Starting another season seems unreal to me, as time seems to move faster every year. I still have plans for the summer that I didn’t quite get to, errands to run before going on the road, and a list a mile long of people I want to hug before I leave. So much for all of that…
Every season starts a new year for me, a reset in a way, to see what can happen ‘this time.’ The only difference going into the competition season this year will be the massive elephant in the room also known as the Olympics. I have trained hard all summer, made gains, and gotten stronger than I have ever been. But in reality, none of it matters until I get on ice that first time, put a racing bib on for the first time, and see the results when going up against the world for that first time in a season. This year in particular every tenth of a second of our training will be scrutinized, whether consciously or merely ‘just because.’ Everybody wants to know if the past three and a half years have paid off. For my team it started three weeks ago and is only gaining momentum from here.
This is the third time I am attempting to make an Olympic team, something I couldn’t have imagined ever saying. Each time has been light years different and even after taking into account all the lessons I learned each quad, I will still always think there is something I could do or should have done better. I guess this is the curse of being a competitor. Now that we have started the process, there is an ongoing, underlying tension that we might as well get used to because it’s here to stay until Dec. 15th, the day our Olympic team is officially named. Hopefully for me, it can go away before that! Once World Cup competition starts we have an opportunity every race to make the Olympic team, or at least move a step closer. So really, the sooner I can nail two great race runs and place in the top 5, the better! I am anxious to get racing underway, but nervous at the same time, as it becomes a type of judgment day, a time to find out what the road ahead may look like. Out of the first five tracks we race on, I have medaled on three and had extremely disappointing finishes on the other two. This tiny detail is what makes my third road to the games different from all the others. I have come to this qualification process with more experience at both ends of the success scale, than my other Olympic berths combined. I continue to use this to my advantage, and consistently have mastered the art of staying calm at races, not over thinking every scenario, as well as learning to be better at taking it all in. My life has been full of irreplaceable experiences that few can say they have.
My team has five strong girls on it, gunning for only three Olympic spots. So while I have no idea if I will be walking into that stadium in a few months, I know I am just as prepared, if not more so, than any other athlete I am up against in World Cup racing in order to put myself in that Team USA uniform. In just a few short weeks, the fun will really begin…our World Cup opener is in Lillehammer, Norway on November 16th & 17th. I will be hoping for an early birthday present!