Racing is like a box of chocolates…you never know what you’re going to get. Until you’ve had lots and lots and lots of boxes of chocolates. Even then, you never really know.
Because in racing and life, you’ve really got to sink your teeth in to have the full experience.
All that risk, hope and anticipation is rather empty without the experience. Without the experience, there is nothing gained or lost. Nothing can truly be learned or enjoyed from just looking at that box of chocolates. It’s just a box of homogenous brown lumps. Without the experience, you almost don’t know what to hope for, or how much you really can risk.
World Champs was the most incredible experience of my ski career. It was also, bar none, the hardest.
I thought I knew precisely how tough it would be; I actually thought I was being quite honest with myself in this department. I also thought I knew how amazing it would be to watch some of the strongest and inspiring women I know chase their goals.
But I didn’t, and I never expected the torrent of emotions or forced growth that went along with all of the actual experiences. Or how much I would learn about myself, my teammates and coaches.
It was the experience of a career—being a part of one of the strongest women’s teams in the world. The overwhelming joy I felt watching Kikkan, Jessie and Sophie and then Sadie and Jess again, find the top spots. I experienced the growing pains of a team, realizing that having a strong team means if you want security in a start spot, then you need to be throwing down results consistently, and acknowledging that that is a very positive to challenge to have to face.
I had honest conversations with some really great people after I spent too much time, energy and sleepless nights fighting a fight in my head that I never wanted to be a part of. I cried more tears of frustration, disappointment, and confusion than I have in recent memory. And truly the best experience of it all: 2.5 hours before the start of the 30k, when I was a puddle of nerves and excitement…a simple good luck hug from a teammate made me spontaneously burst into tears of simple happiness. The epic highs and lows that I have experienced in this wild ride are what made the opportunity to race in Lahti so special.The thing is, I could write for pages about these experiences, and what I learned from it. And you would nod your head and say ‘oh interesting,’ and you might even find it mildly educational. However, I would rather you experience it for yourself.
So go find something you truly care about, then risk and hope and dream and anticipate, then as the analogy goes…start eating.
Thank you to NNF and its supporters, which makes this experience possible.
The NNF's mission is to support athletic excellence in developing nordic athletes in the United States.
Thank you so much! I am here at the U23 World Championships in Val di Femme, Italy. It would not be possible to be here without the support of the NNF.- Ben Lustgarten