2 – Relearning
I arrived to Europe on the 31st. This was the third flight over the body of water known as the “Atlantic Ocean” I had taken in as many weeks. We drove to St. Johann, Austria. Stayed in one set of apartments that night, then stayed in another set of apartments the next. Two nights later we moved an hour away to Henereit, Austria. Two days later we moved to Oberjoch, Germany. (Technically we are currently moving to Oberjoch, so I’m going to switch to future tense now.. get ready!!) After two days in Germany we Will move to Adelboden, Switzerland for two days (one of which i will be racing a World Cup GS!!) after which we will move back to St. Johann, where we started the whole kitten kabutel.
“Why”, you ask, “would you spend a whole paragraph TALKING ABOUT DRIVING FROM PLACE TO PLACE!?!”. Excellent question. And here is the answer. Although it may be a little redundant to say it now as it was quite self evident… we have been traveling a lot. Not that moving from one tiny European hotel to another is a bad thing. In fact, all the traveling we get to do is one of the perks of being an unpaid professional athlete. But its a little bit tiring, and there are only so many hobbit sized, spiral stair cases a person can stand to endure dragging their very un-hobbit sized luggage up and down.
Other then that, the trip has been a moderate success. My first trip to Europe this Season in the beginning of December was not of the same nature. After a successful month of being back on snow in Colorado, making the switch to an injected European surface proved to be one of the biggest challenges I have ever faced. It was like I had recieved some kind of time warp mind wipe on the plane ride over. Like some kind of freak solar flare had occurred and interacted with my brain waves in such a way that I could not for the life of me make a turn. Without going into to much detail, it took me the length of the two week trip to figure out that there were some minor equipment changes that needed to be made in order for me to adjust to the European snow. After these were made I could slowly start learning how to ski again.
My mistake in the beginning was that I thought I had “It”. I have had “It” a number of times throughout my career. “It”, in this case, is the proverbial point where “I” (and I’m assuming other ski racers) feel or see something in their skiing and then say to themselves, “Ok, now that I know or feel or can do that, I will finally be able to achieve the next step”.
I now realize that the problem with “It” is, it doesn’t exist! “It” was a story. “It” was a fantasy my brain invented to keep the negative thoughts and feelings, that I imagine every athlete experiences, out of my head. Negative thoughts like “how will i do?” or “I’m not good enough.” at their root stemmed from the fear of change. Every time I told myself I had “It” I was telling myself that I didn’t have to worry about what ever I had been focusing on, ever again.
What I should have been telling myself was that you never have anything. That no matter how similar, each turn is a new turn. Each hotel room in some foreign land, each 8 hour car ride with comatose ski racers and grumpy coaches, each experience is different. That “It” is an idea to forever chase, and to enjoy never owning. Change is always happening. In life, and especially in ski racing, we are always learning and re-learning.
1 – Christmas
I’m sitting in a Volkswagon Van traveling from Henereit, Austria, to Oberjoch, Germany. The front seat is comprised of a three-person bench seat. If you are that unlucky third person sitting in the middle seat and straddling the stick shift. You are probably squished in between two people. The driver. Who is either a ski coach or some other possibly non-english speaking figure of authority. And a ski racer. Who probably smells like the old sweatpants with questionable stains he is wearing and who is drooling on himself in the midst of a minor coma. A coma with such a severe onset that the victim didn’t even have time to remove the piece of food he had been eating from his mouth before he lost consciousness. (the previous statements were written to describe a scenario purely for the entertainment of my audience and has no basis in reality what so ever)
Needless to say, if you are in between either of these two people, you are not having a good day.
On this particular day, I am happy to report that this unlucky third person has a seat in the second row all to himself. So I have all the space in the world to spin my tales of the road: tales of heroism, of dragons and damsels, of solitude and of sorrow. Ok, maybe things aren’t quite as medieval as I just made them sound. In the ski racing world, there is plenty of heroism. There is also possibly an equal and opposite amount of sorrow. But the only dragons are found in the heart of the mind, and the only damsels… well, I don’t exactly know where they are because we never see any. (Also in an effort to promote transparency of information between the public and big corporations/governments… I need to admit that this post was started in the van to Oberjoch, but wasn’t finished until two weeks later when I remembered I had actually written anything to start.)
One of the drawbacks to being a moderately successful unpaid professional athlete on the U.S. Ski Team is that you have to spend Christmas and New Years in Europe. Fortunately I was allowed to return home for the holidays. Usually a trip home for me means 7 days strait of skiing powder at Snowbird with family and friends. But this year, thanks to a politically disputed, scientifically proven, global event that involves the human activity induced heating of the atmosphere which shall remain un-named in this blog so that I can remain politically neutral, there wasn’t any powder to ski!! (so thanks for nothing Rush Limbaugh)
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/03/cold-weather-climate-change_n_4537598.html (a piece for all of you to read if you think Donald Trump should be allowed to say anything about climate change)
Without powder skiing to fill my schedule the rest of my break was much more laid back then usual. Christmas day went as follows: 7:00 a.m. – wake up and know that it is too early to open presents. 7:35 – now that I’ve been laying here for 35 minutes I am really awake and can’t stand the thought of waiting any longer to go up stairs. 7:36 – go upstairs, pour a cup of coffee with Bailey’s and chat with mom. The glow of Christmas day is burning holes in my face as I pretend not to notice the shimmering tree 15 feet away. I am of course sizing up every wrapped package of socks, long sleeve collared shirts that I will never wear, and gift cards from our Cousins that lay under the tree that is somehow being kept alive on a strict diet of “Sprite”. 8:00 – On the nose, slowly make my way over to the tree but sit there pretending that I don’t know EXACTLY which pile of packages are for me. This delicate dance of wills is really a competition between my sister and I to see who can open all our presents first while simultaneously acting like we would rather wait to see what everyone else received.
One of the only other traditions in my family is to go skiing on Christmas day. During the holidays Christmas day is the only day that isn’t insanely crowded at the ski resorts. So we shredded presents and then headed up to the “Bird” to ski around on some of the best “man made snow on earth”. (Get it? It’s funny because usually Utah’s slogan is “best snow on earth” but because there is no snow…… catch my drift? ha.. ha.. ha.. get it? that one’s funny to cause there aren’t any drifts cause there IS NO SNOW… shhh ok i’m done.)