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Wild Rumpus Sports
 

Patience: Day by Day

Sometimes things don’t go according to plan. I learned this fall that sometimes the best approach is to take things day by day. I was also reminded how fortunate I am for my family, friends, and teammates. In short, this fall was turbulent and early season was wild…but first I will rewind to the end of the summer.

Summer

Just as I got cleared at the end of July to start using my elbow again, my IT bands got flared up, sidelining me from lower body training. They always say injuries come in pairs, and it is likely no coincidence that my legs flared up after using my legs more while rehabbing from elbow surgery. Although I thought I was being smart in training, sometimes it is hard to foresee these injuries ahead of time until it is too late. Lesson learned…

After enough rest, I was able to rollerski and shortly after that I was headed “down under” to winter in New Zealand for a U.S. Ski Team camp, finishing my final exams on the road. With New Zealand’s amazing skiing, not being able to run was no issue. This year, it was only my teammate Jessie Diggins and our U.S. Ski Team coach Jason Cork at camp. It was a small crew, but we had a lot of fun training together, getting focused, quality time on snow, and enjoying all the beautiful things New Zealand has to offer. I was able to log my biggest block of training yet, which included skiing at least 600km (I added up my watch data), 3 races, and a lot of tired laughs in the end! I was really psyched to get in a consistent block of training, especially after a restricted summer of training with my elbow rehab and IT band issues.

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Stoked to be in New Zealand with this small crew!
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Can’t dream of more perfect conditions for our camp.

Fall

I returned back to Dartmouth really motivated and excited to begin fall term (and my senior year!), hopeful that after 6 weeks of no running I would be okay to ease back into running. Unfortunately nothing had changed and running was still off the table. I also caught the back to school sickness, but never seemed to fully feel 100% for 8 weeks, oscillating between taking multiple off days in a row and trying to do intervals and feeling good despite feeling sick doing any other training.  5 days before heading over the Europe for the season, I finally decided to take antibiotics (which I am usually opposed to taking), and my 8 weeks of sickness finally came to an end right as I hopped on the plane for Norway.

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Can’t complain too much about replacing running workouts with fun mountain biking. 

Amidst of illness, injury, and other school/life stresses this fall, I found myself only able to take things day by day, quite literally. I won’t sugar coat it and admit that this fall I was unhappy, frustrated, and lacking purpose. I realized I had lost sight of the things that are important to me and I was unable to engage in the things that normally bring me happiness. After two of my close friends both went through really tough life events, I was reminded of what I am thankful for and it shifted my perspective on how I wanted to approach things going forward.  I was very thankful to be surrounded by caring teammates and friends who supported me and they were also the best training buddies ever.

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Rollerskiing to my house for dinner with the Dartmouth team!
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One last/first fun ski on snow with my Dartmouth teammates before heading over to Europe.
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SMS T2 team send off, so thankful for this team our community who supports us.

Winter

I recognized that heading over to Europe, finally back to full health was the perfect opportunity to have the hard reset I needed. I stepped on to the plane to Europe, prepared to be on the road and live out of my suitcase for 4.5 months straight, but unsure where I stood and how the season would go after one of my most rough fall periods of training. The one thing I knew for sure was that the training season had tested my patience, and that I needed to have a lot of patience early on in the season. I approached the first period of racing as a training block, using every race to build my fitness as I worked into the season. I also used the first few weeks on the road to engage with the things that are important to me and bring me happiness, cherishing the seizing the incredible opportunities every day has to offer.

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Team painting night!
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We didn’t qualify for the heats in Ruka so Hailey and I decided to cheer on our teammates and learn by watching (PC: Matt Whitcomb).

Little did I know, “working into the season” included my first ever World Cup podium and best distance result yet! If anyone would have told me I would podium this season in a World Cup, let alone in the first period, I would have called them crazy. This is not to say I don’t believe in myself, but given how poorly my training went this fall and how much of a mess I was mentally, it is something I wouldn’t have been unable to imagine at the time.

FIS world cup cross-country, individual sprint, Planica (SLO)
Thinking to myself, what just happened?! (PC: Nordic Focus)

So how did I get there? My good friends called patience, belief, happiness and teamwork. I trusted the plan my coach Pat and I came up with and continued to take things day by day. I approached every training session and race with purpose—as an opportunity to practice, gain experience, and learn from my teammates. I took away the things that went well and identified the things I wanted to continue to work on. I sought out feedback from our staff  and continually worked with my wax tech to dial in a testing process. Some days, I went for a soul ski with my teammate Hailey, trekking through knee-deep powder without any real plan, and some days I followed my speedy teammates during intervals and speeds, reviewing video footage after. After a disappointing race in Lillehammer, I adjusted my plan and continued to believe in what I was doing. Most importantly, I found my happiness again and remembered to keep things fun, goofy, and spontaneous. Thanks to my teammates, that was quite easy to do 🙂

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Trekking through deep powder with Hailey in Norway ❤
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Moonlight sledding with Hailey in Switzerland!
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Soul skis with Sophie 🙂 
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A big thank you to my wax tech Eli for all his hard work! 

In Planica, I somehow found myself having an absolute blast (likely having more fun than anyone else out there) while skiing through a cold, torrential down pouring rain storm on a narrow icy strip of snow, intermixed with a lightning and thunderstorms. Maybe I seemed a bit crazy for finding the weather really amusing, but any day I get to whip out my rain suit and embrace New England weather and conditions similar to the Weston Ski Track (where I grew up skiing), it is a good day and an advantage for me. Before I knew it, I was standing at the start of my first ever A final on the World Cup, both excited and very nervous to be lined up against some of the best sprinters in the world. I was so nervous that I couldn’t even go hard the first half of the race since my stomach was in knots from the nerves. Coming up the last hill, I was able to kick it into gear and pass one skier, then another skier crashed right in front of me, and before I knew it, I was sprinting to the finish against my teammate and role model Sophie Caldwell for 3rd place, throwing in the fastest finishing kick of my life and lunging to my first ever World Cup podium. One lesson I took away from this race is never give it, I was off the back in 6th coming into the last hill and was able to ski to 3rd.

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Digging really deep the last 100m (PC: Nordic Focus)
FIS world cup cross-country, individual sprint, Planica (SLO)
Wow (PC: Nordic Focus)
FIS world cup cross-country, team sprint, Planica (SLO)
Rain, snow, thunder, lighting, Planica had it all. (PC: Nordic Focus)

 

Both the Davos and Planica weekend reminded me of the power of belief. I lacked belief in my distance race in Davos until Charlotte Kalla (also one of my ski idols growing up) caught me and I stuck on her like glue for 7.5km, showing to myself it is possible to ski that pace. In Planica, I skied with the intention to move onto the semi final and final, instead of my previous approach of just trying to hang on and ski my best. I took away a new sense of confidence and belief from Planica and plan to carry that with me into the races going forward.

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Following and learning from Kalla (PC: Sandro Anderes).

After a short 3 day Christmas break with my family, I headed to my first Tour de Ski, but unfortunately woke up sick on the first race day and had to drop out after racing through a cold the first two stages. I got healthy in time for the Dresden city sprints this past weekend and had a blast racing in some wild, action packed races included lots of crashes and broken poles. The World Cup continues with a double distance weekend in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic this weekend and I am excited to see what distance racing and classic racing has in store (especially after not 8 skate races in a row)!

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Christmas with the family ❤
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Sister adventures in beautiful Italy!
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The best fans I could ever ask for in Lenzerheide! 
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My grandma came out to cheer me on and watch me race for the first time ever! 
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Can’t complain too much about getting sick, it meant more family time and easy skiing with them 🙂 
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So psyched to have my parents follow along my wild race schedule for a few weeks ❤
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3rd year in a row having my grandparents at the Dresden World Cup and 2nd year in row for my parents, I am one lucky person 🙂 
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Dream team! I got to do two team sprints with my buddy (PC: Anna Terry).

Thanks for following along and for all the support along the way!

-JKern

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…

Whirlwind: Ups, Downs, Expectations

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The Pre-Season Mix

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What My Teammates Have Taught Me

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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

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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