The tone was different at the Under23/Junior Trials at Lappe last weekend, compared to my previous experiences competing and spectating at the event. It may have just been my perception of it though.
Arriving at Trials after a mostly downhill rollercoaster of racing at US Nationals the week prior, I felt pretty relaxed. My greatest stress was not having the courses dialled in like many of my teammates who spent the holidays in Thunder Bay did, but being familiar with the terrain spared me of serious anxiety and surprises. This season, I’d say I’ve been much more relaxed coming into races than in previous years. Everything about racing on the NorAm has become very familiar.
I still think I was remarkably at ease for Trials, considering they were selection races… Maybe it was because I hadn’t framed these races as a critical event; it was just another weekend of racing. Or perhaps it was because of the smaller and weaker field. (I do not mean to discredit anyone who competed in saying that, I simply mean to address that the best skiers, from up to the holidays, were not present.)
Regardless, before the end of the weekend I found myself qualified for the World Championships. Yes! Finally!…(?) The thing is, the qualification felt pretty anticlimactic. The emotions, the excitement, the relief of qualifying didn’t register like they have for other big racing accomplishments in my life. Of course, being on the podium and sharing that success with fellow racers is fun and put me in a good mood. But without the event being chalked up to more than “just another weekend of racing”, and the field being so incomplete, it didn’t feel like a huge accomplishment.
Up until Trials this past weekend, I wasn’t planning on attending the World Championships, let alone focussing energy to qualify. My eyes have been set on the Canadian World Cups, Ski Tour Canada, since it was announced. And why not – there’s three sprint races, two of which are in the first three days. I’m far from specialized in sprinting, but realistically, it’s my best bet for a breakthrough performance. So it wasn’t until I’d won the first U23 selection event that I paused to think “hey, should I give it a try?”.
As with most decisions, there are pro’s and con’s to every option. The pro’s of going to World U23 Champs are that I get to race overseas, which, as I’ve been only been told, is a different ball game than racing in Canada. So I’ll gain experience and I’ll learn, excellent. Another pro is that, with a top 12 finish, I could qualify for the National Team. So I could make the National Team, sweet. The con’s of going to World U23 Champs are that it costs $2500. So I’ll be spending a lot of money for just a couple races, hn. Another con is that I could come back fried and travel fatigued or sick for the Ski Tour World Cups and waste the $3000+ and opportunity I had there, shoot.
After mulling over these points and others, talking with other athletes, coaches, people… I arrived at what seems like a good compromise, or balance, should I say. The plan now for me to attend the U23 World Championships,then depart the event early and travel back to Canada; giving myself about a week, to recoup and prepare to compete in the World Cups (which I haven’t actually qualified for yet, but should… hopefully).
I’m looking forward to the new racing experiences that lay ahead, but am still waiting for the nervous excitement to set it. I haven’t been very nervous for races this year, and I sort of miss it. They’ll come, I’m sure. : )