Thursday, April 26, 2018

What a Year!

It's been awhile since my last post, but it was a long and exciting season with many highs, a few lows, and now a few weeks of "off time" to reflect on the past year, take a little mental and physical break from ski racing, and get excited for the next year. The end of the season was a whirlwind, but now that the Olympics are two months in the past, the rollercoaster of emotions and experiences are beginning to sink in. I can't put into words how grateful and happy I am that I was able to witness what will likely be the biggest moment in cross country skiing history when Jessie and Kikkan won the gold in the team sprint. It was the second medal ever won by a U.S. cross country skier, the first gold, and the first ever won by a woman. The tears of happiness and amazement that streamed down our faces during that event will be ones I remember fondly forever.
Going through Olympic processing with Liz

GOLDEN GIRLS (flyingpointroad photo)

My races at the Olympics were a mixed bag of emotions. It's easy to dream big when you're on the big stage. Everyone is hoping to have the race of their lives when they're at the Olympics and even though it wasn't the race of my life, placing 8th in the classic sprint was a result I was proud of. I had the best season of my life this past year, but it was predominantly in skate sprinting and to be 8th in the world in a classic sprint was a really solid result for me. After the first few races, I was chosen to be the scramble leg for the 4x5km relay. I was ecstatic, nervous, and humbled to be on a team with Sadie, Kikkan, and Jessie and we started the morning of the relay off with a team jog that included a dance practice, lots of laughter, and a face paint application party. The pace of the relay started out faster than any race I've ever done, and I tried my best to hang on, but ended up exploding and tagging Sadie a ways back. I had dreamed of a medal for that team, whether I was on it or not, and to say I was heartbroken after my leg would be an understatement. My teammates skied their hearts out and we finished the day in 5th and met Jessie with a big hug in the finish area. I couldn't stop crying out of disappointment, but the girls were so quick to remind me that all anyone ever expects is that we race our hardest and that is exactly what we all did. I was lucky to have teammates, coaches, friends, family, and a boyfriend who reminded me over and over that not one of them was disappointed in me. It's still hard for me to think about that race, but it will always be an honor for me to have been named to that relay and my sad tears quickly turned to happy tears watching Jessie and Kikkan win the team sprint and watching all my teammates ski their hearts out at the games.
Goofing off on a ski with Noah. Noah has been my friend and teammate for a long time now. This was his last season as a ski racer and I'm sad to see him go, but excited to see what comes next for him!

Group hug after the 4x5k relay (flyingpoint photo)

After the Olympics, it's sometimes difficult to motivate for another month on the World Cup, but I found myself looking forward to the familiar routine of World Cup life. I never quite felt like I was firing on all cylinders during the last World Cup period of the season, but I tried to approach each race with confidence and looked forward to every opportunity I had to race through the end of the season. I had some solid results, making the semi finals in Lahti and the finals in Falun and was psyched to be able to do some more distance racing as well.
Racing the classic 10k in Lahti (Toko US/Nordic Focus photo)

Race prep with the girls

Racing the 10km skate in Lahti with Kikkan, which was Kikkan and Liz's final World Cup race (Photo: eventbilder)

When I sat down with my coach, Matt Whitcomb, two years ago to make some goals, he suggested I put being ranked top 3 in the sprint cup as a two year goal for myself. I was hesitant at first because it was a big reach and I also tend to shy away from making concrete results based goals, but what did I have to lose? This past season was the best season of my life and I had some standout results for myself with three individual WC podiums, a WC win, and a WC team sprint podium with Ida, but I think what I was most proud of was the consistency of my season. I placed in the top 10 in every sprint this season except for one and I was able to do that by learning to ski with the confidence that that was where I belonged. I knew my coach believed in me, my teammates believed in me, and I believed in myself and that confidence allowed me to have a dream season, finishing 3rd in the World Cup sprint rankings. When I look back at the training we did, it wasn't anything magical. It was my 5th season racing the full World Cup circuit, so we had a lot of information about what had worked for me in the past and what hadn't. I had process goals of getting strong, not getting too tired during the end of the training season, and jumping in some more distance races in order to increase my fitness and to do some more racing. I like to keep things simple and it's always rewarding when a good plan that makes sense ends up working!
Posing with Liz and Matt after getting my sprint cup award

After over four months on the road, I was able to enjoy a few days at home in southern Vermont before heading up to Craftsbury for SuperTour Finals/Spring Series. Craftsbury did an amazing job of running the best Spring Series I have ever been to. The beautiful weather and great snow conditions didn't hurt, and the races went off seamlessly. I was pleasantly surprised to discover I still had some energy left and was able to put together four good races with the highlight being our SMS T2 team taking the club relay win for the second year in a row!
Going for a ski at Wild Wings, my hometown nordic center in Peru, VT

Supertour finals sprint podium (John Lazenby photo)

Jumping for joy after the 10km skate with the girls of SMS T2 (Reese Brown photo)

SMS T2 posing with Jessie's gold medal after our club relay win! (Reese Brown photo)

Last race of the season - 30km classic! Happy to be done with a great season, but sad to see a couple of these girls retiring (Reese Brown photo)
After Spring Series, I spent a few days with some of my girlfriends in northern VT, took a trip to Portugal and played tourist with my parents for a week, and have been enjoying some backcountry skiing and desert time in the west with Simi and his family for the rest of the month. I'm looking forward to kicking things into gear in another week or two and heading to our first camp of the season in Bend, Oregon during the last ten days of May.
Liz and I facing our fears with the help of our trusty guide, Simi

Girls weekend in Vt!

Biking through the desert

Family time in Portugal


Touring with Al and Sim in Colorado
Thanks for following my journey and happy spring!!

2 comments:

  1. Fantastic post capping off a goal-crushing season, Sophie. Thank you so much for sharing the journey with us. I can't wait to see what you accomplish this coming season!!!

    -Andy

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  2. Happy Spring! You had a great season and we enjoyed watching every race! Go for it!

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