The first time I ever cried in a workout was my freshman year of college. It was a terrible winter out East and the entire Middlebury College Ski Team had to drive to Stowe everyday for training, which is why I remember the moment so well. If you ski out past the Trapps Family lodge and bang right, you begin climbing. After about half an hour, you reach the top. And what goes up, must come down.
I was skiing with my bud Heather Mooney, an SMS grad and native Easterner. “Oh, you have to take Parizo,” she said, pointing down a winding turn that disappeared into the birch, “It’s the fastest! Maybe ten minutes down.” There should have been an asterisk next to that ten minutes, because what she meant to say was ten minutes down for an Easterner. Ten minutes down for those experienced in skiing on ice. Ten minutes down if you can handle the G forces.
I, a born true westerner, had yet to train on much more than extra blue snow. I knew little of tree skiing and less about cornering (not because of my western upbringing, just because of me). I did not take ten minutes to get down. It did take me about ten minutes, however, to cry. The sliding skis, the crashing limbs and the scratchy snow was enough to induce the water works. That was going to be it, I thought, the end of my ski career.
The winter (that’s 2012) being a scarce one, I had many more opportunities (shall we call them that?) to ski on ice. I learned how to corner, how to step, how to balance. I looked less like a giraffe on a hockey rink. In the end, I didn’t quit skiing.
Fast forward a few years to Canmore, Alberta where we’re currently at our first collective on snow camp of the year. Yesterday morning, the groomer broke and wasn’t able to get out on the track, which left 2km of frozen, rutted ice. At first, as I looked into the reflective surface of the track, I shot back to freshman year. My first instinct was an unfamiliar “I can’t do this.”
I’ll save you the drama. I did it.
As Pat skied with me a few laps in, he commented on how I didn’t look super comfortable on the icy track. “Hey,” I said, scraping around the corner and thinking of that day at Stowe, “It could be worse.”
Now at the end of our three week block, that’s become more or less of our mantra: Could be worse. Sometimes we’re being a little snarky, other times completely authentic. Like this morning, when we woke up, it was pouring rain. As Annie H and I put on our layers and rain jackets, mentally preparing for hundreds of soaking laps, we said. “Hey, could be worse. We could be going roller skiing right now.” Instead, we’re skiing. On snow. In October. Rain or shine, that is something special.
And tomorrow, we’re racing. Start lines, bibs, timers, heats, the whole enchilada. We’re tired and the conditions may or may not be favorable (we won’t know until morning), but, tomorrow, we get to race. The staff here at Frozen Thunder have worked tirelessly to make that happen, work for which we are grateful. We’re on the cusp of what we’ve worked for over the past six months, and right now, we have nothing but potential and energy.
What’s more, even as we work to fundraise through sponsorships, donations and panhandling, Sverre and the gang at Stratton have pulled together one last huge push to help get us through our season. Through November 15th, all donations up to $25K will be matched by a generous donor. That means that every dollar you donate through this page becomes two.
So, yeah. Could be worse.