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Wild Rumpus Sports
 

Going With The Flow

Anyone who knows me knows that I like having a plan going in. Whether it is a training plan, my day plan, or a route plan in mind, I like plans—they give me a sense of direction. Ironically, I don’t care that much about whether I stick to the plans I make, it is just about having one going in and then changing things on the fly and going with the flow .

Last time I posted, I was headed back to Lahti, Finland for a World Cup, which marked the halfway point of the season and also the part of the season that I didn’t have a solid plan in place. The remaining part of the season was totally up in the air, dependent on how the previous races had gone and each race to come. Everything that followed could change on a weekly, or even daily basis. This part of the season also marked my low point (after coming down with a nasty norovirus followed by a terrible cold at the end of a disappointing U23 World Championships), but little did I know, it was also the start of series of many unexpected races follow!

We arrived in Cogne, Italy, welcomed by sunshine, warm weather, delicious food, and an incredible atmosphere, which after being sick in dark, cold Finland for 3 weeks felt especially good! Cogne already had a happy place in my heart, bringing me out of low last season, and this year it did exactly the same. The Cogne sprint results would determine the last sprint start at World Champs. I was in a really good mental state, feeling happy, reenergized by good food and sunshine, and surrounded by an incredible atmosphere, so I told myself over and over, “today is the day I make the semifinals for the first time”. After watching a few of the other quarterfinals, I decided to lead the whole heat and ski confident like I did in Germany, and narrowly made it on to the semifinals for the first time, finishing 11that the end of the day, earning my sprint spot at World Champs that was only 4 days later!

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Talk about an incredible atmosphere!
FIS world cup cross-country, individual sprint, Cogne (ITA)
Sending it off the front and skiing aggressive.
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Moving onto the semis by a hair–when in doubt, always lunge!

This when the true whirlwind started and my plans were constantly changing, to the point where I was just rolling with whatever came at me. We headed straight over to Seefeld, Austria for World Champs, did race prep, and before I knew it, I was racing in my first ever Word Championships, placing 23rd. There was a start spot open in the 15km Skiathalon so I unexpectedly got to start that race and ended up finishing 19th. That result definitely took me by surprise, and I think everyone else as well, since I have always been classified as a “sprinter”.

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My teammates showing me how it is done during race prep!
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Sprinting to 23rd in the Skate Sprint in very hot temps! (PC: Reese Brown)
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Definitely the most fans I have ever raced in front of during the 15km Skiathalon!

The biggest surprise of all was being selected to be on the relay team. I LOVE relays and have always dreamt of representing our team in the relay, so I was very honored to be given the chance to lay it all out there with my teammates who have been my role models for a long time. I might have gotten too excited and really sent it on the first 2.5km and had one of the biggest blow-ups of my life in the last 1km. It was tough to lose time and not have the performance I wanted on such a big stage, especially since I wanted to prove to myself and to others that I was the right pick for that start spot. However, I gave it my all and left nothing on the trail and that is the most important thing at the end of the day.

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Relay socks, face paint, and send mode on for the relay! (PC: Reese Brown)
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Team hugs and laughs from my teammates to bring each other up after a disappointing relay. (PC: Reese Brown)
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Throwing snow on Jessie at the end of the relay after super warm conditions!

After World Champs, I fell back into my usual cycle of getting sick, getting my butt kicked (this time in Drammen, similar to everyone first experience racing in Drammen city sprint), hitting a low point, and then using my frustration to motivate me to reach a new high. In Falun, I narrowly missed qualifying in the sprint in probably the most competitive women’s sprint field of the season, but came back even more fired up the next day, earning my first ever distance World Cup points placing 25thin an individual 10km skate, which was a huge step forward for me. I guess I am not just a “sprinter” after all. This was confirmed by strong distance races in Quebec and at SuperTour Finals at the end of the season.

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Fighting hard through tough conditions on my way to earning my first World Cup distance points.
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Ending the season on a high note, finishing 3rd in the 30km skate at U.S. Distance Nationals. (PC: Reese Brown)

 

My season ended up consisting of 32 races, by far the most racing I have ever done in a season, and I can assure you that those additional experiences has taught me lot. When I left World Champs, I left wanting more, feeling a mix of emotions. At the start of the season, it was a reach or “dream” goal to even qualify for the team, and racing 3 races wasn’t even something I considered was possible. So why did I leave World Champs a little disappointed and wanting more when I achieved way more than I ever set out to? As cliché as it may sound, my biggest take away from the season was that enjoying the journey is the most important thing. You can have all the best race results, but if you don’t stop enjoy the journey along the way, just good race results alone won’t make you happy. My biggest regret this season was getting too focused on “the next thing”. Every race, I was so focused on earning the next start spot, and once the race was over, I was focused on the next race—I didn’t stop to celebrate the milestones, however small or big they were along the way. The moments I remember and value the most from this season are not necessarily the ones with my best results, but the times where I slowed down to appreciate the people and experiences around me.

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My family cheering me on Quebec ❤
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My grandparents (and good luck charm) came to cheer me on at World Championships and it meant to world to me to have them there!
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Any day my sister is around to watch me race, it is a special day ❤
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A surprise visit from Max in Quebec followed by a ski with both Max and Nadja!
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Cherishing quality goofy time with my friends on the road.

My other big take away season is that I am super grateful and thankful for the incredible ski community. None of this would be possible without my family, teammates, coaches, wax techs, support staff, and all of my supporters so THANK YOU!!!

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Thank you to my family, my nonstop #1 supporters who came to Quebec to cheer me on!
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Thank you to my SMS T2 Family!
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Thank you to our team and support staff at World Championships!
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Thank you to my incredible teammates I learn from each and every day! (PC: Reese Brown)

The end of the season left my racing mind and body exhausted, but the adventurous side of me was itching to go out and backcountry ski to switch things up and take a break from thinking about racing. The spring term at Dartmouth allowed me to get outside on lots of adventures with friends, refreshing my mind for the new season ahead. My body also got a good hard reset after having elbow surgery to fix an 2.5 year long nerve issue I had been dealing with. Ironically, my recovery from surgery has felt the easiest of injuries to deal with since I have spent the last 2 summers modifying my plan around elbow pain. I am taking classes again this summer at Dartmouth while training with the team as I rehab back from surgery. I have been able to squeeze in some weekend visits to Stratton to train with my SMS T2 teammates as well and I am looking forward to getting back into normal training in the next few weeks! I was very excited to make a big jump forward to the B Team this year and I am excited to see what this next season has in stock! Thank you for following along and your continued support!

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Spring adventures with friends!
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Skiing the spring classics at Mnt. Washington.
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Fixing up that elbow so I can get strong this year.
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A quick visit to San Francisco between school terms to visit my sister.
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Fun runs to catch up with my SMS T2 teammates.
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Yay for 2 poles again!

-JKern

 

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