The past two months have been pretty crazy, so it’s taken me some time to figure out how to get all my thoughts down on paper… So, finally, here we go! I hope you all have been enjoying watching the Olympics unfold this February. There are some truly remarkable stories that have bubbled to the surface thus far and surely many more to come in future events. I’ve particularly enjoyed watching Chloe Kim and Red Gerard— kids my age from Team USA — thrive at their first Games and win Gold!!
As many of you are aware, I didn’t make the Olympic Games. I was the first alternate for Team USA in women’s moguls — the first athlete to miss out on qualifying. I never thought I’d have to say that I missed out on the Olympics, but it is now a part of my career, my story, and my character. I have already begun and will continue to learn from this experience and use it to both fuel my fire and determine my future moving forwards!! I’ve learned an incredibly large amount from this experience already, and I know that new lessons will continue to appear in the future. However, the pain I’ve felt with missing out on one of my biggest career and 2017-18 season goals is simply unbearable. This has definitely been the toughest emotional challenge I’ve been tasked with surpassing, and I have no doubt in my mind that this hardship will enable me to accomplish what I desire moving forward. In the future, I am promising myself that I will accept nothing less than my best every time I compete. I now have steadfast sights set on Gold at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games; this goal is transfigured from “want” to a “must” in my mind, and will do whatever it takes to achieve it!!
After I officially received the news I hadn’t qualified for the Games, it was a tough blow to muster. Writing this update while sitting at home, during the Olympics, was something I had never imagined. My plan was to qualify for the Games and to compete my best at that event. I was absolutely devastated upon failing to make the Olympics; I knew immediately after my final qualification run in Mont Tremblant that this dream of going to the 2018 Olympic Games wouldn’t come to fruition. Then to sit in a meeting where my coaches broke the official news to the new Olympians on the team — this was utterly awful, to say the least.
The next morning, upon realizing the situation I had put myself in, it felt as though my life exploded. It’s an understatement to say that the magnitude of this opportunity I missed was gigantic. I was headed home to a month of torture, where I had to sit through a seemingly endless buildup to the Games, then the event itself, without being able to do anything about it. I additionally want to acknowledge that I have no hard feelings about the team selection. It was absolutely selected correctly and accurately — the best depiction of the athletes who had achieved the best results thus far this season. The reason as to why I’m disappointed is because of my personal performance. In many of the events, I didn’t compete the way I wished to, made several mistakes, and only reached the level I feel I am entirely capable of once (6th place) — yet, I know I have the potential to achieve so much more. Despite my best result, though, I still felt as though I had more to give, and that was the toughest thing to walk away from the Olympic Qualification process and the Olympic Games (truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity) knowing deep down.
Final 4 Olympic Qualifier World Cups
Calgary (January 5-6) was a super fun event on a tricky course that proved an exciting challenge. On the first day of competition (ladies qualifications and finals were on different days), I squeaked into finals by only 0.01 of a point with a lackluster run. Upset with my performance in qualifications, the next day in finals, I skied one of my very best competition runs this season and finished 11th.
Deer Valley (January 10 – 11), my favorite event of the year and my family turned out to watch me ski, but I unfortunately didn’t ski my best either day and failed to make finals.
Mont Tremblant (January 20), the last qualifying event left before the Olympics, I felt confident and trusted in my run and myself to compete at my best regardless of my previous results. However, I fell on my backflip on bottom air, my favorite part and specialty in my run, to finish in last place. This event was the most devastating of all, as I was skiing my best during the beginning of that run and on that day of competition; it was my last opportunity to accomplish my childhood dream; and the fall itself was undeniably aggravating. As I stood up and brushed off the snow from my jacket, I felt like I was looking at the event from above — I was astonished at what I had just done. Disbelief and anger immediately began coursing through my body, tearing apart a hole in my stomach. The previous words (and paragraphs), though, don’t entirely do my feelings justice — this entire experience has been more intense than anything else I’ve gone through.
Through this all, though, I have to trust in the fact that everything happens for a reason, and that this will only help me to acknowledge how much I enjoy my sport, make me stronger, and provide me with fresh motivation in order to navigate these next 4 years with calculated grace.
Below are the biggest things I’ve learned from this entire Olympic Qualification Process:
- Getting frustrated over my qualifications performance and therefore going for it in finals is not enough. I need to be in it to win it from the beginning.
- Mindset is everything. One negative thought can derail my entire day, so it is incredibly important for me to be extremely conscious of my thoughts going into the event, and to keep it lighthearted and fun!
- I compete at my best when I am thoroughly enjoying myself!
- Staying centered and focused with my deepest motivation at the forefront of my mind keeps me on my toes and prompted to perform at my best.
- GO FOR IT! By putting my all out there, I am giving myself the greatest statistical chance to compete at my best and obtain superb results.
- Trust myself throughout the entire process. Worrying over what might happen, why it might occur this way, etc. is useless and takes away from focus on my performance.
So, What’s Next?
I still have 7 events left to finish out my season (including the remainder of the World Cup Tour and US Nationals) and I am going to finish strong!! I have spent the past month refocusing, resetting, and strategizing on how to best attack the final events of the season. After taking a week off, I got back into training, reconnected with family and friends, watched my brother ski in some of his own competitions, completed some schoolwork, cheered on Team USA at the Olympics, and rediscovered my passion and love for not just mogul skiing, but skiing in general!
Moving forward, this inherent love for my sport is at the forefront of my competitive routine — a must of my competition morning. During my most recent training, I’ve taken a step back, focused entirely on top to bottoms and comp simulation runs (honing in on my mentality while I’m at it), connected with a sports psychologist and streamlined my mental process, and put myself in some competition situations by forerunning regional events. I am excited to truly put everything I’ve learned to use in my remaining competitions this season!
My next event will be this week in Calgary, Canada — a NorAm event that I am using as an opportunity to get back into the gate before returning to the World Cup Circuit. From there, the World Cup season will resume at the beginning of March in Tazawako, Japan, then turn over to Airolo, Switzerland, and finally, Megeve, France, for World Cup Finals!!! The last events of my season will be in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire, for US Nationals!
Go Team USA!
With respect to my teammates’ moguls competition at the Games about a week and a half ago, I want to say that even though Team USA didn’t achieve the results they were hoping for, I am proud of them! They all competed ruthlessly to get to the prestigious event itself, and skied their hearts out in the big event. Each competitor deserved to be there, and for that, they all deserve a big congratulations!!
And, finally, I want to conclude by saying thank you. Each and every one of you on this update list have been there for me when times have been both tough and successful. To my parents, who helped me pick up the pieces after failing to qualify for the Games, I am incredibly grateful. The numerous sacrifices my entire family has made to get me to the point where I have the opportunity to make my dream a reality is unreal. Their devotion to my ambitions are both unprecedented and thoughtful. None of this would be possible without my family. To my friends who have reached out to me in one form or another, thank you for being there for me to count on! To the OHS community, thanks for giving me academics to turn to, and for keeping me inspired on a daily basis! And to everyone reading this update, thank you for being a vital part in my journey in one way or another. You have all been fantastic supporters and I am so thankful to have you all along for the ride!! I promise that this is only the start of an incredible journey to Olympic glory, progression of mogul skiing, and my discovery of myself as a human being. (:
ALL the best,