January 11, 2018

Happy New Year everyone!

I hope everyone enjoyed the well-needed days off with friends and family over the holiday season.

With the holiday break coming to an end, I’m so excited to get back on snow as I have discovered something over our days off. Even though there is the saying, “train like you race, so you can race like you train”, it is interesting and sometimes amusing to see the changes in skiing from a training run to a race run. No one wants the skiing to change but sometimes it just does and no one knows why. Maybe it’s nerves. Maybe it’s mental. Maybe it’s race day energy. That said, the first month of race season is always an eye opener, for both the racer and their coaches. It is the time to see where you stand against other racers, and how you’re skiing changes when you’re in race day mentality. We now have 2 weeks of on hill training to improve on what the coaches saw on race day and what we saw in our race run videos, before our next race series at Lake Louise (Jan. 18-21).

Being home for 2 weeks has given me a great opportunity to catch up in school, spend time with family, and also let me think about an experience I had in pano without the distraction of Zoe constantly asking me to go “settle” (hehe).

I’ve never been the one to show emotion or frustration about not finishing a race or run cause it rarely ever happened to me in past seasons. So the thought of what it means to DNF never crossed my mind. However, after the consistency of failing multiple times, its all I can think about.

Pano was a frustrating couple of weeks for me, as I only saw the finish line a few times. Now being home to just sit down and think about it has helped me shine a bright light on what I need to take away from a DNF.

On some days things don’t go as planned. You fall. Or fail. Or stumble. It’s life. But crashing doesn’t mean you’re failing, it means you’re striving to be better. It’s a counterintuitive action that happens in ski racing. Not finishing is a huge part of this sport, but its surprising how many people miss the good that comes from it. Most people just see it as a frustrating piece that they can’t seem to fix. They tend to overthink it and doubt their abilities, or just try to forget about it completely, and for those reasons they keep making the same mistake(s) and fail to reach their goal(s). And that’s what has happened to me. I failed to finish 7 out of the 10 races held in pano, and man was I ever frustrated. On the first FIS pano GS race, I pushed out of the start and left my fear behind me. Things started to finally come together and feel like clean, fast skiing. I made it down the majority of the course but crashed at the 4th last gate. I was SO extremely frustrated that I fell, not because it was the 5th race I failed to finish at Pano but because it felt like solid skiing. I was so worked up and focused on what I did wrong that I neglected to acknowledge that it WAS a good run up until that 4th last gate. The following day was another GS where I was determined to redeem myself. I tried forgetting about what I did the day before, wanting to just focus on my next run. My skiing wasn’t as clean, I made a few mistakes, but it still was a fast, aggressive charge up until the 4th last gate… again. I did EXACTLY the same thing as the day before. I failed to learn how to fix my mistake because I was grieving over what I did wrong. I was down in the dirt not believing in myself. I’d never DNFed so many times in my life and I had no idea what I was doing wrong. The coaches could tell I was frustrated and wanted to help, but I didn’t want to talk about it cause I thought if I forgot about it, I could walk away from it like it never happened. I was wrong. The night of the 2nd GS, Thedy pulled me aside after meeting and said, “I DNFed 15 races in a row my second year FIS before I finally laid one down and results began to show. Even those at world cup level DNF, but it only makes them better.” As much as it is frustrating to not finish, what Thedy said to me is what I needed to hear to start believing in the process and myself again. It gave me a little bit of hope to keep trying. You can’t experience the highs of succeeding without feeling the lows of failing. Crashing shows the risks you’re willing to take, and the drive and determination you have to be a better and faster skier. I’ve been too cautious in past seasons, just skiing to finish, hence why there were so little DNF’s, but that has only gotten me so far. So knowing that what happened in Pano is just the beginning of my growth, only motivates me and excites me more to get back on the slopes and work on what can get me through those final 4 gates.

“Winners are not afraid of losing. But losers are. Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.”  -Robert T. Kiyosaki


Claire Timmermann

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