The past few weeks have been incredible, so much fun, stressful, insane, and everything in between!
My 2022 started with a few days of concise, quality training at the Utah Olympic Park, since our Christmas camp that was meant to be in Granby, Colorado, was cancelled due to COVID concerns. What I was initially looking forward to as a nice, relaxing break spent with friends and family quickly turned into one of heightened lockdown as COVID concerns skyrocketed with the new Omicron variant.
Following training at home for a bit, most of my team and I headed to Mont Tremblant for the next few World Cups/Olympic Qualifiers of the season! (Two girls who had already qualified for the Olympics opted out of attending for COVID precautionary measures.) This also meant that we added some fresh faces to the World Cup crew, which is always a blast!! Particular honorable mentions go to the girls who joined us on Tour — Elizabeth Lemley and Avital Shimko — who both absolutely ripped it up and made finals on both days of competition! (Liz even finished her first World Cup ever in with a stunning fourth place finish, by merely one hundredth of a point!)
As for me, my sole focus for the week was doing as best as I could in executing my process — one day and one run at a time. With the Olympic Qualifying period rapidly closing, I used my 2018 Olympic Qualifying experience in Mont Tremblant as extra motivation to compete my best. (Back in 2018, Mont Tremblant was the last event prior to the Games: I choked and fell in my first and only run of the day, effectively destroying my chances at making the Olympics. Here is my blog post from that Olympic Qualifying process experience…it’s a pretty neat one to look back on nearly four years later.)
On the first day of competition this time around, I was super proud to execute three quality runs that brought me to super finals and to a sixth place. While it wasn’t quite enough to make the podium, I was very happy with the way I had consistently executed my technical and tactical goals for the day!
For the second day of competition, I yet again proved that I was incredibly focused in on my process and executed a stellar qualifications run to kick things off. Between the rounds, my coach (Bryon) and I discussed how to capitalize on the next couple of competition runs (since my air scores and time scores were a bit lacking from the previous day) and settled on competing my cork 10 — a trick that had yet to be landed in competition by any woman. Especially since I had competed this trick way back in 2019 (nearly 3 years ago!!) but hadn’t landed it, being the first girl to stomp that trick in moguls competition was definitely on my list of goals. Bryon and I made a concrete plan, and I jumped well enough in training to make the call to compete it in both finals and super finals!!
Completely enjoying the moment and investing my energy in executing that trick as best as I could was so much fun. It was such a welcome diversion from some of the craziness and pressure of the year to focus on a goal that was completely embedded in making my own little piece of history. Finishing my run and hearing the cheers from all of the athletes, coaches, and staff at the bottom of the hill was such an unforgettable moment.
The first cork 10 ever landed in women’s competition!
Going into Deer Valley and the final two Olympic Qualifiers, I was pumped to have such awesome momentum and quite a big goal checked off of my list. I knew that my spot to the Games would be absolutely solidified if I were the top American woman on both days of competition — and that’s exactly what I did. I’m incredibly proud to have laid down five clean, consistent competition runs in which I pushed myself on a number of different levels, but especially with regards to cleanly executing course tactics. I feel like I’m truly honing in what one of my mentors likes to call my “competitive savvy” — and I’m beyond excited that I officially have the opportunity to show it off at the Olympic Winter Games in just a few short weeks.
On the second day of competition in Deer Valley, immediately after finishing in 4th and taking a couple of steps away from the finish corral, the US Team Head Coach and one of my coaches, Matt Gnoza, told me the news that I had officially qualified for the Winter Olympic Games. I was immediately consumed by a wave of sheer gratitude (and tears!) — for both the people in my life and all the hard work paying off.
I am beyond thankful for the countless people who have helped me on my way to this point: my parents and brother, first and foremost, who have always been there for me under any and all circumstances; my team of coaches and mentors (Bryon, Bobby, Matt, Bill, Ellen, Riley, Dave) who believe in me and push me to realize that belief in myself every single day; and the awesome support crew who have been following along in any capacity — that means you!! It’s been incredible to have you all along for the ride and I can’t wait for the next few weeks!
My favorite run of the week on Champion (my favorite course on the World Cup Tour)!
Over the last several weeks, COVID has definitely proven itself as a tough obstacle. With how contagious Omicron has proven to be, I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t nervous about catching COVID while traveling, being in indoor spaces, or even outside in bigger crowds. Essentially, once we were within 40 days of the Olympic Games, getting a positive test promised to make things much more difficult with regards to our entry to China: a proof of recovery isn’t acceptable. Instead, in order to enter China, you have to be able to repeatedly test negative (and then test negative every single day while you’re there in order to compete). This has definitely put a damper on things: for instance, not being able to hug friends and family during the Deer Valley World Cup was a tough one. Furthermore, no spectators are allowed at the Games, so my family and friends will be watching from thousands of miles away as I compete. However, with all of that being said — COVID has already reduced some of the media and personal interaction distractions that seem to be typical at an Olympic Games. The next few weeks will definitely be a unique Olympic experience, that’s for sure!
A quick note on this year’s Olympic Team: below is my very favorite photo from the entire Deer Valley event, since it captured such a genuine moment between Tess and I. I had just found out that I had made the Games, and Tess wasn’t sure if she’d be able to qualify for the 4th Olympic spot. Both of us were in tears, sharing one another’s success and heartbreak. Despite being ranked #5 in the world, Tess wasn’t chosen to compete in Beijing – but I will say that I am incredibly proud to be teammates with such a badass gal who has been pushing her own boundaries day in and day out this season.❤️
Seven incredibly talented, gritty, fierce girls were fighting for four Olympic spots this year, which made the whole Olympic qualifying process so tough — yet, at the same time, a pretty incredible test of our grit, resilience, and ability to come out on the other side a supportive team. Some girls who have singles podiums from this season will have the opportunity to compete in Beijing, and some who have earned singles podiums (or results just off the podium) won’t have that same opportunity.
The fact that Olympic Qualifying did come down to the last moment for the final two spots is truly a testament to the depth and strength of the US Team — and the US Women’s Team in particular. It may not always be pretty, but we push one another to be our best every single day — and above all, try to be best teammates in an individual sport that functions in a team environment. At the end of the day, I am proud and honored to be representing the United States with the 7 other talented, hardworking, deserving moguls skiers and cannot wait to see what we all can do in China on the big stage!!
And finally, going into the Games, my biggest goals are to enjoy the present and to relentlessly pursue my process. The past is behind me now: all that’s left is to focus in on each subsequent moment leading up to my Olympic performance. This is an experience of a lifetime, to say the least, and I plan to take advantage of every single second of it!! I don’t have many more words to describe all of this, but do know that I’m so so thankful that I have the opportunity to perform my stuff to the best of my ability at the pinnacle of sport!
We’re not done yet, by any means…
Here’s to continuing to chase some big dreams!!❤️