AST 2020 Athlete Journal: Claire Timmermann
I have talked to Leslie (Firstbrook, AST Assistant Coach) about this a few times —
When you ski well you are happy, but in order to ski well you need to be happy.
— So where does it begin? It is a constant cycle that is so easy to break, yet so difficult create, but almost impossible to stay in. Why is that? Why is it so hard to be happy? Why is it so hard to ski well — we’ve only been doing it our entire lives? This season is no exception.
I know these journals are supposed to be about what the ski team is up to in the past and upcoming, but I have never really used mine to do that. If you have followed my journals for the past 3 years, I always use them as a way to express how I am doing. So I might as well not change that now.
I don’t think a start to a ski season has ever been so hard. I don’t think an entire season has ever been this hard. I never thought it would get this draining. I am exhausted. I am frustrated. It has been a lot. It is only mid February but I feel I have no season left. And that is terrifying.
To be blatantly honest, the beginning of this season has been extremely difficult to enjoy. Let me take you back to the start…
The summer was awesome. I’ve never been or felt stronger. It was my job to get my body ready for this season and with the opportunity at CSI, I felt I managed to do that.
Then came Chile. Plans changed for this trip at the very last minute but we made the most of it. I was excited to get back training on hard snow to find technique as usual summer camps are. But in Pucon, it was different: soft, soft, and more soft snow. It was challenging. I honestly wasn’t enjoying myself. My body was ready to be there but my mind wasn’t. I just wanted hard snow to find the technique again. We got some salt but that only does so much. Don’t get me wrong, I was pleased with my skiing for that time of year. But I thought it could be better. It can always be better.
October 1st/2nd. If you read my 1st journal you’ll understand why this was such a hard time.
October 13th-28th. Hintertux on snow camp. I hurt my back day 2. It was the first day in gates and I thought I was able to push through it, but the rest of the camp was a bust. I couldn’t ski like me, nothing felt good. I was doing 3 or 4 runs a day when my teammates where doing 8+. I felt it was unfair. Unfair to me that I went all that way and couldn’t even train. Unfair to my coaches because they couldn’t do anything to help me. Unfair to my teammates because I wasn’t being the teammate I knew I needed to be. When I got home I thought rest was what I needed, but I think it made it worse. Not doing anything for a week was not the best call. I let my core get weak so I had nothing supporting my back. I found this out the day I got back on snow at Nakiska.
November 4th. Nakiska pre-season starts. If you know me I’m not a morning person. So this month I openly dread because it’s 4:47am wake ups for 5 days straight, 2 days off, then repeat. You get home late. Then you have to tune, eat, shower, sleep, and repeat. It is tough. You are fatigued — mentally and physically. I’m not trying to be pessimistic about it because this month of training is vital to get the quality and repetition in before races. And I do believe this month does make you tougher — mentally and physically — however, it is just the fact in getting through it. My first day at Nakiska was horrible. I went there thinking my back was better and I could ski but I was in worse pain than I was in Europe. I tried again the next day and it just got worse and worse —along with my mental state. I went to physio to figure out what was wrong. I was told to do a lot of neutral spine core and book more appointments, but in essence, it was just going to take time. Probably one of the hardest things to hear as an athlete is “give it time”. That really didn’t sit well with me.
When it comes to emotions, I am quite an introverted person. Most of what I do is to make those around me content before I really think about my own happiness. Skiing, however, is usually the exception; I do it for myself. Even so, my worst fear in this sport is disappointing others so I do my best to avoid that, even if that means biting my tongue in uncomfortable situations. But the month of November I felt like I was there for other people. It boiled up to where I broke down and finally spoke the truth… I truly wasn’t happy. It came to a point where I needed a break and time away from the sport. I took days off but I knew skiing was what I needed as the last time I had really trained was in Chile.
I was excited for the month of November to be over. December meant races started at full force. I thought racing would bring me joy and a realization on why I fell in love with this sport in the first place. I was excited to get away from Nakiska and see new faces. But when I got in the start gate I felt numb, almost like I couldn’t care less if I was there. I just wasn’t happy. It hurt to admit. The worst part of it was I was there expecting to ski well even though I was dispirited, which led to me to be continuously disappointed in myself. It was hard, I didn’t realize it was happening until it had happened. I was so blinded by the need to perform that what I actually couldn’t do was perform.
I came into this season with the thought that I either make NCAA or CAST or I quit. And I think that was a bit too much on me that it has created a lot of pressure to perform, and I feel it is a huge reason on why I haven’t yet this season. I have had good days, but they aren’t as consistent as I need them to be. However, I have recently found my footing in training and it has rekindled my joy for this sport. Nonetheless, it doesn’t mean much when you can’t do it on race day, and for me that is my problem. Right now, trying to figure that out is my focus and I am attempting to give myself every opportunity to allow myself to do that.
I am in a better place now and I have seen a drastic change in my skiing just because of my mood. I have learnt what has made me happy. However, I am still coming to senses with the fact that “it is okay”— It is okay to not ski well. It is okay to not always get what you want. It is okay to work hard and fail. It is okay to not always be the best. It is okay if things don’t always go as planned. It is okay to not be okay— I’m continuing to learn to be more accepting of these types of situations. As much as I would love too, I can’t control everything. That being said, I don’t know where I’ll be next week, next month, next year, but what I do know is that I will be happy. And I just can’t wait.
Check out Claire’s Athlete Profile here.