*Ben S. checking in.
I can safely say that this is the most unexpected end of the year blog I’ve ever had to write. Normally, these blogs are an effort of summation: I tell you all about the year, and about the great things that happened during it. I try to look back and put a narrative spin on a season that just finished its last act. Usually, these things are about looking backwards. Usually. This is, however, not a usual time in any of our lives. The ostensible high point of this season didn’t happen. I spent the better part of 2 years excited about the prospect of bringing the World Cup experience to the very park in Minnesota where I first put on a racing bib, and it vanished in a 48 hour period of confusion and worry. I was devastated about that loss (even though I know cancelling it was the right thing to do) and it has left me with the amorphous job of trying to write an end to the season that didn’t actually have an ending.
Usually we get to say goodbye to a year of racing alongside our teammates, coaches, and friends. When we say goodbye together, we get to share those melancholy moments that come with travel waxing your skis for the last time, and packing your winter clothes away until next fall. Over the last two weeks I’ve had to reckon with those moments largely on my own, and it stinks; but if there’s one silver lining, it’s the way in which that isolation has deepened my appreciation for the community of cross country skiing.
Part of saying goodbye together, is allowing for the unspoken moments of thanks that come at the end of a season. Moments when we can finally take a deep breath, and acknowledge the weight of the season’s work we’ve shared with each other; a skier’s blog may not always be the most powerful tool in the world, but at least today, I can use it to do just that.
Sverre, thank you for reminding me of each and every way I can attack my weaknesses, and for keeping our SMS family focused on the big picture throughout the whole year. Pat, thank you for the time and sweat you sacrificed in wax rooms and on road bikes from May until March. To my teammates: thank you for your examples. Sophie for your perspective, Simi for your commitment to fun, Jessie for your composure, Kyle for your focus, Alayna for your laughter, Ian for your excitement, Julia for your refusal to back down, Ben for your ambition, KO for your balance. Every time I put my boots on, I had an example to live up to in each of you. Without you I wouldn’t have been able to keep pushing myself like I have.
It sucks that we didn’t get to share an ending together, but sitting in the snowless Midwest has made me realize how lucky I was to have this last season, even if it was cut short. It’s made me even more excited about the fact that we get to do it again, and truth be told, I can’t wait to get started.