This weekend I had my first taste of World Cup action in Lahti, Finland. Unfortunately, I wasn't at the level I wanted to be. The results haven't been there for much of this year, but the best thing I can do is step and learn. So...
1. A start is a start. Regardless of the result, anytime I get the opportunity to compete against a word class field is more experience in the bank for the next time.
2. I’m healthy. That’s always a great thing, and too often I underappreciate the beauty of good health.
3. Experiencing the excitement at World Cup. In some ways, World Cups are just another competition, but the vibe from the crowd, competitors and TV cameras bump up the energy in the atmosphere to another level.
4. I can hang. In my first world cup start, a team sprint, I was skiing most of the laps with Armin Bauer, an Italian who had the 3rd fastest time the day before. I hung with him for all but the last two legs, and still stayed within 5 or so seconds a lap.
5. An observation that I made while watching races: yes, the fastest skiers looked like the fittest, but they were also the gutsiest. In the individual Nordic Combined race on Saturday, no man was gunning to ski fast than Taylor Fletcher, who was the 2nd fastest skier (.5 seconds behind first) and the fastest on Sunday. And while watching the girl’s 10km classic race, Therese Johaug of Norway (2nd overall in world rankings), was absolutely in the red zone halfway into the race. She’s got the fitness to keep up her technique at this rate, but up close, I could also see desire as a defining factor.
6. Learning from the best. It was awesome to spend the weekend with Bill Demong, Bryan Fletcher and Taylor Fletcher. I train with them for most of the year at home, but it was much more valuable to see and learn from the ways that they prepare for and execute in a World Cup.
7. The chance to do what I’m doing. In my surreal world of competition, it seems like everybody’s a world champion, Olympic medalist, or has a handful of World Cup podiums to his name. But if I take a step back, the reality is that just the chance to compete in a World Cup puts me among a pretty small group of highly fortunate individuals.
8. Glorious distance skis through the woods like I’ve had the last two days, which give me the time to relax and just be grateful.
9. The supporters that I have. Again, I’m just truly lucky. To have the support crew around me from my parents to extended family to NNF supporters and coaches, I’ve got quite the team around me.
10. And most of all, right now, I’m more motivated than ever to work towards my potential, and I truly believe that I can be just as good as any of the guys that seemed so much better than me last weekend.
Where am I?