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Whirlwind: Ups, Downs, Expectations

Every year the start of a new season marks uncertainty, excitement, goals, and lots of race opportunities. Expectations are loosely there, but it is not until you are a few races in that you can gage exactly what expectations are appropriate and the races start to matter. There is general race plan in place, but as the season goes along, things can change last minute and it all becomes a whirlwind as I hop from one location to next, finding myself in a new bed every week. It can be scary setting goals, unsure whether you will succeed or fail, and how you feel at certain points in the season. Since the CSU summer training camp I went to when I was 14, I have made a goal pyramid every year before the season. The process and smaller goals are at the bottom to build the foundation for the result and outcome goals that are on top. Over the past two years I have learned that I need to set big goals, some that are attainable but also some that are a bit of a reach; I need to be working towards something that challenges me, drives me, and pushes me to be better. Ironically, not having concrete goals scares me way more than failure.

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One of my big reach goals was being names to the World Championship Team and I beyond excited to have been named to the team because it was something I wasn’t sure would be possible this season, but I just wanted to at least throw it out there and aim high!

I have gotten to race a lot so far this season, and many of those races I have had high expectations for myself after feeling really good in the early season races. Some people say that expectations are bad, but I see them more as a sign of confidence in yourself and what you are capable of. Of course, expectations come along with things that can get in the way of your performance such as nerves and pressure, but I have learned to channel those feelings towards excitement.

I had a wide range from small to big goals for this season such as:

Process goals:

  • Ownership in my training plan
  • Health: adequate sleep, nutrition, hydration
  • Build in race efforts during training season (triathlons, rollerski time trials)
  • Make time to do things that make me happy and are fun besides skiing

Outcome goals:

  • Senior Nationals Podium Sprint and Distance
  • Top 6 at U23’s
  • Senior World Championships Team

I always set process goals that I think I can achieve because they are the things I have highlighted as the building blocks to my success. My outcome goals on the other hand, are both a mix or attainable and reach goals.

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Process/outcome goal: Win the early season SuperTour sprints in West Yellowstone and Silver Star and have good general race feelings.
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Battling it out for the win in Silver Star!
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Made a stop at Keystone, CO to visit Max and have a fun little break from cross country racing. I  traded in my skinny skis for some downhill skis, chasing this guy down the mountain 🙂 
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Battling it out with Hannah for the National Title. (PC: Reese Brown)
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My first ever National Title! Thanks to everyone who has supported me and helped this dream come true! (PC: Reese Brown)

Along with these goals and expectations, comes both ups with success and downs with failure and frustration. I have experienced many more highs than lows this season which is something I have never experienced before and it has made racing extremely fun! I kicked off the season feeling really good and putting down my best races I have ever had in the early season. After getting over a cold during the holidays, I came back racing well at U.S. Nationals, also having my best results I’ve ever had at U.S. Nationals. The whirlwind continued by hopping on a flight to Europe the day after nationals, where I jumped into my first World Cup of the season and placed 19th in sprint in Dresden, Germany (my best World Cup result) and the following day I teamed up with my teammate/friend/role model Sophie in my first ever team sprint, just missing the podium by a literal hair! To top it off, my family (parents, grandparents, aunt and uncle) were there cheering me on. One week later followed another high of being named to the World Championship Team for the first time (a reach goal for me this year) while at the same time hitting a low by placing 27th in the sprint at U23s World Championships (one of my most important races of the season to me) in the same day.

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My Oma cheering me on with a bell as I am racing my qualifier in front of the beautiful old city of Dresden…a truly special experience! 
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Getting in quality family time after the sprint ❤ 
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Rocking the relay socks and mixing it up with some speedy skiers in the team sprint!
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Best team sprint partner I could ask for!
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Hugging it out after an incredible first team sprint for this duo 🙂 
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Photo finish with Sophie on the far end, battling it out for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th by centimeters!
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Super happy to have had my parents there to come support me and cheer me on at “home” in Germany ❤ 
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Sometimes you have to take a minute to be disappointed, but with the help of hugs from teammates like Hailey, it is easier to pick your head up and get psyched for the next race. 

What has changed for me this year is that instead of being brought down by the lows, I have figured out a way to channel my frustration and disappointment as motivation to race again and get a chance to show what I am capable. I am writing this blog right now cooped up in hotel room for 8 days straight without skiing or training…there is nothing like not being able to do what you love to get you really fired up to ski and race again! After coming down with a brutal stomach bug at the end of U23s followed by a nasty cold right after, I am climbing my way out of this low and have a new appreciation for being healthy and happy!

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After a disappointing sprint, I got fired up for the 10km skate at U23s and placed 12th!
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Alayna, Hailey and I getting fired up for the 15km classic mass start!
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Hanging tough the last 11km after puking from the 4km point on…I guess it was the start of the stomach bug I came down with two days later. (PC: Doug Stephen)

What is next? I am on my way back to Lahti, Finland (where U23s was) for a World Cup and I am crossing my fingers I will be fully healthy in time for the races. I travel on to Cogne, Italy the following week for another World Cup before heading to Seefeld, Austria for World Championships. There is a lot of exciting racing ahead and I am looking forward to getting fully healthy and taking all of this restless energy from lying in bed and channeling into the racing to come! Here are a few more photos of some of the incredible highs of this season so far!

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Enjoying magical Silver Star with Alayna.
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Back together with Hailey, Hannah and Katharine for the first time since our Bronze medal at World Juniors 2 years ago 🙂 
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I stopped at home in Boston to give a ski clinic and presentation to my local ski clubs growing up.
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I am excited to watch the next generation of skiers from home!
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Family ski to kick off the holidays after the eastern cup weekend. 
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My first time ice skating on Lake Morey and it was absolutely perfect. 
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Family ice skating.
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Although we missed Christmas in Germany this year, we still kept all the German traditions ❤
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What is the best thing to do when you are getting over a cold? Go ice skating and do fun sprints with your mom! 
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Fun racing at Nationals with the best support crew (PC: Reese Brown)
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My mom, the loudest person cheering on course, and also spot on with her hand timed splits! (PC: Reese Brown)
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Evening exploration jog with Ida and Sophie in Dresden!
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Engaging our brains with some bananagrams.
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The GOLDEN boys in the relay at World Juniors!!!!!!!
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Proud to be a part of this incredible team at U20/U23 Championships, the future is bright! 

And the whirlwind continues, thanks for following!

-JKern

 

The Pre-Season Mix

Everyone from New England knows that the weather in last few weeks leading up to the racing season is as unpredictable as it gets. One day you might be wearing a tank top and shorts, and the next you are bundled in your mid-winter ski outfit. This year the weather gods decided us New Englanders had gotten soft so they wanted to ensure us New Englanders are tough come the race season. I am not exaggerating when I say that I didn’t see the sun for 3 weeks straight. On top of that, many of those cloudy days included freezing, cold rain. Oddly enough, with one rainy day after the next, it started to be just another normal day in the east and each rainy day felt less dreary than the last. Maybe part of my reaction was due to the fact that I was at Dartmouth this fall, and…

What My Teammates Have Taught Me

Upon returning from our last U.S. Ski Team camp of the year in Park City, Utah back to Dartmouth to finish up fall term, I have been thinking a lot about how I am extremely fortunate to be surrounded by incredible teammates wherever I go. Each team and individual teammate has taught me something different, and I know I wouldn’t be nearly as fast or have nearly as much fun without them! For starters, I am very appreciative that each of my teams support me to pursue both my skiing and academic pursuits.  The past few years I have been hopping between the Dartmouth, SMS T2, and the U.S. Ski Team and the amount I spend with each team has changed every year. My teammates on all three teams have been extremely supportive and understanding as I phase in and out (for example leaving Dartmouth for a U.S. Ski Team…

Walking The Fine Line

Since high school, I have been bouncing back and forth between doing a full term at Dartmouth while training, and solely focusing on skiing. These two lifestyles fall on opposite side of the spectrum—when I am in school I am wishing I had more free time and while when I am just skiing, I have too much free time to fill. My frustrating season last year didn’t discourage me, it actually did the exact opposite—it made me want to be “all in” this year and set really big goals. Ironically, I came to conclusion that being “all in” for me meant not just focusing on skiing, but rather, it meant the opposite—that I would go to school and train with the Dartmouth team while taking a full course load in the spring, summer, and fall (a full year of school). Focused and “all in” at training camp (Pat). Growing up,…

Finishing Strong

If your parents were anything like mine, then you were probably tossed into the deep end and had to learn how to swim from there. You could say that is what it felt like to jump on the World Cup circuit for the first time, spend 4 straight months in Europe (which is my longest streak yet), and travel across 10 different countries. I am going to admit, the first few weekends on the World Cup were really tough. I had some expectations and goals based off the end of last season, but I fell short of what I had hoped for—not just in results—but in my general form as well (unfortunately in part due to being injured the 5 months leading up to the season). Fortunately, just like your parents are there to help you learn how to swim, I was surrounded by teammates, coaches, family, and friends, who…

Blank Slate

Once again, my bags have been packed and unpacked too many times to count since my last post. After Zwiesel, I headed to Obsertdorf for a German Cup with Hannah, which was our last stop on our Germany tour. After taking 3 full off days in hopes of kicking my illness for good (but really this time), I had my head up and eyes looking forward. I was ready to put my illnesses behind me and just go out and race hard. The sprint day was shock to the system and gave my body the wake up call it needed to get back in gear and fired up again. I put my “Darth Vader mask” on at the start of the 10k skate mass start, told myself it is a new day and put my sensations from the sprint behind me, and was ready to charge (I mostly wore it…

Turning Things Around

*Sorry for the long hiatus mid season, my computer was broken all of January, and it is hard to get a new one when you are in Europe all winter. I am going to be brutally honest and say that the past 7 weeks have been really hard for me. I usually try to see the positive side of things and can deal with setbacks pretty well, but that gets really tiring after a while. 5 days ago I was ready to book a ticket home—that is when things turned around (once again)… Rewind 7 weeks ago. I kicked off the New Year by coming down with a bad cold, leaving me lying in bed for 7 days and not even training for 10 days. I was bummed to miss some OPA Cup races, but kept my mind focused on resting a lot so I would be ready for my…

Little Fish, Big Pond

A little fish in a big pond—that is what it felt like when I jumped into Period 1 of the World Cup, which arguably are some of the most competitive World Cups all year. They don’t call us youngsters the “little gupps” for nothing! I took the big leap to the next level and right … More Little Fish, Big Pond

Little Fish, Big Pond

A little fish in a big pond—that is what it felt like when I jumped into Period 1 of the World Cup, which arguably are some of the most competitive World Cups all year. They don’t call us youngsters the “little gupps” for nothing! I took the big leap to the next level and right off the bat, I was blown away by how fast the skiers on the World Cup are. I immediately had expectations and set result goals even though I was told these races were for gaining experience and learning. It wasn’t until someone reminded me that my teammates who have been crushing it this season, were in the same place as I am now a few years ago. Normally, people don’t jump in and start winning right away, it takes racing and experience over time to gradually work your way to the top. So what was…

Personal Wins

*Sorry for the long break in between blogs, it has been a busy fall…but that is no real excuse. This is a blog I have wanted to post for a while, and now more than ever, is it a good reminder to myself. Winning isn’t necessarily about crossing the line first. You can cross the … More Personal Wins