This week marks the last World Cup races of my career! I have finally decided to move on and try something new in my life, but it is a bittersweet feeling and I have been processing so many different emotions this week. I could not have imagined a better way to finish my last race than as the anchor leg of the relay with my teammates cheering me on over the last hill. I think I started crying before I even got to the finish line!
Retirement is a topic that is not discussed very much even though it is a really important part of an athlete’s career. It is a topic that I have been thinking about a lot this year, but have also kept mostly to myself because it is so personal and hard to discuss openly with people. One one hand, you think about it every time you have a good or bad performance. On the other hand, you try not to think about it so that you aren’t distracted from being in the moment. So how do you know when it is your time to leave your sport? Do you stay in sport because you are at the top of your game ? Or do you retire because it is super to finish at your best? Do you stay in a sport because you have potential that you have not lived up and you just need to keep trying to figure it out? Or do you retire because you are not accomplishing what you would like? Do you let your moments of brilliance keep you going? Or do you let yourself work on the next phase of life, which is inevitably going to come? Do you focus on the good things that keep you going? Or do you focus on the challenges?
I think that if you are lucky, you get to decide when to be done. And I actually think that the answer is none of these things, but it has taken me a long time to realize that. You decide to retire, not because you are not good enough, or not because you are as good as you will ever be, but because another life starts to beckon and you start dreaming about other things. .
This year I started to see the world go by and friends start to move forward in their lives in a way that I have noticed feeling wistful about. Biathlon, although it is incredibly challenging, is also a safe place for me, a place of the known. The next step in life is hard to imagine and committing to it is a big leap of faith. It is scary and exciting. Biathlon is all I have ever really done and it has always guided every decision I have made. Living a life without the boundaries of biathlon is intimidating as well as liberating.
I am here at the Oslo World Championships and all through this week while I have been racing, I have felt such mixed emotions. It has been here that the decision to retire has finally sunk in. At times, I feel elated. I will never have to feel so nervous for hours of a day because I am waiting to race. I will never have to be obsessive about sanitizing my hands before I eat, because soon I won’t care! I can go on crazy outdoor adventures when I want to and it won’t have to fit into a training plan. But I am also sad. I am sad that I didn’t quite figure out how to be the best biathlete I could be, as often as I would have liked. I am sad to say goodbye to such an amazing groups of people. I can’t believe how lucky I have been to be surrounded by such as supportive, fun, crazy staff. And I am going to miss my teammates terribly. I don’t think many people have the chance to get to know such great people in such an intimate way very often. And it is hard to say goodbye to a life and know that you really have to leave it.
I am both nervous and excited about what comes next and I hope that I find something in my life that makes me feel purpose the same way that biathlon has for all of these years. I am incredibly grateful to have spent so many years of my life doing something with such passion and excitement. I hope that I can give back what biathlon and it’s community has given to me.
I feel very lucky to have my parents here to celebrate the end with me and also for all the people who have been there for me in the rollercoaster life that is biathlon. Thank you to everyone!