Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Let's Try Again

Let's try again... A few short words that could describe anything... a driver's test you failed, getting sprayed while changing a baby's diaper, walking into a sliding glass door, starting over a new 4 year Olympic cycle or even... blogging.
I read in an article once that you aren't supposed to apologize for not blogging for a while... but does that apply for one week, 3 months, or... 7 months. I am sorry, but I also feel the need to explain...


I came into this season more prepared than I have ever felt. I dialed in many weaknesses that had presented themselves during previous seasons. I was training better than ever and my coaches felt that I was on track. 




However, sometimes life decides that it will test you, and we don’t get to choose when this happens. It was a season of struggle, disappointment and picking myself back up to try again. 



I’ve often said of my past seasons that they were seasons of learning, and seasons of growing, and that is true, however, this season was truly a year that made me take a step back, ultimately to realize that I have to make big changes to take multiple steps forward. 

Sometimes it takes challenges, set backs and struggles to make you realize the drive that is inside of you, how much you can handle, how well you can ski under difficult circumstances and the changes that need to be made in order to soar in the future. These challenges ranged from equipment changes to allergic reactions the morning of a race. 

Through all of this I didn't want to write. I was trying to get better, trying to "snap out of it" and change things around, and this is where I put my focus.

I will not dwell on these things on my blog. Instead I want to take you to the period of time that everyone is wondering about and that I have been dreaming about my whole life, the Olympic Games. 


First of all, to answer the most important questions that are floating around in everyone's minds... no I did not see two toilets in one stall, yellow drinking water or open manholes dropping 15ft. Actually, Sochi is a beautiful place, the volunteers were incredible friendly, other venues were quite easy to get to and our accommodations were very nice. 


I arrived in Sochi about midway through the games and my first experience was eating kabobs at a giro stand. However, my first Olympic experience was watching my friend Denny Morrison win a silver medal in speed skating after his teammate, Gilmore Junio, gave up his spot for Denny.


This is what truly began my Olympic experience. Remember when I wrote a blog post about "inspire and be inspired"? Well I was truly inspired. 

Leading up to the games I had been struggling with some back pain, making some equipment changes and dealing with a disappointing first half of my season. 
However, I knew a few things:
1) None of these things mattered and I could still be a contender
2) No matter what was thrown at me I was ready to deal with it
3) Inspire... No matter what happened I was going to hold nothing back. I was not going to let anything stop me from skiing like myself and behaving in a way that was true to myself. 


I decided that I would start the GS race after quite a few months of focusing on slalom. As many of you saw the weather was difficult on this day. We experienced tough conditions and mostly... a lot of snow and rain. 

However, I was simply happy to be skiing GS again. I was happy to stand in the start and get the jitters out, and most of all I was so pleased that I felt some amazing feelings again in GS. I ended up 21st in the race, which is my second best result in GS to date. 



I came through the finish line and saw one of the only Canadian flags in the crowd... It was my dad, drenched to the bone, wearing a "Go Erin" t-shirt over his ski jacket, waving a flag with a huge smile on his face. And this made me think... To all those parents out there paying a great deal of money so that their kids can race and then spending more money to stand freezing on the side of the hill to watch their kids... Yes, it is worth it. 

We appreciate every penny you've ever spent and every toenail you've ever lost. And to those athletes that wonder if it is all worth it... Just look into your parents face after a race whether you have done well or not. 

My Olympic result in slalom was disappointing, however it was not devastating. I came into the slalom ready to race, against all odds. I stood in the start feeling a smile starting to form on my face because I knew that finally I was ready to race. 

I pushed out of the start and I can still imagine the rhythm of the course and my feet finding the tempo of the rut. About 2/3 of the way down the course I was in around 4th or 5th, but then I was off by a centimeter, a millimeter even, and I straddled. 



I swallowed a skifull of the salted snow, coughed a few times and then thought, “You have to go down and wave at your fans, your family and Canada.”

My goal for the Olympics was not to simply finish, it was to be a metal contender, and that is why I am not devastated. Of course I am disappointed, however I gave everything I could.  It didn’t work out for me this time, but I didn’t let anything, including past experiences, hold me back. 







 I've had some time to digest my season, my struggles, my successes and I've discovered some changes that I want to make. We have just completed our physical testing and I feel positive that with the team in place behind me I can make the changes that I want to make. I am continuing to pursue my dream and my goals, but first I wanted to thank all of you for your support, your belief and your kind words.... and now... let's get back up and try again. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Solden and Fundraising

I am back to my usual blog format for the time being. 
This year, in between camps, I have been able to head home to Ontario and visit with family and friends. 
The day before I left for Solden I had the honour of being awarded Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal! 
"Created in 2012 to mark the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the Throne as Queen of Canada, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal was a tangible way for Canada to honour Her Majesty for her service to this country. At the same time, this commemorative medal served to honour significant contributions and achievements by Canadians. During the year of celebrations, 60 000 deserving Canadians were recognized." - http://www.gg.ca

Next I headed to Piztal, Austria to begin my prep for Solden. I have made some significant changes to my GS this summer, and I went to Solden for a few reasons, to get a race under my belt before Levi, to get a few extra days of GS training under my belt and because this year I felt that I had a chance. 

We had a fun photoshoot with MP's new line for "I GOT SWAGG". 

MP and I always listen to Hugues, but Jenny isn't impressed by what is being said...

Thanks Audi for our sponsorship! 

Mitch the lizard.... 

Who reminds me of... the lizard in "How Animals Eat Their Food".


I love my teammates and physio! And the new line of... http://www.teamigotswagg.com

I was excited when we moved to Solden because the forest is always so beautiful. I brought my big camera on this short trip for the sole purpose of taking pictures of the trees. I slung my camera over my shoulder, bush wacked up the trail and got my camera ready. Only to realize that my battery was dead. I resorted back to my good old iPhone,

Silence

I woke up the next morning ready to race. 

I didn't ski the way that I wanted to in the race. Many of the changes that I made in GS are not yet good habits and fell apart under the difficulty of Solden and the pressure of the race. The outcome of the race was a bit of a nightmare, and I was disappointed. However, I got many of the things accomplished that I went to Solden for. I felt calm in the start, I trained in many difficult situations and my warm up went according to plan.

However, I still felt like this after the race.

I headed home to get myself ready for my preparation for Levi. This break at home was extremely busy, filled with fundraisers, inspirational days and working out.
The first thing on the schedule was a couple of interviews and then heading to a school in Toronto for a kids' inspirational lunch. It was amazing to see the kids open up to us, get comfortable and be inspired. I am so happy that Ontario decided to add this to their gala day.
After the kids lunch we headed to the Miele centre for our Ontario gala. It was amazing to meet new families from Ontario and see the support from our province.

Next on the schedule was the HBC launch for the Olympic clothing. It was exciting to see our Olympic gear for this coming season! I am excited to put on these clothes and become part of team Canada!

Our amazing hair stylists.

Jan and Brad helped us launch the clothing in style!


After the launch and a few interviews, I headed to the Gold Medal Plates dinner. This is a dinner where chefs from some of the best restaurants in Toronto come to have a cook off. Tom Cochran and Jim Cuddy performed during the event (and let us come up on stage and sing with them!). The proceeds of this events go to our Canadian Olympians and the chef that wins moves onto the culinary finals in Kelowna, BC.
The week at home was incredibly busy, but it was simply incredible too. I was able to meet many other Olympians, and I am excited to watch them all compete in Sochi. These events are busy, colourful and they inspire us to...