Due to the limited photo storage on my iPhone (which going on 1.75 years old is some kind of dinosaur in the tech world), I don’t actually have a ton of pictures depicting my adventures over the last month. I’ve been all over the country, begrudgingly had a six piece chicken McNuggets somewhere between Rapid City and Minneapolis (sometimes food is food), had a couple mountain bike crashes, set some new personal training records, and generally kept myself busy enough that I’ve started wishing for another hour in the day.
I do, however, have one of my favorite pictures of all time saved on my phone, probably forever (or at least until I have to try and save it to “the cloud” when my geriatric phone takes its last charge, I’ll crowd source for help when that happens).
There are many questions that are commonly asked of professional skiers. Number one is undoubtedly, “what do you eat for breakfast?” (it varies). Number two probably concerns training, how hard training is, or what I do for training every day (it varies). Then, after those questions, comes the question: what is your favorite part of ski racing? While the skiing fast, training hard, having a strong body, all the medals and glory (and also the money…) are great bonuses, nothing will compare to the women (and more broadly people) I’ve met and the deep seated bond we’ve formed over collective and individual failures and successes.
It has been one of the luckiest things in my life that I landed at Dartmouth College with Erika and Sophie first as scary upper classmen, then (and still) as amazing teammates and mentors, and finally as two of my very best friends. A couple minutes before Erika walked down the aisle to marry the man of her dreams, the only sensible thing to do was a team cheer (1,2,3 ANDY LOVES FLOWERS!). For me, the picture of this moment represents a lot. On the one hand the amount of amazing work and love that went into making the wedding the most beautiful wedding, possibly ever (250 napkins folded, 10 hours of make up application by Erika’s step-sister, some almost sleepless nights, and a 10 mile trail race). But on the other, more important hand, this picture represents absolutely everything that sport can bring you as a female.
This picture is a group of smart, athletic, independent, and powerful women all getting together to support one of their own. And it is the exact reason why I love sport so much, and also the precise reason I have been able to accomplish everything I’ve had in cross country skiing. Because at the end of the day- whether you win, lose, or draw- pictures of those moments aren’t the ones that will force you to conquer your fear of the cloud. It’s what got you there- namely, the people that saw (and even sometimes caused) the tears, sweat, and laughter- that remind you how awesome life truly is, and that the greatest accomplishment of all is the ability to grow and succeed as a group of women.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is that skiing has brought me a lot, but nothing compares to the people and relationships that I’ve had the tremendous luck of forming through my life as a full time skier. So find your people, it makes everything worth it.