ASXT Athlete Journal: Mara Bishop

Hello, fellow ski enthusiasts!

I’m Mara Bishop and I am one of four ladies on the Alberta Ski Cross team. This is my second-year skiing with Alberta Alpine and these past 12 months have been challenging, to say the least. Despite the pandemic’s unknown hurdles, the team has made big strides in our skiing this season.

The 2020/2021 season has been a significant test of my personal mental strength. At the beginning of the season, I got two days on snow before having to go into the first of many 14-day quarantines. After being released into the public for three days, I got a cold and had to isolate myself once again. November was a month spent almost entirely in my apartment; I couldn’t wait to join the team and get on snow again.

In December I got to start training gates again and pick up where I had left off last season. A couple weeks training gates in beautiful Panorama made my heart and soul happy; Panorama is one of my favorite places to train. The resort is extraordinarily accommodating and built a fantastic start section with Canada Snowboard Cross that ASXT was able to use while we were there. At the end of December, I hit my hand against a boulder free skiing at Lake Louise and I regressed back to technical free skiing once again. As the New Year rolled in, I was keen to get back into training gates and on the track built at Pass Powder Keg.

Boom. On January 1 Alberta Health Services called to advise I must self-isolate once again. My heart was breaking; I had to quarantine again and miss out on another training camp. I was hopeful that I was covid free, but I did end up contracting the virus and was in isolation for 20 days total.

I rejoined the team at the end of January; I had a few days of technical free skiing before I was able to get into gates and on the track. February was fabulous (despite the cold snap we had). I saw improvement in all aspects of my skiing and was excited to get on with the rest of my season with no more hiccups. March rolled around, we got some fantastic super-g, GS, and slalom training at Nakiska during the first week. Bam. March 5, my ski got caught in some funky snow, I high sided myself, and smacked my noggin real hard on the ground. I sustained my fourth concussion. The month of March, I spent entirely in my basement recovering from my crash, but I did get to enjoy the beautiful early spring weather Calgary had to offer. On April 7, I finally was cleared to return to snow, and I got to rejoin the team at Sunshine, hoping to get a good day of TFS in, but we were snowed out by mother nature. Despite my first day on snow being cut short, my spirits are high, and I am eager to return to training once again.

I have skied maaaybe 20-30 days this season. I have taken hit after hit this year; it feels as though the world doesn’t want me to ski.  I looked back in my journal from last March and the beginning of the ski season. I was afraid of how my mental health would handle this pandemic and a ski season with no competitions. Looking back on this season thus far, I have taken care of myself far better than I thought I would. I believe the most significant stride I have made this season is in my mental performance, I have been put down almost every month this season, and I come back with a smile on my face and eagerness to train. I am so proud of myself.

As most sports have been shut down this year, we are fortunate to train in the mountains and have a couple gym sessions each week in the city. Even though we’ve had no competitions, we have been able to push one another on and off snow to become better athletes and competitors. I am so proud of my team and the significant improvements in everyone’s skiing this season.

I wish that you, the reader, are taking care of yourself, mentally and emotionally. Everyone is fighting their own battles and finding ways to survive these trying times. Remember to be kind to one another and focus on the silver linings in your day; there are good things in each day, even if they are small.

Stay positive and test negative, my dudes.

Mara 🙂

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