Thursday, March 29, 2007

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i'm back in uganda after almost two weeks in norway and sweden. it was definitely a worthwhile trip in terms of ski racing photography and maintaining my contact to the nordic ski world. i had more tourist time than last year's trip, too, so i got to see some good sights in oslo and stockholm. and i went for a ski! if i hadn't, this would be the first year completely off snow since my first ski in 1979. and i bet i would have started sooner [than age 5] if we hadn't lived in arizona. i skated the 16.7km loop at holmenkollen, having a hard time imagining racing it 3 times around. but having an easy time wishing that i were in shape so i could do that (race it for real) again.

i'm glad that i found ski racing and that i had enough sense to pursue it for real, because i think it is what i was meant to do. not everyone finds what they were meant to do. sometimes i would think that ultimate was the sport for me and there were times when that was true. i was really good at it, but sporadically. and i never lead a team to a championship. which is a good thing to do if you're a really good player in a team sport. i had a great tournament at nationals my senior year of college and i owned alumni game for three or four years afterwards, but yeah, glory days. once in high school i was banging golf balls around in the field behind the school. walking back to kris's house i pointed at the 8-inch diameter trash can hanging on the chain-link fence around the tennis courts. it was about 50 yards away and i said "trash can." i dropped the ball on the ground, and dropped a 9-iron into the bottom of the trash can. but that doesn't make me a great golfer.

so anyway, skiing. the lifestyle suits me. i'm very good at relaxing and doing nothing, which can be a huge benefit for nordic ski training. and as long as i had a coach telling me what to do, my work ethic was impeccable. there are a lot of stories of type a athletes overdoing it, not resting enough, getting sick and not backing down. there are also stories of lazy athletes who never worked hard enough to get there. but i think most of the top tier xc ski athletes i've met are people that are able to turn it on in training and turn it off at all other times. people who's energy does not make you nervous to be around them.

skiing is solitary and i'm all about self-reliance. no, really, i am. but you need a big support staff to be successful and you need to communicate well with them. and i'm definitely social enough to work well with others. that said, i really like knowing that out on the road or the trails or on the race course, it's all about me. team sports have their pluses. to sacrifice together and succeed together, that's a tough feeling to top. but i don't know, because i never won a championship. i was 6 points and 3 points away in the two games i was involved in. so it kinda felt more like sacrifice than success. not that that's a bad thing. i never won a ski championship either, but there were a number of times that i finished a race with nothing left and knew i had done my best that day. and not once had the long trail runs through the forests in northern MN felt like sacrifice. team sports are so win/lose, and even if you win you can feel like crap because you didn't play well.

but skiing, that's the sport for me. and i'm lucky, because unlike ultimate, i'll get to do it til the day i die. the mimeographed sheet that coach horak passed around on the first day of high school practice in november always said "cross country skiing is a life long sport."

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