little towns that dotted their way up along the valleys. As in the Western States I knew that I could stay here simply to explore.
    Another part of the travel that I thought to be fascinating though simple was the similarity in the nature of interactions with people from so many places all over the world. The humorous stories of the Kazakhstan Hockey team from an Italian Attaché, two Finnish skiiers trying to explain their schooling, and the witty remarks from the Great Britain Women’s Hockey Team inquiring a Canadian Biathlete about exactly what his sport entailed. Human nature was so similar across cultures often incorporating extended bouts of humor. While the language barrier turned some exchanges into hand gestures the majority of athletes and Italians spoke English which made for an ease of communicating and gave me incentive to learn before I travel next time the language of the area that I would be traveling to.
     The knowledge I took back from the competition part of the experience was invaluable. Being part of competition represented by all parts of the world at such an elite level radiated a mesh of cultures that combined to create a global nordic culture. In this I found the familiar  mindset of a racer amidst methodical warm-ups and the intense focus on performance. I took back things I know I have to work on like tempo, power in double poling and ankle bend along with a better understanding of how to prepare my body for transitioning into racing. I also was reminded, however, of the transient nature of a race. How this experience was intertwining itself into the future goals of the other athletes I could only conjecture. I often wondered at how a race might feel if it determined support in life. Skiing as a job I could see as being quite stressful if performance was on the struggle bus.
    As I had known before this trip, the greatest part was experiencing it with a wonderful group of people. In a way it reminded me of the importance of new experiences in building long standing relations with others that often constitute an individual’s satisfaction with their current position in their life. In this case, I know that the novelty of this trip will always be maintained in the memories that I shared with this group in the solitude found among the valleys of Trentino and the thrill of racing that the wildly fun Lago di Tesero nordic venue brought.

Monday, January 13, 2014

WUG Reflections



We are relaxing at our house in Bozeman, MT. The boys bounce a lacrosse ball in the next room and the faint smell of wax is in the air as people finish grooming their skate skis for tomorrow's battle. The sun sets on the huge peaks above us that have survived another day of avalanche blasting. The wind howls outside, causing us to hide within this building that quickly became home.

Just two weeks ago we exchanged white elephant gifts in Florence, hugged coaches goodbye, and made the mad dash back to the U.S. The travel seems like a dream now though the feeling of the return is fresh in my mind. I find home coming uncomfortable. I suddenly remember the life that is my reality, the good and the bad, the triumphs and fears, the responsibilities. All of these things mix with the experience. This return was even stranger as I returned to my first alternate reality, college, and then my second, back home with my family. I found myself dreaming of the Italian trails and wishing for another chance on the course as I skied my home trails again. As required, I had memorized the Val di Fiemme trails, making it even easier to mentally remain in Italy. 

Today the women battled a 5k classic and the men battled a 10k classic in Bozeman. I say battle because it was. We may have left Italy, but we did not leave the challenging competition. It was an honor as usual to start a race with these D1 women. They are so strong and skilled in their art: each movement of the leg, a powerful pendulum and each strike of the arm drives the momentum infinitely forward. I am again reminded of my vulnerability and of the weaknesses in my ski technique. My mind fights to stay positive as we all line up behind the start line. Electronics wrapped around our ankles and bib adorned, we challenge ourselves once again against the elite.

Italy sticks with me now as an amazing chance at international competition. But more than that, the desire to keep improving and keep pushing into the next level is strong and it will be hard to smother. Elise’s amazing performances continue to give me hope that we are on the cusp of a breakthrough. Just waiting now for the alignment of my health, strength, and desire. Meanwhile, I will be visualizing the trails of the Val di Fiemme.