Tuesday, March 15, 2016

As Nationals 2016 has come to a close and we have all went out separate ways for spring break, all I can think about is how amazing this past week was. We traveled to New York with expectations for a solid week of racing, but we knew that we had to work really hard to get there. The snow was non-existent, but there was no fear as a 2.5k loop filled with man-made snow was in the works. We competed at the Olympic Jumping Complex in Lake Placid New York, home of the 1932 and 1980 winter Olympics. To say it was inspiring to be there would be an understatement. The whole atmosphere of the town was exciting. Everyone there loved winter sports, and so we knew our team was in the right place. Training days were long and all the athletes were antsy to see if their peak was working; the first race couldn’t come fast enough. Waking up on Tuesday, everyone was stoked. It was a 15k classic, 6 laps around a pretty tough, hilly, course. But, to be honest, this was a course designed for our team. It played to everyone’s individual strengths and you could tell when the results were posted. Both men and women won they day all thanks to the dedication from the race volunteers, the spirit and determination from the team, and the fast skis from coaches. (you rock Christi, Rachel, Sindre, Kyle, Sierra, and Ava).
            Staying in a house downtown was perfect. The coffee shop was frequented, the streets were walked, and happiness was so apparent in that tiny little town. Fireworks lit up the sky and Boss Hogg awarded us with his wit and some shiny plates (to add to our collection). Next race was the 7.5 skate. Again, looping around the same course. Lap courses are tough, but at the same time really great. You always know where you are, and you can see everyone when racing. So, we used that as a drive and skated around that course as fast and efficient as we could.  Again, the women and men had a stellar day as we both came away with that first place trophy.
            Rest day. Finally. Racing this much in a week  is hard on your body, but most of all Thursday wasn’t for sleeping, it was for the copious amounts of homework that needed be done…now. But, why do homework when Clarkson hosts a pie making party? And when Ava takes a group to the maple syrup factory? Homework can wait.
            Sprint day. I don’t think thanking the volunteers a million times would even be enough. They LITERALLY moved mountains up the hill so we would have a course to ski on. And they did a dang good job. Even if it was 56 degrees at 9am with the course turning to mashed potatoes, we did it. The women had an amazing day. (especially you, Britta!) And we came away with a win by one point. Repeat: one point. The men won again, of course, because they are amazing and fast, and overall amazing. ALL DAY.
            Last day! Relay. The women had to beat Clarkson University to become overall champions, and we knew it would be really hard, but one thing our team thrives at is how we believe in each other. Yes, there are moments of doubt and nervousness, but we truly do believe in eachother so much. Even though the day didn’t end as we wanted, coming away with a 3rd place, to finish 2nd overall, I couldn’t be more impressed by Elise, Yara, and Britta. They gave it their all, and technically… overall is just a word. We are champions in our heart, on the course and everywhere else- that will never go away. The men won, and handing Will that flag in the finishing stretch and seeing that huge smile on his face to bring his boys in for a win was one of my happiest moments. Next, fun relay. Here come the flannel flyers and the wax techs. I am going to replay that entire race in my head for the rest of my life. Smiling during races is practically never a thing that I do, but wow, when Mason is running up the hill with you, waving the flag, mullet flying in the wind and screaming Taylor Swift, you really can’t stop smiling. Traditions truly never go away, so the East and the West broke into the annual snowball fight and the happiness was radiating. Then, something happened that will definitely stick with me. Everyone came together, all the teams, for a group picture. Teams intermixed, fists pumping, and skis scattered, we created a memory that we won’t forget.

Yet, I think the most amazing part about the whole week was how all the teams cheered each other on. Clarkson cheering for Wyoming, St. Olaf screaming for Cornell and Whitman, Oregon running with the Mesa skiers, Airforce supporting Western and Michigan- it doesn’t matter who you ski for at USCSA Nationals, because at the end of the day we are all just friends who love to ski.

Friday, March 04, 2016

Skier of the Week RMISA Regionals: February 26 & 27

Sierra crushing the 15km Classic

As we prepare for Nationals we honor a skier who has been the heart of this team, both on the trails and off, for the past five years.

We first met young Sierra Jech as a transfer from University of New Hampshire. She wasn't stoked to be at UW, having transferred for financial reasons, but she was making the best of it and joined the team.

It quickly became clear to us just how special this young lady was. She was quickly not only one of the fittest and most dedicated athletes on the team but she almost immediately approached us with a new idea for fundraising. An idea that was both financially appealing AND environmental and social justice oriented - Trash 2 Treasures. T2T jumpstarted our campus and community involvement in environmental justice that has lead us to be one of the leading student groups for environmental justice on campus. This has enabled us to help plan and organize recycling at Football Games and we are part of the University Sustainability Committee.

It is doubtful any of this would have happened without Sierra's vision and leadership over the past few years.

A literal book could be written about Sierra's involvement on campus and her leadership of the team but here we will focus on her skiing.

Sierra loves to ski, she loves the outdoors and she loves the movement of her body. She has spent the past 5 years on this team working and training and skiing fast. She was one of the first women to truly believe she could compete on a NCAA Division I level and she proved it multiple times in her career, including this past weekend where she placed 25th in the 15km classic and 31st in the 5km skate. She would have been on the traveling team for four of these powerhouse NCAA Division I teams and would have been in the scorers for 2 of them.

After a season in which she started out injured and slowly pulled back her skiing Sierra nearly reache the qualifying mark for the NCAA Championships, being in the second alternate seat at the end of the season.

This week Sierra will take her leadership role to a new place as she attends USCSA Nationals as she was chosen the Female Nordic Student Representative last summer. She will represent the athlete voice at Nationals as well as trying her hand at assistant coaching with our crew.

We will miss her next year as she pursues her sexy mind at graduate school but she will never be out of our hearts.

For her a weekend preceeded by years of inspiration, leadership and just plain bad-assery we honor Sierra Jech as Skier of the Week!

You not only ROCK OUR WORLD but you have permanently ROCKED OUR WORLD!