Happy Holidays!! I hope that this holiday season, you are surrounded by loved ones in a place where winter isn’t treating you too harshly (:
It is with a lots of excitement that I can say that, over the past month, competition season has officially begun!! Immediately after Thanksgiving Day, I boarded a plane to Ruka, Finland, for some final training before the competition season started. Like last year, the wintery wonderland didn’t disappoint. The mogul course was a fun one to train and compete on, as the snow conditions were soft and made for some entertaining skiing! The training itself went decently well; I felt as though I had efficiently made some final touch-ups before the event rolled around.
Apart from training, I got the opportunity to see the sun a few times (Finland is so far north that near-darkness relentlessly consumes much of the day during the winter), explored the village, experienced the country’s 100th birthday, and met a couple reindeer! Also, on one of our 3 days off before official training began, my teammates and I, along with some of the Australian, Norwegian, and Swedish athletes, road tripped further north (closer to Santa!) to see the Northern Lights. The sky was particularly clear, and according to many predictions, the lights would make a strong appearance. Despite our efforts to get away from the resort itself, the best scene we witnessed was upon our arrival back to our condos, when intense streaks of purple and green lit up the night sky! It was an amazing experience that I can now (gratefully) check off my bucket list!
First Competition of the Year!
After our three days off for a course rebuild, official training began. I was seeded as #11 going into this first event of the year, reflecting the prior year’s World Cup Rankings. On competition day, I was uncharacteristically nervous — I let some of the bigger implications at stake get the best of me. As I had discussed with one of my competitors before the race even began, this year, in comparison to last, felt different. Between the athletes, there was a bit of tension in the air as we awaited the suspenseful first day of competition, where we would learn, after nearly 8 months of preparation, how everyone stacked up during this Olympic year. In short, when competition actually came around, I didn’t quite perform up to my potential. I qualified into finals in 15th place, and finished 14th. Although I did squeak into finals, I knew I had much more to give in terms of my performance, and eagerly looked forward to the next series of events in Thaiwoo, China.
Travel & Finishing Up School
The night of the event in Ruka, my teammates and I boarded the bus at 1 a.m. to the airport in Oulu, Finland, to travel to Thaiwoo, China for the next event. My teammates had planned on heading home for 24 hours, then continuing on a long flight to China; I, on the other hand, decided to travel to China straightaway in order to get to the village where I’d be staying and rest before the next long haul. I departed from my team in Helsinki, where I next boarded a flight to Beijing (and thankfully missed the storms that altered my competitors’ travel plans for more than 48 hours!), and met my mom! The two of us took a bus to Thaiwoo, where on the way, we saw the Great Wall of China!!
After the grueling travel, my mom and I then spent my 3 rest days waiting for the course to open to World Cup teams by exploring Thaiwoo — and Chinese culture — a bit, and finishing up my schoolwork for the semester. At this point, I’m now finished with 7/8 semesters of high school, and am looking forward to concluding my final semester on a strong note!
Round 2 of Competitions & My First Superfinal!
After spending a week in Thaiwoo, it was time for the next two events, which would take place on two consecutive days. I was excited for the first event — my nerves were gone and I was ready to go. However, after a mediocre qualifications run where I finished in 17th (just outside of finals and a second opportunity to better both my ranking and the run itself), I was frustrated, to say the least. I felt as though I had let myself down. I hadn’t trusted in the countless hours and days of training I had put into improving myself. As a result, the aftermath of this first event in Thaiwoo was tough to face. I knew I could compete better than I did, and I knew I had the potential to ski even better than I had been in training.
From there, I promised to myself that I wouldn’t let what happened that day occur ever again. No matter what, I wanted to leave China with a run I was proud of, and know that I had given it my all, no matter what. (Nothing to lose, everything to gain!) This ignited a fire within me: I woke up the following day with an aggressive mindset and confidently skied my way through training, qualifications (where I ended 6th), Final #1 (another 6th), and finally, my first superfinal against many of my mogul-skiing idols! Even during my superfinal run, the pressure would not faze me. All day, all I wanted to do was to ski my absolute best run in that moment. I ended the day finishing 6th and I was (and still am) proud of my performance, as well as my ability to turn my despair into a product I was proud of. However, I know this is just a starting point for me. I absolutely cannot wait to capitalize upon this mindset and my potential in upcoming events in 2018!!
Home for the Holidays + What is Next…
After China, I traveled home to Park City with my mom for a relaxing few days at home before getting on the road again. I was able to spend time with my parents and brother — nordic skiing, watching football, and living out Christmas traditions — over a snowy couple of days! I’m incredibly thankful to have spent this time with my family as 2017 comes to a close. During the last few days of the year, I’ll be in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, making some final improvements on my competition run!
Immediately after the new year, I will be competing in the 4 remaining Olympic qualification events. These will take place in Calgary, Canada, Deer Valley, USA, and Mont Tremblant, Canada. During these Olympic qualifiers, I’m going to continue to solely focus on my skiing and performance in competition — I know that the results will come when I ski at my best.
Thank you all for your continued support! I can’t wait for what’s to come!!
All the best,