At the start of the 2019/2020 ski season, I did not think I would have the opportunity to represent the United States at the U23 world championships. Not because of self-doubt or lack of determination, but rather it was the first big race of the season. It was a surreal feeling to finally execute the perfect race on the right day and turn my goals into a reality.
With skate distance being my strongest discipline, I was very excited to get the opportunity to compete with the best in the world. Fortunately, the skate sprint was my first race, which gave me a feel for the level of competition I was facing. As I have truly worked my way up through the field in high school and college, this was not my first race starting in the back. I did not let my bib number dictate how I would finish, as I have learned to remain calm at the start and work your way up throughout the race. I did end up in a pile-up around the first downhill corner, but unlike some, I emerged with no broken equipment. I then focused my energy on continually moving up throughout the field and not becoming complacent. The 3.75K loop had no major features but rather a consistent grind with few spots for recovery. While I prefer a course with several substantial, grueling climbs and sections of recovery, I still believe I skied this course extremely well. I allowed myself to push the climbs but stayed focused on the transitional flatter terrain, where you can often make up more time than on the climbs.
With this being my first international exposure, I found myself quite anxious from nerves and excitement leading up to the races. I reminded myself daily to stay calm and positive, which allowed me to enjoy the experience.
I am grateful to NNF for making this experience possible and for giving skiers all across the United States the opportunity to compete. Your support helps make these trips possible for many athletes and, again, I am sincerely thankful for the opportunity.
With much appreciation,