Then to now, part one.

Week 1 –

Show up

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NDC at Nationals in 2014. Standing L-R: Camille Cheskey, Jack Carlyle, Timo Puiras, Jenn Jackson, Andy Shields, Erin Tribe, Alannah MacLean, Scott Hill, Victor Wiltmann. Sitting L-R: Nick Monette, Bob Thompson, Evan Palmer-Charrette, Ben Wilkinson-Zan

In spring 2016, when I left the NTDC in Thunder Bay, I took a first conscious step to change what I wanted to do with my life. Growing up, there really weren’t any hard deliberate choices to make, things more or less flowed and meshed together, naturally evolving as I pursued both school and sports – eventually leading me to the north shores of Superior to train to be a World Cup cross country skier.

I spent the next three years with coaches Timo Puiras and Victor Wiltmann, as well as an incredible blend of people within the ski community in Thunder Bay, working on my craft as a skier. I wouldn’t trade the time and experiences I had there for anything.

My only regret is that I couldn’t make it work out…

After two difficult junior race seasons, I finally broke through and was seeing some big improvements in my results; Junior National titles, NorAm podiums, qualifying for my first World Championship team as a U23, and World Cup events. And as this all ramped up, somewhat paradoxically, I stopped wanting it.

Cross country skiing is a tough sport, and I think that’s why most skiers like it – there’s something satisfying about being good at something difficult. But being a ski racer is even harder. If you don’t want to race, you just can’t do it well.

And that was really it: I didn’t want to be a world class skier anymore, my dream didn’t line up with reality – and it took a while to come to terms with this and let it go, but once I did… man, the world seemed to open up to me.

The first step and firm decision in the new light was that I needed closure before I quit – this meant one more winter of racing to prove to myself that I was doing this on my owns terms.

//

Thank you for dropping by. Feedback on my writing, post-format, and content would be gratefully received. This is still in its infancy and I hope it can grow, if not for others, then at least as a catalogue for some of my thoughts.

Next post tomorrow.

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