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Wild Rumpus Sports

5,000 Push-Ups

About this time last year I was lying face down on the shag carpet of the upstairs hallway in our West Yellowstone rental having been knocked out by an aggressive fever-inducing head cold. Below me I could hear the chatter of my teammates and family preparing a Thanksgiving Feast/birthday dinner to celebrate the holiday and my 26th year of life. Although I couldn’t smell a thing, I imagined the aromas of turkey and apple pie wafting up the staircase while I blew my nose into a nearby tissue. I was incredibly grateful that, despite my inability to contribute anything productive to the celebratory dinner, my family and teammates made a drool-worthy feast complete with pie AND birthday cake and I was surrounded by some of my most favorite humans. Plus my elbow was nearly healed and I knew good things were in store for the next year.

Enjoying West Yellowstone this year with a few of my favorites, Natalie and Anya!

This year things feel a bit different.

One, I am healthy! I am incredibly thankful for strong bones and clear lungs and to know that when I hit the start line this winter I am more prepared than I have ever been.

Two, I’m a lot stronger. Although progress is sometimes hard to measure in skiing and often feels like two steps forward one step back, I know I am stronger. Strength was one of my biggest goals for this season and, with the help of John at Altitude Athletics in Bozeman and some dedicated time in the gym, my arms look a little less like twigs this year.

Three, I have (almost) 5,000 push-ups in my future.

This year, in lieu of the Annual SMS Ski-A-Thon, I embarked on a one month fundraising adventure to generate $5,000 for the 2016/17 season in exchange for 5,000 push-ups. Thanks to a handful of generous donors I am more than halfway to my fundraising goal (and already calculating exactly how many push-ups I will need to do each day in order to complete the challenge). It’s my version of The November Project and works to accomplish the twin goals of funding and fitness. Funds raised through the November Project help me bring my best self to the start line every weekend rather than spending extra energy trying to figure out how to pay for it.

In addition to making me do push-ups until my arms fall off, every donor who contributes during the month of November will also be featured on my race hat at some point during the season! The community that supports me day in and day out are the real MVPs and I want to recognize each of you for the contribution you have made to helping me get closer to my ski racing goals! Plus, every donor is entered to win an Erika Flowers custom buff, Toko drinkbelt, or Rudy Project sunglasses. Click HERE to donate before December 1st or check out the November Project tab on my personal blogsite to learn more.

Sun run with Natalie above the not so snowy Bozeman

So at the top of my Thanksgiving list this year are the many people who have supported me along the way, whether through a kind word, note of support, loud cheer on the trail or donation to one of the annual fundraiser events. I’m also incredibly grateful for the many families (my own included-thanks Dad and Melissa, Jeanne and Greg!) and individuals who have shared their time, talents, houses and incredible cooking with our team to make life on the road feel a little bit more like home. You make this pursuit of sport at the highest level possible and your belief in the dream gets us that much closer to it every single day! Thanks for following along!

Thankful for trails and places like this

And sponsors who send the cutest good luck packages for winter! Thanks Skida!

The Fall Freight Train

   (Matt Whitcomb photo) And then it was November. Fall for a skier seems to speed by like a freight train, barreling its way towards the start of the season and mocking the longer, slow days of summer left handily in the distance. Short, fast intervals largely replace the lengthy distance sessions of July and August and the gym looks like a field of bunnies, athletes literally hopping through workouts to build explosiveness and quickness. Fall came and went and in the last eight weeks I wrote exactly zero blogs. So what did you miss? A quick re-cap of all the things that got me to November… Erika embraces all things pumpkin spice Erika goes to NYC Erika makes a magazine for women! Erika skis on snow Erika becomes a strength coach Erika can’t breathe Erika makes gains Erika gets published Erika says yes to the dress Erika returns to…

Bonking the Noggin’

Mind-blowingly beautiful About halfway through a set of thrusters in the gym last week, I bonked myself on the noggin. Somewhere between a deep squat and an explosive overhead press, my head got in the way of the bar. I managed to throw the full strength of my body plus about 75 pounds of moving deadweight squarely into the bottom of my chin. After the initial shock of slamming a bar into my face wore off and the subsequent tears had subsided, I shuffled back to the bar to the finish the set. This time, I spent an extra few seconds double checking my form. I focused on tightening my core, placing my feet squarely below my shoulders, taking an extra step back from the squat rack and breathing deeply before launching into a series of squat thrust combos. Ten minutes later I had completed my sets and moved on…

On Trying

If you’ve ever watched my teammate Jessie Diggins race, then you know that she has this incredible ability to push herself to her absolute limit, ride the line of pain and maximal physical exertion and then just blow right by it. She finishes nearly every race with nothing left to give, leaving every ounce of energy, strength and sweat on the race course. I’ve always admired this about her and fantasized about what it would be like to race like that. It’s not that I don’t push myself or suffer my own version of pain during races, but I rarely come face to face with that line of absolute effort where the body has two choices: move forward faster or fall down trying. Testing blood lactates during a hard interval session Although updates to my blog haven’t changed much in the last month (whoops!) my relationship with pain has. It…

The Sweat Life

Sweaty, salty and sweet. Also shoutout to Salomon for making summer training clothes all in my favorite color 🙂 While our U.S. teammates headed north to Alaska, the rest of the SMS crew stayed in Stratton just in time to welcome mid-summer heat and a whole lot of humidity. After the cool nights and mid-70 degree dry days of June, we started to wonder if summer in the East might actually be the new West. We were wrong. But there is something strangely satisfying about suffering through the sticky days of July. You finish workouts drenched in salt and sweat, party disgusted and partly proud of the fact that your shirt is now a complete shade darker than when you started. Annie embracing the sweaty gym sessions (Reese Brown photo) Despite the heat, or maybe because of it, we’ve had some great sessions here working through big volume training. Here’s…

Days of the Week: A Definitive Ranking

And on Sundays…we adventure run! Unconfined by the traditional Monday-Friday, 9-5 grind, the “workweek” takes on a whole new meaning for skiers. A regular training schedule offers a certain flexibility and freedom many office dwellers envy. However, we are never “not working.” Unlike a more traditional occupation, where work stops at the door, nearly everything we do is a part of our job from the actual training to sleeping and even eating. Fridays mark the beginning of a mini training block rather than the end of a week and Mondays bring a welcome day of rest. Sundays and Mondays become the best fishing days By the end of June in Stratton, the entire team is in full-on training mode. The line between weekends and weekdays blur and training “blocks” define our “workweek.” The days of the week take on different personalities and Friday no longer reigns as the crowd favorite….

Spring Cleaning

Spring marks the official start of the new training year. Like old shoes, we throw out the worn down muscles and memories of seasons past and start anew with fresh bodies and minds. The month of May offers a clean slate etched with bigger and better goals and a plan to try and reach them. My spring cleaning this year included some much needed rest and active recovery both in Montana and at the beach with Andy along with some exciting new changes to training. 1. Making Muscles Excited to be trying a slightly different type of muscle making this year Making muscles has never come easily to me and after a few years of marginal results I decided to make some changes. Although strength has been one of my big goals for the past two years, I have a lot of room to grow (literally) and decided that I…

Top 12 List: A Retrospective

2016…that’s a wrap (Reese Brown photo) Three years ago, I made it my goal to qualify for the Canadian World Cup Tour in 2016. I followed the goal planning process shared by ski mentors and champions before me and took to heart the advice that “you can do anything you set your mind to.” That’s how goals work right? You set big ones, make a plan to achieve them, tick off all of the training and racing boxes and three years later you bask in the glory of representing the U.S. in your first World Cup races. Turns out ski racing is a little more complicated than that. Unexpected injuries or setbacks, changes in training or coaching, experiments that don’t work out as planned, not to mention the social and emotional side of racing can interfere with the straightforward goal planning and execution. Even a perfectly laid out plan may…

6 Hacks to OPA Cup Racing

  Toblach, Italy also known as one of the most photogenic places in the world With momentum on my side following a string of strong domestic results and 3 years of OPA experience under my belt, I traveled to Europe this year ready for BIG things. Although I missed my goal of qualifying for the Canadian World Cups this year, I was excited for the opportunity to race in Europe and intended to make the most of it. I envisioned myself posting personal best finishes, breaking into the top 5 and maybe even fighting for a podium spot at OPA Cup Finals. Excited and ready to race in Italy and Germany for OPA Cup Finals (Julia Kern photo) Well, not to spoil things, but none of that happened. In two weeks of OPA cup racing, I broke the top 20 exactly twice. On one occasion I finished within 4 seconds…

The Great American Ski Race

In the northwest corner of cheese country, surrounded by the land of lakes and hot dish, sits the home of America’s greatest cross-contry ski race…the American Birkebeiner. Start of the American Birkebeiner (Tom Kelly photo-USSA) I’m number 525! One of the many packs of skiers taking on 51km in the middle of Wisconsin (American Birkebeiner photo) I’m a Birkie newbie. I had heard a lot about the infamous race, an event that even boasts its own full-length soundtrack CD. However the race itself is only one part of the Birkie, a week that includes ski expos, the Barkebirkie (dog skijoring), a Giants Race (6 people, 2 pairs of giant wooden skis), the Elite Sprints, a number of modified ski marathons of nearly every distance, and the Barnebirkie (children’s race)-also known as the cutest ski race of all time. That doesn’t even include the numerous un-scheduled events such as pizza at…