Monday, November 30, 2015

Thanksgiving Camp Round 1

No pole skiing gives a burning sensation that you previously thought you wouldn’t feel until a race, but here it is, skiing up and down in the meadow trying to mimic Sierra’s technique, with Mt. Elbert ominously staring at you.  Hours before, waking up in the middle of the night to my teammates sleeping heavily, dreaming dreams that would be discussed around the breakfast table.

This week was my first thanksgiving camp with the team. Leaving on Tuesday, I was feeling nervous yet excited. I knew that this week was not going to be easy, however, I knew I would be making memories that will truly never leave me. Here we all are, piling into Dick and Evelyn’s house. Tiny but cozy, we all grab mats and set them up to someone we know we can sleep next to for the following week. It kept occurring to me, it’s pretty amazing to have a sense of family and familiarity with the people surrounding you at this age, when you know that everyone is at a different stage in their life. It hit me how grateful I am when we were all (26 of us) sitting around the kitchen table in the small, slightly off center, dining room. Forks and knives clinking, laughs coming from every angle, compliments on the tastiness of the meal, and smiles that not only were noticeable but you could actually hear. “I’m thankful for my family back home for giving me opportunities like this”, “I’m thankful to have you all as a second family,” “I don’t need any grandchildren, because I have 20+ surrounding me right now, and you have no idea how happy you all make Dick and I”. It’s comments like that that put my happiness into perspective. It’s when Rachel, Christi, Sierra, and I glance at each other and realize that these tears coming from our eyes are not because of sadness, but rather happiness that was so apparent in the room. It’s looking across the table and seeing Bridget, Britta, Yara, Sierra, and Ava laughing because of the pumpkin tower before them; it’s seeing Kyle and Taylor laughing with smiles reaching to their ears; it’s seeing Will talking to Rachel about something that we all want to listen to, but at the same time leave them to it because the conversation seems so passionate; it’s seeing Elise and Sindre holding hands and feeling the love radiate. Yet, you don’t have to be a couple to feel the love that this team shares. It is constantly surrounding us, endlessly filling our empty spots. So, here I am, reminiscing over the memories from the talent show, thanksgiving dinner, the hour upon hour skis that brought me a level of happiness that before I thought was unattainable. Here I am thinking about how Will and I just played guitar together while the entirety of the team sang “hallelujah”, and how I can say with the utmost positivity, that in this moment I have never been happier.

Skiers Jumping!

Here's a quick video I made for our annual Thanksgiving talent show. The footage was taken this last spring with a small group of skiers during a crust-skis after nationals. Enjoy!


Saturday, November 28, 2015

Thanksgiving Camp

Bridget and Sam discuss geology of Iceland to my right.  In the corner Victoria delves into her latest project. No one knows what Will does on his cell phone...likely looking up the time trial results or obscure knowledge that I will never understand. Some like Yara, Kyle, Ben, Heather have gone to the coffee shop to focus on their homework. This morning was a time trial with 5k classic and 3k skate. We were required to transition from classic boots, skis, poles to skate gear. The first section of the course was flat and curving. The double poling felt natural, the breathing did not. Meghan stood on the first corner and her voice was the only reason I looked up to realize it was time to turn off onto the trail up the hill. Floundering in soft patches of snow and imperfections in the trail, I fought with my body to perform as I expected it to. When it did not feel like I expected, I had to remind myself to not judge too harshly. It takes time for the body to relearn all that it must do during races. For some, the end of the race meant puking up the morning's crepes. For others, it meant laying in the cold snow, spent like that World Cup racers we watched the night before. Thanksgiving Camp for the UW team is a very important part of the season. We become a team at this camp. Nicknames fully engaged, ski prowess measured and proved, the pecking order of the summer restructured for the coming race season. It is when we begin to rely on one another to make food, to clean up, to mold into specific roles on the team: freshman, novice, coach, glamorous older sister, elite racer who we all look up to. It is impossible to describe what all happens at this camp because a lot of the team building is in the little moments between the organized events. It happens in the cuddle pile at night watching World Cup sprints, screaming at the television for certain skiers to push a little harder or tuck a little deeper. It happens on the ski trails when you realize you have never skied with this person before; they step a little differently or take the corner more aggressively and you learn from them. It happens when we push back into child's pose and breathe out in unison, feeling the same ski muscles tense then relax with the movement. It is in hearing someone's snore, someone's laugh, and someone's extreme exertion each day. Motivation for the entire season is built at this camp, when we realize again the difficulty of ski racing and the happiness that it brings.