Looking back and reflecting on the sprint race I realize how much I learn every time I compete at a high level. I didn’t have the best race of my life, but I don’t think that inhibits me from absorbing a ton of valuable experience that I will certainly take forward into my next competition. I honestly think sometimes it’s the days where everything doesn’t go your way that you learn the most, because when everything is working for you it feels easy. I would not describe the U23 sprint day as easy for me. I gave everything I had in my prelim and quarter and I just didn’t have what it took to move on through the heats on that day. It has left me determined to get better and to figure out how to ski better in both the prelim and heats. I felt like as a country the American skiers showed a ton of skill and put hard work and year round dedicated training into action. We had US skiers make the heats in the U20 girls and boys races and the U23 girls and boys races too. That is an incredible platform and demonstrates our growing depth as a nation and the work that these athletes have put in to be here. It shows that we belong at this level, with the best racers under 20 and under 23 in the world.
One thing I think a lot of us are learning this year in particular is how to be flexible to change. There was a time before we came to JWSC that the championship was on hold and we didn’t know if we were going to get to go at all. Then when we got here we dealt with extremely cold temperatures that led to races being delayed to later in the day and the U23 sprint was even moved to the following day. This may seem like a small thing, but when you have a lot of nerves and focus aimed at a race for an entire year, getting all psyched up and then hearing an hour and a half before it starts that it isn’t until tomorrow can be a big rise and fall of emotion. You then have to respond by getting back in a rhythm and repeating the entire process the next day still not knowing if it will be cancelled 1.5hrs before. I am proud of how professionally the US skiers responded to this change, and it didn’t seem to get us off our game at all. We came in with focus and determination to lay our best out there on the course. So I guess as I walk away from my final year at U23 World Championships, the main thing I feel is pride to be a part of this team of incredibly kind, passionate, and hardworking athletes. I wish I could’ve signed off with an incredible result, but I am proud nonetheless because I skied my best and watched my teammates compete with confidence and determination. American skiing is certainly no fluke, and I believe we are only going to get better from here.
Photos: @tomimakipaa1, U.S. Ski & Snowboard, Hannah Halvorsen, and Bryan Fish