Happy New Years! Plus a few biathlon resolutions.
We were sitting at dinner last night, talking about biathlon racing, and how it has evolved for all of us women who have been on the World Cup for a few years now. I remember the extreme excitement I felt when I raced my first world cup. For example, I almost peed my pants when I got to the hotel and I saw Bjorndalen sitting on an exercise bike in the hallway. I don’t get that excited anymore. But it was so fun when I did! I also remember smiling the entire time I got to race because it felt so special and cool. And having fans cheering! And then there was ABBA playing on the jumbotran during training. Heaven! What could be better.
But after awhile, you start to get used to things. And then it becomes normal. And it is not enough to JUST BE on the World Cup anymore, because your expectations rise- as they should. So sometimes you forget to look around and enjoy the music, the crazy fans and their drunkenness, the other athletes you look up to, the great coaches and techs you get to work with, and the fact that this is a part of your life that you can only do for so many years and then it is over. S0 one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to remember to look around me and remember that feeling of excitement to simply be here, doing what I do.
It is also a New Year’s resolution to remember all the different reason’s that I do biathlon and why it has meaning, even outside of myself. Sometimes it feels like pursuing this sport is solitary and selfish. Luckily I have so many people that are involved in trying to help me excel, that I do feel a tremendous responsibility to them. But there are other people, for whom it also matters that I do biathlon, but in a very different way.
During Christmas, I experienced a few funny examples of the other people that this sport reaches through myself, that was a great reminder. These little people are my nieces and they are ages three and five, Eloise and Lila, respectively.
We were having a fun family dinner and I was sitting and reading some books with Lila and she told me that she and Eloise “played biathlon” that afternoon. “Cool!” I answered, and then asked how exactly they went about playing biathlon. “Well, I tied a pencil to my back and that was my rifle”. Later on, my older sister told me that they were running around the house and Lila was telling Eloise that she had to do her penalty laps. I hope she didn’t forget to do any of them like I did in my last World Cup…
Then, the next day, we were out skiing together and I had my Jack Russel tied around my waist and she was pulling both Lila and I down the trails. At one point we stopped to wait for the rest of my family and Lila looked at me in the way that kids do when they really imitate grown-up gestures. She put one hand on her hip and the other to her face and asked me “So, like, how’s the skiing going lately”?? It was a priceless moment of her asking me to treat her like a peer and also showed me how well they actually understand what I do. I had to tell her that the first few races didn’t go as well as I wanted, but that I had one really good race that gave motivation and hope that the season still could be good.
And then yesterday, I called my parent’s from Oberhof and they happened to be babysitting. My youngest niece Eloise was there and she wanted to talk. She asked me to tell the “story about skiing”. I wasn’t sure exactly what she meant by that because earlier she had been fascinated by the fact that I had been skiing in a tunnel in Sweden. So she told me to “tell the the story about the girls who stand in a line first and then the other girls who stand in a line behind them”. Aha! The Pursuit. Now I knew what she wanted. So I told her a story about the girl who skis the fastest on one day, has to start first and then all the girls behind her have to try and catch her during the race. We got a little distracted after that and I never finished my story, but that’s okay. There’s a story like that every week that she can watch on Biathlonworld.com.
I adore these two little girls- they are crazy and fun, have all sorts of energy, and are incredibly loving. I wonder about what they will be like when they grow up and if they will love skiing as much as I do and if they will be competitive or not. It will be fun to see either way. But it feels really good to know that they watch what I do and even understand it better than most people I meet. It makes me feel connected to them even though I am gone away from home and I always miss them.
It is also a biathlon resolution to not wait until the last World Cups to be friends with girls from other teams. This happens because people forget to loosen up until the end is in sight. I always think to myself that I am skiing around with 100 girls who probably have a lot in common with me and there are probably some great life friends to be had out on the tracks. But sometimes you get so wrapped up into your team that you forget to reach out. But we are already off to a good start! Having hot chocolate and tea with a bunch of girls in Slovenia got the ball rolling and yesterday some French athletes gave us a bag of special (and very stinky) French cheese that would have cost a bazillion dollars in the U.S. Now we just have to remember to bring it with us everywhere until we finish eating it!!
Those are a few of my thoughts coming into this new year of racing and I hope that I can always remember how lucky I am to have the privilege to compete at this level, to have such an unbelievable support network around me, and then when it is all over to still have good and new things to try. HAPPY NEW YEARS!
P.S. I am also thankful that I got to see what it looks like in Oberhof when there is actually snow and sun! I wish I had proof in photo form. Now it is back to the usual which looks like this: