Well, it feels like it’s been a very long time since I added something life-related to this so here’s a little update I guess. Most of it is about skiing because that is most of what I do, sorry. Since NEG in October, we had the end of cross country season which was overall pretty good but I ended it pretty early to start training for the nordic season which, looking back, was a good decision. I trained a lot on my own and a bit with some teammates or whoever was willing to go for a rollerski. Over Thanksgiving, I went to West Yellowstone with Minneapolis Ski Club and had a fun time training and then racing at the end of the week. The race went pretty well for me, especially considering it was at altitude and the first race of the season so I was very happy with that week as a whole. Then, in December we had two JNQs, one in Houghton, MI and one in Madison, WI. Both went quite well although at the Madison sprints I could not seem to stay on my feet so I did not have my best races necessarily but I did learn from them and was still happy with how the weekend went. Then, in late December, I spent most of my time training and getting ready for US Nationals as well as spending time with family over Christmas.
US Nationals this year was held in Craftsbury, Vermont during the first week of January. Going into the week, I had a few goals in mind, including qualifying for the U20 World Junior team and an international trip to Lahti, Finland. I was also looking to have a top 3 U20 performance and qualify for the senior heats in the classic sprint. The first race of the week was an individual start 10k classic. I ended up 7th US junior and was not thrilled with how I skied but went into the next race, classic sprints, with a bit more incentive to prove I could ski better. I qualified 24th overall in the classic sprint (making the senior heats and reaching one of the goals I had set). Four other juniors had also qualified for the senior heats and I ended up 3rd junior overall and reached my second goal that day as well which I was very happy with. I knew to qualify for World Juniors I needed to have a good race but wasn’t sure exactly what place would qualify me and it depended on who finished ahead and behind me that day as well so I went into it more with the mindset that I would just ski as well as I could and pay attention to my own race, rather than other people. I was 4th junior and ended up qualifying for the World Junior trip which was definitely a highlight of the season and I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to qualify and compete.
After a week at home after Nationals, we left for World Juniors on January 13th. It was the first international trip I had qualified for and going into it, I was both very stoked and very very nervous. It was a big goal for the season and even getting there was incredible but now I had to focus on the races themselves a bit more. We first had a full training week where we skied the race courses at the venue several times as well as had the opportunity to ski with our teammates more and also just get used to being in a different country with different coaches and a different team. During this week, we got to do some intervals together preparing for the races as well as do several easy skis at the resort where we were staying in Vierumaki.
The entire next week was racing, alternating days between U20 races and U23 races. I had the opportunity to race a classic sprint and finished 43rd overall, missing qualification but had a great experience for my first international race. The next U20 race, an individual start skate race, was two days later which I did not race but we live streamed the race and watched from our condos. Then two days after that, there was a mass start U20 classic race. I again had the opportunity to race and ended up having a very good day, finishing 24th (along with some incredible performances from teammates as well, Novie was 10th and Kendall 4th!!) and overall the US had a very strong day for both men and women.
The U23s had one final day of racing and then the last race was the U20 4 x 3.3k relay on Saturday. Going into the relay, all of us had goals but wanted to have the best race we could, knowing we were racing for a team this time, not just our own result. The relay was an incredible experience and racing for a team really does help to push you past where you think you might be able to alone. I am very thankful to have been on this relay and it was such a great learning experience and an amazing way to finish the week. We ended up 4th overall, just behind Sweden and were very happy with this result. The men also won their relay after coming off of 2nd place last year which, since we had already raced, was a very fun race to cheer for and be able to be on course. As a team, we had a very good week and finished it very strong which made it even better. I could not have asked for a better team to have competed with or a better group of coaches and wax techs supporting all of us throughout the entire two weeks. I am also incredibly thankful to the National Nordic Foundation for all of the funding they provide for trips like World Juniors and the support they provide for the sport in the United States.
State/Recovering from World Juniors
Coming home from World Juniors was a little bit hectic to say the least. I left Vierumaki, Finland around 4am on Sunday morning and got to Minneapolis at around 8pm and along with an 8 hour time change, I was exhausted. However, with the start of a new term in school, even after missing two weeks, it felt somewhat refreshed. I had several finals to make up still from first semester but was able to get it all done and had one of the best experiences skiing along with it. I spent a lot of the first week recovering and not skiing much but we had our conference race that Friday followed closely by the section meet the next Monday. I did not have my best races of the season and felt a bit burned out after so much intense racing in January. However, going into state, I was really looking forward to finishing my high school career strong and racing against people I loved to race with. I got to race a lot of the classic pursuit at the state meet with Luci and it ended up being one of my favorite races of the season because it reminded me how fun it is to race against people who are also teammates later in the season and how much I enjoy Minnesota high school ski racing. However, after that race, I still felt pretty flat and decided I needed to go back to some plain and simple base training before going to Junior Nationals in March. I raced a 15k mass start classic race two days after the state meet and then started a bigger training block the next week, hoping to bring back some consistency in my racing at JNs.
Going into Junior Nationals, very similarly to US Nationals, I had set some goals for myself. I was hoping to have a strong week to finish the season (although I planned to go to spring series as well) and wanted to podium as well as hoped to win a race. The first race of the week was a 5k individual start skate race. Going into it, I knew it wasn’t necessarily my strength but I was very motivated to make it a good race. I had one of the best races of the season and ended up 2nd U20 behind my teammate Luci Anderson which I was extremely happy with. Then we had a training day before the classic sprints on Wednesday, which I was looking forward to a lot. During the classic sprint qualifier I fell and did not have my best race to say the least but qualified anyway. Going into the heats, I wanted to have some better races and ended up leading the quarter final but fell again, this time pretty hard and ended up hitting my head. I didn’t think much of it right away and figured I had scraped my face quite a bit but got up and finished the race. I didn’t move on to semis (not surprising, considering the fall). I talked to coaches and went to the med tent, did a pretty brief concussion test and they concluded I probably didn’t have a concussion but should work on recovering considering how hard I hit.
That night, I didn’t sleep for longer than 20 or 30 minutes at a time and had a sort of constant nausea as well as woke up with a resting heart rate of 80, quite high for me as I am usually around 40 at this point in the season. I talked to our coaches again but decided to try a 15 minute ski (it was the date ski, so of course I had to). After 15 minutes I threw up and immediately knew that I had a concussion since that was a definite sign they told me to look for. I went to the med tent again for a more thorough concussion test and then the hospital for another, both of which concluded I had a concussion after falling during the quarter final. I wasn’t able to race either the classic mass start on Friday or the relay on Saturday which I was a bit upset about but made the most sense and was a good decision for recovery. I got to go and watch the classic race which was very fun and it was very good to support, even as much as I wished I could have raced. The Midwest had a very good day, fast skis, and great results which was also very fun to watch.
Coming home, I have spent the last few weeks working on getting back to going to school, slowly adding time and more classes, though I did end up having to drop one of my classes due to the work load and how much I had missed already. I have also been working on getting back to working out, which has been somewhat slow (and I am not always the most patient person when it comes to not being able to workout). However, I am able to bike and do core and lifting that do not impact my head or give me a headache which has helped a lot. I am really looking forward to being able to fully train again and get back to rollerskiing, running, and full lifting this summer.
Finally, and something I might be most excited about, I have decided I will be attending Dartmouth College this fall. I am super excited to be continuing athletics and academics there and I am super thankful to have the opportunity to ski for a great team while attending an incredible school.
And that’s most of what has happened since October, I apologize for the length.