This is the last week before heading to Sochi and I realized that I haven’t written anything about the last two months. I honestly haven’t had the quiet time and space to put down all the ideas rumbling around in my head and right now I am going back and forth between three different things I want to write about and can’t decide which one comes first. But I suppose it should be this one, because it segues into all the others.
In a week I will be heading to Sochi, Russia, for my first Olympics. It hasn’t totally hit me yet but everyone that has already gone tells me I will really feel it when we go to Munich for team processing to get all the clothing and credentials for the Olympics
Making this team has been a totally different experience than I always imagined in my head.I would say that this is partly because of what I went through four years ago when I DIDN’T qualify. I was totally devastated and I have vivid memories of sitting in the shower at the hotel room and just sobbing and sobbing. I was an athlete on the bubble and I just wasn’t good enough, but I was hoping so hard I could make it. All I needed was a little bit of luck. But that is not what you want when you are trying to make an Olympic Team.
This time around, I came into an Olympic year from a totally different position where I was much more prepared to compete at a high level, both physically and mentally. The entire summer of training was based around the premise that I would be competing at the Olympics. It was not a “maybe” sort of thinking, but a “when I am there” type of mentality. This was something we worked on with our sports psychologist- being ready for success. And having my first World Cup success last year, my own attitude about myself had totally changed. I felt like actually had the potential to be a REAl competitor at the Olympics and not simply a participant. But in the early season racing, my expectations of what I felt I could accomplish and what actually happened were not the same. I didn’t feel lucky to make the Olympic Team, I just felt glad that I could go back to just focusing on the process of racing and being the competitor that I had been training to be all summer.
I always imagined that qualifying for the Olympic team would be euphoric. But at the time, when my coach told me that I qualified, it wasn’t. It was a relief, but not euphoric. There were no fireworks exploding above my head and feelings of giddiness. This in part because I had just raced with a muscle spasm in my back and I was having a hard time just standing up- so my first concern was how I was going to make it back to our wax cabin. I was also disappointed in myself for not qualifying due to any special results but simply because I had the best placing out of a team that wasn’t really where we felt like we should be. I couldn’t celebrate and feel happy knowing that my teammates still had to go through the stressful process of qualifying.
This type of euphoric feeling that I imagined would happen when qualifying for the Olympics, happened a few years ago when I received the phone call that I qualified for my first World Cup. This was after not being named to the National Team the year following the 2010 Olympics. That is something I will always be proud of myself for; not giving up after a major setback. I was also lucky. My coach and partner at the time, Patrick Coffey, believed in me, the National biathlon team didn’t shut any doors, but instead welcomed me to train with the team when it was appropriate, and the OTC allowed me to use their resources despite the fact that I wasn’t on the national team. For that, I will always be incredibly grateful because it allowed me to be where I am right now.
More positive feelings didn’t come until I got home and I could relax and be with my family. The most amazing part of qualifying for the Olympics is feeling the passion and excitement of other’s for me. There has been an incredible outpouring of support from my family and community and I feel so proud to represent my small town.
The most special moment that I have experienced was when the owner of the local ski area, Dewey Mt., asked me to come and ski with the kids one evening and when I got there, there was a big crowd of people and kids, including my family, and I was presented with a trail sign named after me. It was one of the best feelings ever because I have so many memories of racing there at night and going off jumps with my friends when I was growing up. Our community completely rallies behind all of us who have Olympic aspirations.
I haven’t had the performances that I have been expecting or working towards but to the people in my town, it doesn’t matter. That is better than any euphoric feeling that I anticipated to feel when qualifying for the Olympics and it is what I have realized what making the Olympics has meant to me. It’s not about MY feelings, but the feelings of the community that brought me up and what it means to them to have so many of the kids that they helped raise competing in the biggest sporting event in the World.
Thank you to my family and my town- I am so proud to be going to Russia for you all!