Schweitzer Races

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DSC01333Today it feels as if the winter has just begun, though it is already nearing the beginning of February. After a short and sweet break at home for Christmas, our team ventured to the US for GS/SG series in Schweitzer and then back again less than a week later for the Speed Series.

At the first series I finished two out of four races. On the first day I skied straight through the fifth or sixth gate, having made some equipment changes, my skies reacted in a way I wasn’t expecting. I took what I could from the experience knowing I still had another chance. The next day I ski well on the first run, but to round and cautious not wanting to make the same mistake again. On the second run I skied well up until the pitch, didn’t make the proper move forward to readjust my position down the fall line. I got caught on the inside ski and without the power of my downhill ski I got thrown out of the course by a small rut. On the two super-g days I skied respectably considering that it was my first super-g race since that time last year. I was disappointed with how I did, knowing I could have put more on the line. Contrary, feeling my subconscious natural instincts telling me to be ‘safe’ and hold back. I knew I had done what I could in preparation, but was frustrated by the fact that I couldn’t just let my body perform.

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Second time around, we started with two days of downhill training, managing to get in three runs. On the first day I got instinctively nervous considering my past downhill experiences. The biggest thing for me was to ski well and finish every run. Knowing that if I could accomplish this it would be a huge accomplishment, and I was right. The first time I made it down I nearly cried because I was so relieved.  Every run I made it down I felt that same relief to have made it again and again. And on the fifth day it was an amazing feeling to have completed five consecutive downhill runs. I had only ever finished two run before!  I took the good feelings into the super-g and the next day I skied with the most confidence I had in what felt like two years! Realizing that day that I wasn’t doing anything wrong before, that I needed to be patient and know that with time and commitment these things would come together.

KALI START SCWITZER

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On the last day, while slipping the men’s run before our race I witnessed a terrible crash on a part of the course that a few people were having trouble with. I did a good job of not focusing on what I saw, instead visualizing myself skiing that section well. When the time came for my run that image was certainly there. My confidence drifted, I got low on a gate and it was too much to make it back so I skied out.

Since I have been back I have had some good days of training, but also some very rough days. I had a hard time tapping into that confidence that I skied with in the super-g race. Now I am going into a solid training block while the rest of our team heads out to Apex for a Nor-Am speed event. My focus will be on gaining confidence and belief in my self and my abilities. I know that if a bring focus and commitment to myself and my performance, but also relaxation and patience that I can make strong improvements technically, and mentally.

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Eat, Sleep, and Plant Trees

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One tree, two tree, three tree… one thousand seven hundred twenty-five trees. Tree planting is really unlike any job you may ever have. It is dirty, unattractive, back-breaking work. It is work that can push you to your limits but at the end of the day it is satisfying to sit in the truck with aching joints, bruised shins and sun burnt arms. I wake up everyday before six am and clock ten hours of work per day. I don’t know a day out there when I didn’t try my best or push my hardest given my physical state of being. Everyday I planted right up to the end of the day, always pushing to get in the last bundles.

It doesn’t really sound fun, and when people share their stories it often ceases to do the job justice. It seems that when stories are shared they are more often than not about the strenuous repetitive work, the slippery logs piles that reach above you head, the nasty bugs that never leave your side, the blisters and calluses, spending hours or days in an open cut block by yourself,  or waking up with the “claw” or shovel hand. There is often few stories about the people you meet, the lesson it teaches you about yourself, new knowledge about our planet, the stories it gives you to share, or the fact that it takes you away from the reality of our lives. Although is can be unforgiving work, there are aspects that I have grown increasingly fond of.

I enjoy planting trees; I enjoy working hard and having it pay off, I enjoy being outside (although when it’s pissing rain while you are driving up the washed away dirt road, I may beg to differ). I like the break that you get from life and media; the fact that the only thing you have to worry about on a day-to-day basis is how many trees you put in the ground and not about what you look like that day. I also found that over time I began to appreciate the time I was given to spend alone in the wilderness. To understand the work this job requires or the mental effects it has on you, is to live and experience it. Trekking  along with 400 trees on the sides of you hips and bending over every 15 seconds is certainly not for everybody. It requires self-discipline, – for some it is the money that keeps them going – strength, and maturity.