Sunday, January 18, 2015

Journey

Journey: 

nounplural journeys.

1.
a traveling from one place to another, usually taking a rather longtime; trip:
2.
a distance, course, or area traveled or suitable for traveling
3.
a period of travel:
4.
passage or progress from one stage to another
(http://dictionary.reference.com)

As ski racers, we journey, in all definitions of the word. This particular journey in my life has been a crazy one. Filled with many ups and down, highs and lows. I knew my journey wouldn't be a linear path, however the past few years have taught me how true the image below is, as well as that there are many ways to define success. 

Recently I was asked how I continue to believe in myself.... Well some days I take this goose's lead. 

Here are a few pictures from the last few months. 
Our camp to Pitztal and Solden was difficult and challenging, as usual. It's always an eye opener training/racing on these steep, rough pitches.


Somedays I look towards nature to cheer me up. At times, I think that animals can feel our emotions and know exactly what we need.



Next we travelled to Colorado for our Levi prep. I felt prepared, strong and fast, and I was ready to begin building after last year. However, this was not what was in store for me.
In Levi, Finland I straddled at the top of the last pitch.

The sun shone in Levi this year, helping me overcome this curve in my path. And I tried to learn from my mistakes and look forward.


(Photo: Pentaphoto)


Next we travelled back to Colorado to begin our prep for the Aspen World Cup and Nor Am races. My prep went well, and we trained hard in the days leading up to 6 races in a row. 

However, I straddled the the top in Aspen, and a little piece of my heart broke. This was not part of the plan. The plan was to build and learn and grow.

Sometimes when difficulties arise all you can do is go back to your roots. My favourite place in the world in my cottage. A road runs around the lake, which my grandpa cleared himself. Every day he takes his motorcycle or tractor out to the beaver dam to control the levels of the lake. Every few days he picks loose rocks out of the road, so that he doesn't run over them and fall. 

I needed to pick a few rocks out of my road.

I had to get back to my roots.

Our next race was in Are, Sweden. I raced to finish. I started 33rd and ended up 16th after first run. As soon as I crossed the finish line, relief washed over me. I finished a first run! I ended up 21st overall and it was a great day. It was my first finish in about 10 months. (Photo: Pentaphoto)


Again I went back to the basics. I spent Christmas with my team in Europe. I was able to see Lenny race in Switzerland and cheer from the sidelines. Then Lenny came to Italy to spend a few days with my team. It was refreshing and rejuvenating and put a fresh perspective on skiing and training. Despite our car getting broken into... it was a great Christmas.


Next stop, Kutai. My rabbit heart almost couldn't take Kutai. It is an interesting feeling standing at the bottom of the race, after you have gone, waiting to see if you were good enough. I didn't think that I would get a second run. When I realized that I made it into the second run, I felt lucky and I wanted to take advantage of what was given to me. I moved from around 28th to 16th in the second run. It was my first time standing in the leader's box in a long time :) (Photo: Pentaphoto)

After a few days of training we headed to icy Zagreb. One of my favourite races. 

After the first run I ended up about 16-18th, but I knew that I could make my skiing flow more. I had a plan. In the second run I put this plan into action. I moved up to 6th place after the second run. I had so much fun skiing that second run and felt in control and calm. And I was able to share the leader's box with Mitch :) (Photo: Pentaphoto)

After Zagreb I decided to try to get better at Lenny's sport... It's a work in progress. 



Which brings us to our most recent race, Flachau. Everything did not go as planned leading up to Flachau, however I knew that I needed to trust my skiing. I was excited because I love night races and my dad was going to be on the hill taking photos. I ended up 12th and it was amazing sharing this experience with my dad. (photo credit: Andy Mielzynski)


Thank you to my sponsors Polar Securities, the Dattels family, Rossignol, Uvex and Leki for joining me on my journey and making it possible. 

It's been one of heartbreak, happiness, tears, believing, failing to believe and so much more; but " the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." (Lao Tzu)

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.