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Luke Jager:

It cold! After a one day delay, the temp leveled out to a balmy -20C and we were able to pull the trigger on the u23 sprint. After a weird, tumultuous season, and a weird tumultuous week leading up to the race, I think we were all just feeling thankful to have an opportunity to race. For me, this was my only race all week, so I was stoked to get down to business! I went into the race with a pretty relaxed attitude, and told myself that I was just gonna go out there and have fun and ski hard and see what I could do. I finished my qualifier feeling like I probably had a pretty good one, then heard over the speaker that I was somewhere in the 20’s. Good enough to qualify, but definitely not the prologue I had hoped for, and more importantly, a blow to the confidence I had going into the race. After a few minutes of self pity and frustration (sorry coaches who had to endure this), I whipped myself back into shape and told myself it was just ski racing and I was in heats and needed to bring back the light hearted attitude I had started the day with. I got lots of energy from seeing my teammates crush the qualifier, which included my roommate Ben pulling out a patented ripping qualifier that was good enough for 3rd.

My heat didn’t pan out the way I had wanted it to after a tangle up ended in a crash. It was frustrating and a disappointing day that ended in me feeling like I was worlds away from the level I thought and hoped I could ski at. The voices of doubt immediately find their way into your head, and it’s easy to feel like you have let down all the people who have supported you. Thankfully, experience and age have brought me sage advice that I could never get from a coach and that I learn for myself every time I toe the line. Simply put, sometimes that’s just the way it goes. Sometimes things don’t always make sense, but that doesn’t mean you stop trying, it means you pick yourself up and figure out what went well, what didn’t go well, change what you have to and get back to work.

In skiing, it’s easy to try and quantify everything. This way of thinking can lead you down a path that isn’t very productive and can exacerbate your insecurities and anxieties about your performance. In this sport, the highs are very high and the lows can feel very low. But it’s important to remember that even on the bad days you are far closer to the good than it may feel like, and far closer than any data may suggest. In the meantime, you have to buy into the process and support your teammates, take care of yourself, and keep looking forward. Ski racing, like life, comes with an endless cycle of ups and downs. We have to choose to learn from the times we spend at the bottom and instead of throwing a pity party for ourselves, get up, lean on our friends and find out how to get to where we want to be. It’s experiences like this trip which has felt weird, disappointing, frustrating, and just downright sad at times that make skiing a worthwhile investment of our time. An investment which will continue to pay dividends no matter what we choose to do long after we hang up the race suits.

It’s easy to say you are going to learn from your mistakes and failures. This idea is so common in our culture that to even type it out feels cliche. However, when you are really presented with obstacles and you are actually frustrated, it’s not easy to be honest with yourself and say, “alright I need to make some changes, let’s figure out what they are.” It’s times like these that make me so thankful for such good friends who are there to help and want to see me succeed just as badly as I want to succeed.

 

Photos: @tomimakipaa1, U.S. Ski & Snowboard, Bryan Fish

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