Monday, February 3, 2014

A Fresh Perspective

     Sometimes what you love needs to be taken away from you to fully appreciate it. Having not raced in a while, I feel like I have a fresh perspective on the whole thing. I have noticed that the way I look at a race and the way I prepare for it has changed. I seem to enjoy or appreciate different things about ski racing. This weekend, I raced a skate sprint and a 15 km mass start classic race at Eastern Canadians at Nakkertok, my home club. After a pretty crazy day on Friday, I am extremely happy to say that I won! Yay!
A very happy Emilie after the sprint

     I had a bit of a rough start to the day on Friday. A week ago, I dropped a 40 pound trap door on my head and ever since, I have been getting headaches. Friday was no different, and I woke up with a headache once again. Having heard about so many bad experiences that athletes have had with concussions, it is needless to say that I was pretty scared. After either having problems with sickness or injuries for the last 3 years, I have become very wary of this type of thing. So, more than ever, I understand the importance of making sacrifices that will pay off in the long run. After talking to my coach, Kieran, I decided to not race. I was heart broken. I don't think I have ever been so disappointed about not racing in my life! About 30 minutes before my race, Kieran came to see me. He had talked to a doctor and he was pretty convinced that I didn't have a concussion. So, I decided to race! After about a 15 minute warm-up, I was at the start line ready to go...kind of. It wasn't my best qualifier but I felt A LOT better than I did in the Canmore sprint. I was feeling pretty confident that I could go a lot faster in the heats! Going through the quarter and semi-finals, my goal was to ski as efficiently as possible while testing out different tactics. When it came time for the finals, I was confident that I could win. I had super fast skis and got ahead on the first downhill, so I decided to just go for it!

Celebrating my sprint win

     The best thing about Fridays race though, was something that you might not expect it to be. It was great to feel good skiing again and to win, but the best part was how excited everybody seemed to be about my win. Coming into the finish, there was a lot of cheering, after the race, I was greeted by my very excited teammates and coach and for the rest of the day, Nakkertok parents and skiers came up to me to give me a hug and congratulate me. Everybody seemed to be just as excited as me about the race. This is when I finally realized and understood that when I was going through tough times, everybody had my back. Having that kind of support is the best thing you could ask for as an athlete and it is hard to fully understand how important it is. I guess sometimes running into an obstacle (double meaning intended) is what it takes to fully appreciate skiing and everything that comes with it.

My teammate Alex, very excited about my win even though she missed out on making the A-final  because of a fall
     The next thing that has changed is my perspective of results. After my first race of the season in Canmore, I went for a cool down, came back and talked to my coach and Dad about the race. They seemed really excited. But, only  after a few minutes of talking to them, did I ask how I did. Then, after the qualifier on Friday, I hardly payed attention to the results. Somebody told me I qualified 3rd and I took their word for it. Before heading out to warm up for my heats, I sneaked a peak at my qualifier result and that was it. I used to be the type of person who would analyse results, figuring out how far behind or in front each person in my heat was from me in the qualifier and then trying to figure out whether I thought I could make up or lose that time. We are always told as athletes to make goals that depend on ourselves and ourselves only. So that would mean not to have result oriented goals. But it is so hard to do that, especially being the competitive person that I am. What makes a good race, is a race where you are able to push yourself as hard as you possibly can and feel good doing it. Not being able to do that for a while made me realize what I truly loved about the sport. And now, I can honestly say that what's important is just going out there and killing yourself. I never would have said this a few years ago, but who cares about what place you came and who beat you? The point is, ski racing is awesome! I took these lessons I learnt to heart on Sunday and just went out there and had fun!
Coming down Dirks Dive with Ember Large close behind in the 15km classic race on Sunday
Until next time,