After a very, very long hiatus, welcome back!!
It’s odd to think that my last blog post is about the Olympics…just about 9 months ago. Reflecting back upon the better part of a year is a bit of an arduous task, since it feels like things have changed momentously since the Games. While guided by the same principles of focusing on my process and using persistence to get after my best, how that plays out logistically/surface-level looks a bit different than what I’ve done in the past (and honestly, what I’ve considered possible in the past, but more on that later).
As I write this blog, I’m sitting on Columbia campus, all packed for Europe, and am departing for the last preparation camp of the season later this evening. And just like that, a new season is right around the corner!
Here’s how things have shaken out since then!:
The season wrapped up with a little less than a month training at home (during which I watched the rest of my Team USA teammates crush it in Beijing!), followed by a few World Cups in Italy and France. This final part of the season wasn’t without its respective ups and downs: I was able to compete cork 10 two more times (one attempt was successful, one wasn’t); my parents traveled to Europe to watch these events and saw me secure my highest World Cup standing finish yet (a bittersweet 4th!); our team won the Dual Moguls Nations Cup; and finally, my season — for the second time in a row — was ended prematurely prior to Nationals with a bout of COVID that most of my team contracted upon returning to the States. (That last part was a bit ironic: after tons of COVID-induced anxiety throughout the season, we all caught the virus immediately following the end of the Games.)
After the season concluded, I devoted much of my spring to resting and playing in the mountains. I took a month off of strength and conditioning, which I haven’t done…probably since I began S&C training, honestly. The break from all things skiing was much-needed in lots of ways. I had given so much of my life to skiing in the past years — even despite finding more life-balance during my ACL recovery and beyond — and didn’t necessarily know that I was overdue for a break.
That month was also devoted to a bit of celebrating: I got to be a part of the Team USA White House visit in May, which honored all Summer and Winter Olympians from the 2020 and 2022 Olympics, respectively. It was incredible to meet so many athletes in all Olympic sports and hear more about their stories and how they got to where they are today.
I also found that, throughout that month, in some ways I was burnt out from skiing. At the beginning of my return to training, it was difficult for me to return to the sometimes-mundane nature of the grind, especially when I often complete many pieces of it on my own (strength and conditioning, for instance). With the right motivation, I’ve found in the past that doing my own thing can be a game-changer for me and progressing myself athletically, but without the right motivation, I don’t necessarily think that route is the most productive.
This lack of motivation was a bit confusing for me, since I’ve always been a pretty naturally motivated athlete and, as of especially recently, competitor. As I’ve found time and time again, though, I’m pretty lucky to have family, mentors, and coaches who have guided me through this process step by step. I learned that this fluctuation is only a natural part of sport and the comedown associated with working hard at my craft every day. As I progress into the deeper stages of my career, I find myself mostly just wanting to compete (which is, in a roundabout way, a great training motivator).
That doesn’t mean that I don’t want to continue skiing, though. Understanding this distinction was quite critical in maintaining my overall motivation and as one of my coaches puts it, understanding my “why” in my motivation to continue to ski, compete, and push myself to the highest bounds of my potential. A fairly significant part of me had always thought that after the 2022 Olympics, I would take a full year off of skiing and go to school at Columbia full-time. After the season had finished, I quickly realized that this wouldn’t be my next endeavor — at least, not done in that particular manner. I still think I have plenty of room left to improve as an athlete, as well as much more I want to do to push the limits of women’s mogul skiing. I want more. For me, those desires were pretty innate and didn’t take much effort to access when I called upon them.
I also found a distinction in how my friends and fellow athletes who were going through the retirement process would talk about skiing. It became clear to me that I’m not done just yet.
More than ever, I’m thankful for the track that I’m on and the opportunity that I have to continue mogul skiing – and to do it the OG way.
This brings me to my next big change, though: over the summer and fall semesters (currently!) I have attended Columbia full-time while balancing training. I am making pretty steady strides at obtaining my degree and figuring out what I’d like to do after my run at this whole skiing thing is done. It’s also been quite fun to get in a “normal college experience” while I’ve been at it — maintaining some emotional balance and exposing myself to different environments!
Balancing training with college hasn’t been incredibly easy so far — and my brain has, on several occasions, questioned if this is the right thing for me to do. However, two things have remained steadfastly on my mind when that doubt comes up: first, that I am beyond thankful for every experience I’ve had thus far; and second, that I am no stranger to doing things differently, and while difficult, it’s often very fulfilling for me to push my limits and find out how I can extract the best parts of me.
For now, this is how I’ve done it! Each semester in the city have been jam-packed with lots of studying, tons of strength training and visualizing, and spending time with friends — both from past times in my life (NYC is such a fun hub in this way 🙂 ) and new friends from school!
When I’m away for competitions and training, I have a plan set up with each professor individually — where I can either Zoom in to class or complete work on my own. (I’ve already been to New Zealand with the Team during the fall term, so I had a bit of a test run when I was there.) It’s taken a bit of logistical maneuvering to get to this point, but I’m thankful that Columbia is willing to work with me and support my athletic endeavors while making sure I still get a (much) more-than adequate education.
Over the summer, our team also had the chance to kick off the next quad (what mogul skiers call the 4 year cycle leading into the next Olympic Games) at Whistler, Canada; Snowbird, USA; and The Remarkables, New Zealand. All three camps have been super productive – especially the last one in New Zealand. The resort was beyond psyched to have us train there; the venue was pretty epic; and the town was extremely fun to explore.
This prep season, I’ve been hard at work improving both my ski technique and my overall speed. Slowly but surely, I’ve been building upon my foundation to take my skiing to a new level that I’ve always wanted to achieve: a level of aggression and dynamic quality that I personally believe matches the risk-taking inherent to my jumping. I feel like I’ve made some big strides in my skiing and I’m excited to put my work to the test in upcoming competitions over the next few months. Here are some pics from training this summer!
As for now…I’m about to board a flight from NYC to Amsterdam, where I’ll meet up with the rest of the US Ski Team en route to Idre F¨jall, Sweden! This will be the first training stop on our Euro trip that marks the start of the competition season!
If you want to follow along as we begin competing this season, you can watch events on skiandsnowboard.live: 12/4 (Ruka, FIN), 12/10-11 (Idre F¨jall, SWE), 12/17-18 (Alpe d’Huez, FRA)! And be sure to stay tuned here for more blog posts and on my Instagram for more skiing pics/vids and more how-to-watch details as the events get closer 🙂
As always, thank you for all your support. I am so thankful for every one of you who is reading this right now — you’ve been a critical supporter of my journey at one point or another. Thank you. Stay tuned; we’re not done just yet… 😏