Total 13 - BNdDRQn
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!
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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

 

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 regardless the weather, training was my study break so it is something I always looked forward to; it was always the best part of my day.

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It may have been dark and grey all fall, but we made up for the darkness with bright clothing on Halloween at Dartmouth! 

I think the peak dreary New England weather came for the NENSA Trapps rollerski race. We showed up and it was 32 degrees and pouring rain, with 50 mph wind gusts, and the rain was turning into sleet. In the coaches meting, the coaches and organizers decided to go ahead and hold the race, and it was one of the most brutal rollerskis I have ever done weather wise, but I finished feeling a little tougher and stronger for the race season two short weeks away. Most importantly, I finished with a huge smile across my face, which might sound crazy but to me, some of the most satisfying and motivating workouts are the ones where you just have to have some grit, dig deep, and see the tough conditions as a way to make you that much stronger.

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Charging through the tough conditions at the NENSA Trapps Rollerski Race (PC: Dave Prignac)
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Deep in the pain cave as the rain turned into snow (PC: Reese Brown).

After a bit of toughness training, the weather rewarded us with some incredible early season snow, making for some of the best skiing conditions in the country, if not in the world. During finals, I was extra determined to be productive so that I could take skiing study breaks!

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Perfect skiing at Crafstbury during finals!
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Great skiing at Greens with Max!

I decided the changes in weather weren’t crazy enough for me, so I headed out to San Diego to join my family for thanksgiving! The weather was 60-70 degrees and sunny everyday…you could say I soaked up all the sunshine I could get! Although it may be unusual to go on a beach vacation right before the season, it is exactly what I wanted to do before the racing season. Each person has their own way to prep for the race season and for me, that meant quality family time, sunshine and vitamin D, unwinding from finals, and having some fun (by going surfing and playing beach volleyball) and to relax before heading into the race season! The last two weeks before the season is usually stressful for most athletes, because you start to wonder, “have I done enough?”, “am I ready” , “I have worked so hard all year and now it is time to see how fast I am”.  Hanging out with my family and surfing and playing beach volleyball was the perfect way to clear my head and relax before heading back to winter conditions in West Yellowstone.

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Family time ❤
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Sister time ❤
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Dialing in my balance by doing some surfing! 
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Working on my explosivity and power.
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SUNSHINE!

I am now out in West Yellowstone, MT with our U.S. half of the SMS T2 Team for the first weekend of Super Tour races. After the toughness training this fall in the New England, we are ready to go! You can follow along with the live video coverage at https://usskiandsnowboard.org/events/supertour-1and live results at http://www.skirunbikemt.com/supertour.html.

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Alayna making the first tracks out here in West Yellowstone!
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Game/intimidation face on, or really just protecting my lungs…or both 🙂

Lets get this season started!!!

-JKern

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 camp and then coming back to Dartmouth).

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Really excited to be back with the Women’s U.S. Ski Team in Park City last week!

I have come to realize that I have learned an endless amount from my teammates and the list could go on forever, but here are some of the most important things I have learned (no particular order).

  1. Most important, always remember to have FUN!

Training with teammates is the best way to have fun, hands down! If you are not having fun, something needs to change.

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YAY for snow!
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Jessie introducing a new technique….?
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Carving some turns with Andy in New Zealand.
  1. You are stronger as a team, working together is the best way to get faster.

I have learned this and experienced this across all teams I have been on. When everyone gets together to train, they push each other, support each other, challenge each other, and raise everyone to the next level.

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Pushing each other in races.
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Learning how to lunge with the help of coaches, Kelsey (giving feedback from watching), and Ida! What a fun workout!
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Hannah and I went on 3 week trip alone in Germany, training and racing together! I couldn’t have done it without her.
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Practicing a tricky sprint corner…and learning what not to do.
  1. Learn by following.

Everyone skis a little differently, you can learn a lot by skiing behind someone else!

 

  1. Set BIG goals, work hard and believe in them…and anything is possible.
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Jessie’s and Kikkan’s Gold Medal has truly inspired me and taught me that anything is possible if you set your mind to it!
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2 years prior we talked about how crazy it would be to medal at World Juniors…and it happened.
  1. Teammates are there to support you and to be supported.

Whether it’s a needed hug, a sunset walk, a pillow talk, or a pump up dance party, your teammates are there for you and you should be there for them. Your celebrate the highs together and ride the lows together.

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Sunset walks ❤
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Teammates make great pillows!
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Sometimes you need a hug…and someone to hold you up when your are too tired to stand.
  1. You can use your position to have an impact beyond your racing career.

There are so many opportunities to inspire and create change. For example…
– Community outreach
– Inspiring the next generation of skiers (and non skiers)
– Having a voice about pressing issues (POW for example)
– Helping kids have access to the outdoors
– Growing confidence in young girls to pursue their passions
– And many more!

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This summer I became a Little Bellas ambassador and it has been so fun!
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Jessie advocating for Protect Our Winters (POW).
  1. Its okay to be your goofy self…actually its encouraged to be super goofy!
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Getting goofy with some fun Dartmouth traditions this fall.
  1. Skiers love being active in the outdoors, which makes for some pretty awesome adventure buddies.

Skiers share their love for snow, the mountains, and being active outdoors. You will never be short on buddies to go on long adventures with.

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Crust cruising in New Zealand!
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Summit photo.
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Mountain biking with Sophie!
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Adventuring in mountains.

So THANK YOU to all of my teammates, I am forever grateful to have you as my teammates and continue to learn new things every day 🙂

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SMS T2 Team
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Dartmouth Women’s Team
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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).

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Focused and “all in” at training camp (Pat).

Growing up, I always had a fast and busy lifestyle, running from school straight to practice, and then onto another practice or game, not getting home until 10pm when I would eat dinner and start my homework. In the fall I would be playing on 2 different basketball teams, 2 soccer teams and running on a cross-country team. In the winter I would be on 3 basketball teams, an indoor soccer team, an indoor track team, and a swim team.





Although the student-athlete lifestyle is hectic (and I probably complain about being busy way too much), being busy is how I am wired. When I was younger, I could not sit still; my grandpa used to secretly time me to see how long I could sit still because my family thought it was hilarious (I think it was something like 2 minutes). This year I wanted to channel a little bit of 9 year old me and get a little sendy with training while keeping myself busy and distracted with school.

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Getting out of my comfort zone in a speed session (Pat).
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..and also on my mountain bike, chasing after my boyfriend Max.
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I  helped out at a Little Bellas event (empowering young girls to get out and ride mountain bikes) and they rubbed off some of their young energy and enthusiasm!

I am REALLY excited to be healthy for once, training pretty much unrestricted! These past two training blocks have been the most fun I have had in training, not only because I am healthy enough to train, but also because I am pushing the limits on what my body can handle, instead of taking my usual conservative approach when I am dealing with injuries/ illnesses. The cherry on top is that I am surrounded by incredible teammates on both the SMS T2 team and Dartmouth team who want to work together to push each other, support one another, and battle it out through the tough days together.

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I skipped a few days of school to go to our U.S. Ski Team women’s camp and it was inspiring to train with so many fast women (PC: Matt).
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Learning from the best by following (PC: Matt).
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Our great training group this summer at Dartmouth!
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Digging deep in a team sprint simulation at camp (PC: Matt).
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And of course, always keeping things fun and goofy (PC: Matt)!

Training full time while being at school full time requires a lot of balance, something that is always a work in progress for me. I want to give 100% in everything I do, torn by when I cut a little slack in one direction and give slack in another direction. This summer I have found myself trying to walk the fine line between the “4 S’s”: skiing, school, social, and sleep. I am pushing the line on how much training I can handle, the minimum sleep I need, the amount of work I need to put into my schoolwork, and the time I want to have with my friends to feel happy and balanced. Although balancing everything is difficult and is far from perfect, I have had SO much fun training hard with my teammates, going on adventures with my friends, and learning a lot in my classes!

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I skied Tucks (Mountain Washington) for the first time this spring!
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And I ran Mount Washington this summer as part of our presidential traverse run!
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First ever sunrise hike/run and first time up Mossilauke…it was absolutely beautiful.  
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Goofing off on the slackfline with Jessie at training camp. 
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In my element 🙂 

-JKern

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 were there to support me and help show me the way.

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Learning from others and by making mistakes, thankfully only in race prep (PC: Reese Brown).
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Enjoying an evening walk through Lillehammer (PC: Jessie Diggins). 
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Watching Sadie and Jessie CRUSH in the sprint final in Lillehammer! 
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A stunningly beautiful walk and photo shoot with Jessie.
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Ya know, just the average daily scene with this team 😉 Getting our team dance on in front of our amazing new wax truck! (PC: Reese Brown)
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TEAM (PC: Reese Brown).
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A definite highlight was seeing my family over Christmas and especially my sister, she can always put a smile on my face 🙂

As most of you know, it was a historic year for the cross-country team not only at the Olympics, but on the World Cup as well. I am lucky enough to call these athletes and coaches my team; they support me, push me, impart wisdom on me, and inspire me everyday to be better. The best part is that even though they are doing extraordinary things, they are still ordinary human beings who I can go on a walk with or play card games with. Although I did not get quite the results I hoped for in some of my World Cup starts, I took away as much as I could from my experiences and was happy with my upward trend so that the next time around, I am skiing (swimming) a little better.

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Yup, that happened!
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And this! Hailey Swirbul, my good friend and teammate making history by getting a Silver and Bronze Medal at World Junior Championships!
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And also this! The junior boys got Silver in the Relay at World Junior Championships!
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Ida charging in the city sprint in Dresden, Germany!
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This was one of the most exciting World Cup atmospheres by far with large crowds! 
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On a gorgeous ski with Sadie Bjornsen in Slovenia as she gives me some advice from her experiences.
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Skiing with Sophie, Ida, and coach Matt in Austria on a perfect day!
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Okay just to make you feel a little better, and show you life is not always sunny and dandy on the road, here is this one. Yup, you can only see max 8 feet in front of you. We just don’t document these days that often.

 

The season did not end after my World Cups though, it continued on with an unfortunate continuous plague of illness/es for 8 weeks (but lets just skip that part and fast forward to the good stuff). By the time March came rolling around, I finally found the race fitness I had been searching for and that is where the true fun began! Ironically, racing is more fun when you can really push your body to the limits and go deep into the pain cave and hurt badly. Our U.S. domestic team arrived in Spain for OPA Cup Finals and I was more eager than ever to race. After having many disappointing moments during the season, any chance to race healthy and feel good was an opportunity to race the way I believed I could. I finished off my 4 months in Europe with my strongest OPA Cup results yet, with a 3rd place in the sprint, and a 5th place overall in the mini tour, with 2nd fastest time of day in the pursuit!

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3/6 women in our final in Spain were team USA…that was pretty cool.
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Getting aggressive in the sprint heats. 
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Girls squad, sunshine, and incredible skiing.
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Skiing with my best friends Hannah and Lauren on a perfect day in Spain!
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Charging through a blizzard with the 2nd fastest time to finish off OPA Finals in Spain (the days of sunshine made us a little soft at the end of Spain) (PC: Bryan Fish). 
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Happy with a 5th place overall at OPA Finals (PC: Bryan Fish)!

I carried this good momentum right into our Super Tour Finals/U.S. Nationals in Craftsbury only a few days later to wrap up the season. I was really happy with how my sprint, 10km, and relay leg went so decided to go out with a bang by racing my first ever 30km to finish off the season! To my surprise, I had SO much fun racing the 30km and had a really good race (with no bonking or blowing up). Although most of my season did not go as planned, I am happy that I got my “bad days” out of the way and was able to finish off the season strong with 7 good races in a row, each one better than the last! I think one of the advantages of finishing the season off strong is that it leaves me even more motivated for next year. However, ending the season with 7 races in 12 days has left me ready for some serious rest and recovery before the training for next year begins.

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Sprinting next to my idol and Olympic gold medalist Kikkan Randall (PC: Reese Brown)
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Game face on and in the pain cave for the club relay (PC: Reese Brown)!
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Jessie hugging me catching me at the finish of the 30km (PC: Reese Brown).
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Psyched to reunited with all my teammates (PC: Reese Brown)!
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So fun to ski with the next generation of skiers at Fast and Female.


Before rest….some skier cross racing. 

 


…and some spring skiing with my family on Easter.

You could call it a year of unpredicted adventures, a learning year, a wild rollercoaster ride—but most of all—a year that has left me wanting to race with the best more than ever! A huge thank you to everyone who has supported me, I couldn’t do it without you guys! Your belief, cheers, words of encouragement, and enthusiasm is what kept me going through the tough times this season and is why I love this sport and community so much, so thank you!

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Looking forward to next year (PC: Reese Brown)!

Now it is time to give the body a rest and work out my brain for a bit 🙂

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Looks like some boring homework, am I right? 

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 because it was cold…but also for the intimidation, game face factor of course). 2.5km into the race I found myself sliding and spinning on my hip down the fast downhill, which was the one thing I told myself I should avoid at all costs in a draft heavy mass start. The adrenaline rushed through my veins as I got back on my feet and I quickly hammered to catch up with the leaders. At this point, I was so fired up that I was just ready to charge away, but I played it smart and waited until the 9km mark before dropping the hammer and pulling away to grab the win. Hannah and I packed our bags once again and headed to Italy to meet up with the OPA Trip group from the U.S.

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It was fun to break up the “green sweep” and stand on top. Thank you to the Germans for letting us hop in their races and for waxing our skis!
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Incredible last ski in Germany with Hannah. That wrapped up our Germany tour.

Going into the OPA Cup races finally 100% healthy, I decided to put my mixed feelings in training and racing the past few months behind me, and approach the weekend with a blank slate. How I had felt the day before or raced 3 weeks ago didn’t matter, what mattered was how I could approach the upcoming races each day. My approach: go out hard, give it your all, and see how long you can sustain it—I have learned that if you want to ski for the podium, there is no going out slow and working your way into it. In both races I faded a little at the end, but I was very happy with skiing the courses aggressive from the start and really going for it, and finishing 9th and 10th. I saw that I can sustain that pace with a little more fitness, which is something that can be gained with training in the future.

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Pain cave in Italy (PC: Bryan Fish)
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Wowzers, an incredible last day of racing in Italy.
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The Italian chef.
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Skiing views ❤

And then the bags were packed again and we were on to the next stop, France. I was excited to explore a new country and get some rest and recovery after a few weekends of racing. I went on a some easy skis, learned a few French words, and ate delicious, fresh croissants. Before I knew it, we were in the van again and headed to our last stop, Spain (also a country I have never been to)!

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Annecy, France!
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Endless kilometers of skiing in France.
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Exploring a French city and channeling my touristy side.
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One of many game nights filled with laughs.
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Cheese on cheese.
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A quick stop on the Mediterranean sea during our 12 hour drive to Spain.

I am really excited for this last weekend of racing in Europe! I am healthy and happy, the skiing is incredible, and all 3 race formats are extremely exciting. We have a skate sprint, a 10m classic mass start (I haven’t done a single classic mass start in a year and they are my favorite), and to wrap up the mini tour, a 10km skate pursuit…so how can you not be excited to race with a schedule like that?! My goal for this weekend is to approach each race with a blank slate. I don’t want to make assumptions going into my race based on  how I felt in my warm up, how previous races have gone, the type of course I am racing, who my competitors are, or what result I should have; I want to lay it all out there and race as fast as I possibly can, and enjoy it most of all! Now it is time to turn the jets on and get fired up to finish off the season with some kick ass races the next two weeks!

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Skiing in España featuring Hannah and Lauren!

-JKern

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 next World Cup opportunity, the Dresden city sprint. Doing a World Cup city sprint has always been a dream of mine, but to do it in my “home” country Germany with my grandparents watching was a real dream come true. I was ready to rock and roll, gunning to qualify for heats, especially in a less deep World Cup field post Tour de Ski. Unfortunately, the fast and flat 2-minute sprint wasn’t quite what my body was ready for after being sick. It was a shock to the system, but I was ready to turn it around and attack the next weekend in Planica, Slovenia! My teammates however crushed it, with Sophie placing 3rd in the sprint and Ida and Sophie also 3rd in the team sprint!

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Sophie charging to a 3rd place in front of the scenic backdrop. 
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I made the newspaper in Germany! I was on my way out to hold spare poles for the team sprint where Sophie and Ida got 3rd! Coach Kern ready to go.

We spent a few days in Ramsau, Austria before heading to Planica. I was excited for interval day in Ramsau—I was eager to go hard again and put in some quality intervals, something I lacked the previous weeks. To my surprise my body felt terrible, and I had no idea why. I tried to shift my focus and just said to myself it was a bad day, it happens sometimes. As the days continued, I continued to sleep poorly, and felt more exhausted than ever, so I rested some more. Before I knew it, it was the day before the sprint in Planica and my HR was incredibly high, and I was longing for a good night of sleep. Regardless, I loved the sprint course and was psyched to race the next day. I got myself amped up and ready to go, woke up feeling a little better, and I put it all out there. I was excited to feel a lot better in the qualifier than I had expected, and to see that I has skied a pretty good qualifier, taking one step closer to qualifying for heats. Planica was an absolutely beautiful place and I was sad to leave the World Cup, but excited to head to Switzerland for U23 Championships and carry my forward momentum with me.

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Even though I wasn’t feeling great, Ramsau offered a gorgeous backdrop.
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Hello Slovenia, my first time there.
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Charging in the classic sprint (Photo: Toko) 
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Feeling small with Sadie on a distance ski. 

The first few days of skiing in Switzerland were incredible—the snow was amazing and I was feeling really good in training…just in time to get sick, again. I didn’t understand how my plan to stay in Europe to minimize travel and risk of sickness backfired, and I didn’t understand how I could get sick so soon after being healthy and not training much. I spent the days leading up to U23 Championships isolated in my room, frustrated, antsy, and hoping for a miracle.

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No double tracks….but TRIPLE tracks!
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Sunshine and smiles the first day.
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And then came the sick walks…
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Thankfully I have awesome friends who got me outside to build a snow tunnel when I was sick to cheer me up!

Come sprint day, I was still super sick but decided if there is one event you can “fake”, it is a sprint qualifier. I ended up qualifying, but I didn’t have enough energy in the heats to match the pace. I decided to sit out the 10km in hopes of getting healthy for the skiathalon. I really thought I could turn it around by skiathalon day, but come race day, I was still not 100% healthy. I talked with my coaches and decided to give it a shot, since you don’t know how you are going to feel unless you start the race. I gave it shot, but my body was still affected by my cold so I DNF (did not finish) the first race of my life. To be clear, this was not because I was frustrated or because things were not going how I had hoped, it was part of the plan—start the race and see if you feel good, and if not, don’t push your body into a deeper hole than it already is.

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Cornering in the sprint.

As much as DNF’ing was a really hard thing for me to do, I believe it was the smartest thing I could have done that day. Racing the first 5km of the race gave me the confidence boost that I needed. I was reminded that I can ski with those girls if I am feeling good, but I also saved my body from driving the cold deeper into my system. What was really exciting to see though, was how well our team did at World Juniors/U23s! My close friend Hailey placed 2nd and 3rd in the two distance races, making history and the junior men’s relay team bested our bronze medal in the relay last year by earning a hard fought silver medal! I was so exciting to see the whole team do well and have a historic week in Switzerland–the future is bright!

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Hailey with a SILVER MEDAL!
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Killer relay for the guys! 
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Thankfully I was surrounded by people who made me laugh during the tough times at U23s.

After U23’s, I headed to Germany with my teammate Hannah for a 3 week trip through Germany. We planned to stay over in Europe so that we could get more competitive racing in and minimize travel between Europe and the US. The first week in Germany I was focused on getting healthy and happy again. Between dealing with an elbow injury all summer and fall, and being sick 4 times this season so far, my mental strength to fight back and find the positive side of things had dwindled. Thankfully Hannah and I were greeted with great skiing in Germany, so it made it hard not to smile when you were skiing. And of course, Hannah is goofball and brings out my goofy side as well, so after a few days, I was back on the horse and more excited than ever to race.

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Showing Hannah my favorite city in Germany 🙂
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Oberwiesenthal treated us well!
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Just getting a little goofy 

And that is when I got sick again…For two days I was convinced it was my allergies, but in hindsight, it was the only way I could make sense of how I was feeling. There I was in Germany, racking my brain how I could have been healthy for 4 days before I got sick again, and where I went wrong. I was beyond frustrated (to the point of not caring anymore), and I said screw it, I have tried resting, training, racing, and nothing has worked so I might as well try the sprint. The night before the sprint my body felt worse than ever, my cheeks suddenly got red and I felt hot, and maybe I had a fever for an hour. That was when I was ready to book a ticket home and throw in the towel. I said to myself if I feel miserable tomorrow, I am going home.

And that is where things turned around once again (seeing a pattern here?). I woke up feeling a little better and decided to do the sprint. I felt surprisingly good in the qualifier, especially for a 4 minute long sprint course. I think I was just so excited to race and feel good that I sent it in my quarterfinal and we posted the fastest quarterfinal of the day. I made a tactical error in the semi final and may have burned a few too many matches in previous heat so I didn’t move on to the final. But that quarterfinal was the most fun I had racing in a very long time! I decided to race all 3 races this past weekend, because although I still was congested and was coughing, my body was able to push hard in the races and feel good. I was pleasantly surprised with my results given the roller-coaster ride the past few weeks and my first distance races in 9 weeks.

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Mass start at the OPA Cup in Arber.

I have now arrived at my next stop, Oberstdorf, Germany after taking two days completely off in hopes of getting 100% healthy before another 3 day weekend of racing in a few days. Although I do not know if I will have another setback, I do know I still have enough strength to “turn things around” because I really missed racing, and this weekend reminded me how fun it is and how much it is worth it if you can get through tougher times. I am looking forward to more racing to come, and more regular updates 🙂

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I got to spend a day with my grandma on my off day!

-JKern

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 it like in the big pond? Here are some of my favorite experiences, takeaways, and lessons learned.

  • Teamwork makes the dream work.
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Team cheer (PC: Reese Brown).
  • There is no 99%. Every tenth of a second counts.
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    Pain face = game face (PC: Reese Brown).

     

  • Learn as much as you can from your teammates, coaches, and from personal experiences. Mistakes are the best way to learn.
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    I sent it 100% on the downhill in training before the race and fell. Luckily I got my crash out of the way during training (PC: Reese Brown)!
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    Veteran Kikkan giving us her advice…and she ended up 3rd the next day! (PC: Reese Brown)

     

  • My teammates are quite speedy!
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Sadie and Jessie charging to 3rd and 6th in Lillehammer! 
  • Afternoon and evening walks/jogs are one of my favorite things to do on the road. You get to see the surrounding area, shake out the legs, and get some fresh air.
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Strolling down the main street in Lillehammer.
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I got caught in the middle of a Christmas Tree lighting parade!
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On a walk with Jessie on a beautiful sunny day in Davos!
  • Having a lot of snow in Europe is very nice (and also rare now a days). I got to go on some incredible long skis through a winter wonderland ❤
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Skiing with Ida on freshly groomed double track in Davos.
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Rock solid tracks in Austria with lots of sunshine and beautiful mountains.
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Following Sophie on our ski back from the venue that lead us right to our hotel door! 
  • Sunshine is limited in the winter, especially in Scandinavia…so you have to cherish every moment in the sun.
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Stopping to enjoy the sunrise/sunset in Lillehammer.
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Bluebird day in Davos ❤
  • It is not always serious on the road…it is mostly just fun and games really!
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Practicing our dance. Keep your eye out for the U.S. Ski Team video coming out soon! (PC: Reese Brown).
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Secret Santa poems and artwork brought on many smiles and laughs.
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Jam sessions are also frequent, especially with Walcrik/our wax techs on the road!
  • This is probably the nicest ice bath I will ever see!
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Can you even tell I am freezing?

I wrapped up the first period of racing with races in Austria at a Europa Cup. I finally felt like myself again and I was very happy with my races. It was nice to take a step down from the big pond and race in a scene that was a bit more comfortable in, especially with my family there to cheer me on! Now it is time for some rest and recovery, family time, and holiday celebrations in Germany!

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Climbing the last hill in the 5km classic race, featuring my family cheering on the side.
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Skiing the first tracks with my parents in Austria!

Happy Holidays!

-JKern

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 line in first, yet be very disappointed in your race…or you can finish last and feel like you won the race (yes, this happens). The more I got my butt handed to me in intervals and time trials this summer, the more my confidence could fade. Year after year I catch myself getting caught up in training results and I have to remind myself that in training, it is all about the personal wins. This reminder came to me during the last U.S. Ski Team training camp in Park City, Utah. We were doing a rollerski time trial at the end of camp, which also happened to be my first classic rollerski intensity all year. I was so excited to be skiing with two poles again that I didn’t really care that I was getting my butt kicked. That was because winning the time trial that day didn’t matter to me, I was trying to win on a personal level; I wanted to finish a time trial where I went as hard as I could with two poles strapped to my hands.

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We started off camp by running in snow!
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One pole classic intervals on the treadmill in the beginning of camp when I still couldn’t use my arm.
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Bounding intervals up the mountain with poles!
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And finally a sprint simulation at the end of camp with two poles!

It seems uncharacteristic as athlete to not to care about winning, but I have found that feeling like you put your best foot forward every day is far more important than getting gold. And of course, if you give it your all and you win, that is even better! However, there can only be one winner every race so all you can focus on is your personal wins, and hopefully if you focus on your personal goals day to day, you will win one day.

I have now completed my first full weekend of European World Cups. My personal goals for these World Cup races are to gain experience, learn as much as I can, and give it my all every race. Although I am not happy with my first three races and I feel like they did not show what I know I am capable of, I achieved my personal goals. It is frustrating to not feel as fit as a hoped and find myself further back than I expected, but I am trying to remind myself it is only November and only the first races of the season in one of the most competitive World Cup fields all year. I am channeling my disappointment into motivation to work even harder and be ready to go for the next race!

Here are a few photos that recap my busy fall and the start of racing season!

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I got back on my mountain bike…
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…and it was quite exciting!
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I reunited with my fellow guppy Hannah 🙂
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I caught up with my friend Mariah that I hadn’t seen in a long time!
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Fast and Female event in Park City: I ran the basketball station.
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Sophie and I teamed up for workouts in the late fall. 
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A part of our SMS T2 team headed up to Canada to get on snow for a few days.
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Which included wood fires and bannagrams. 
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Our SMS T2 team had our annual team send off dinner/party. Photo featuring the Kern + Odgen family. 
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Right before I headed off to Europe, I lead an EMBK practice. It was so inspiring to work with the next generation of skiers from the Boston area!
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And finally I joined a CSU practice the day before I left!
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Training in Rovaniemi, Finland at sunrise/sunset since the days are so short at the arctic circle.
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Cold but exciting pre race prep. (Photo: Zach Caldwell who is also helping Bryan Fish with waxing my skis!)
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Enjoying my afternoon (looks like night time) ski under the lights.
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With a short break to watch the jumping competition. 
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And finally our beautiful new wax truck, which everyone is very excited about! 

Look out for more blogs to come about being on the road on the World Cup!

-JKern

Adventures From New Zealand

I just got back from my 3-week training camp down in New Zealand and it was awesome! This was the longest training camp I have ever been to and I loved it! As a cross-country skier from the east, my time spent skiing on snow begins late November and stretches to the end of March, and that is only if it is a good snow year. This means I only get to spend 4 months on snow (which is also the race season) and the remaining 8 months of the year I do dry land training to prepare myself for the short season. Even though I was limited by how much I could ski with two poles, the opportunity to ski on snow for 3 straight weeks in the summer (their winter) with my team was incredible.

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Fresh snow on the last day!
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Sunshine and perfect klister conditions, what more could you want?
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Motto of the camp:  “no poles, no problem”. 
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Jessie and I out on a ski. 
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Snow and skiing 🙂 

Not only was this the longest camp I have ever been to, but it was also my first time in New Zealand. I must say I absolutely love New Zealand and I can see myself living there some day. I have to admit, we got pretty lucky since we had perfect weather for our bigger adventures and for most of the training days so my perspective might be a little flawed. Here were some of my favorite adventures from camp (in no particular order)

#1: Lake Wanaka

We ran along Lake Wanaka with the mountains towering over the water in the background. The run ended with a quick (and very cold) swim to the famous tree and a big hug for another very big tree (we counted, it takes about 7 people to wrap around the tree).

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The famous tree, brrrrr. 
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A big hug for a big tree. 
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Hanging out in a tree by Lake Wanaka.

# 2: The Matukituki Run

The adventure started long before the run, with country road driving through cow and sheep herds, deep river crossings with the car, and waterfalls falling left and right. Once we parked our cars, we set out for a 4 hour run through the Matukituki valley. We made cow friends, crossed freezing glacial rivers, ran off trail to a massive waterfall, tip toed our way across suspension bridges, and explored a jungle. This run is my new #1 best run of all time.

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That was one stubborn cow, mooooove. 
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Wobble wobble, 5 person limit.
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Making the river crossing while also getting a nice ice bath at the same time. 

#3: Crust Cruise

We woke up the day after the Merino Muster race and were greeted by the perfect crust cruising conditions—frozen solid crust, sunshine, and little wind. We pointed our skis towards the ridgeline and started skating uphill for a long time. Halfway to the top, a group of us decided to send it down to a deep valley so we could swing some turns and climb up the other side to ski the whole ridge to Mount Pisa. We had views of mountains extending in all directions as we cruised along the ridge and descended back down to the snow farm. This also is my new #1 crust cruise of all time.

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The group climbing up together (PC: Matt Whitcomb)
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The point where we decided to send it down and climb all the way back up that massive wall.
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Matt captured this amazing shot of my group climbing along the ridge looking like little ants (PC: Matt Whitcomb). 
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How could this not be my #1 crust cruise?!  (PC: Jessie Diggins). 
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Ben finishing off the crust cruise the right way (PC: Jessie Diggins).

#4: “Technique” Ski

I went out for an easy afternoon ski with my teammate Sophie and my coach Matt, hoping to work on my skate technique. Very quickly we realized the visibility was almost nonexistent and the loop we went on was covered in deep snowdrifts. The technique ski turned into quite the opposite; we stomped through the deep snow by high kneeing and flopping all over the place. Each person led until they either face planted (which happened every few minutes) or lost the trail and skied off of it. This was near the end of camp so we were hit by the “tired giggles” as we like to call them so it was a very comical ski 🙂

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This pretty much sums it up 🙂 

#5 Sunset Walks

One of my favorite things to do when I am on the road is to go for sunrise and/or sunset walks/runs. It gives me a chance to move some blood while exploring the foreign place I am in. New Zealand was the perfect place to do this since we had an incredible view from the snow farm! My teammates Jessie and Ben joined me on very scenic and beautiful sunset walks/photo shoots.

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I captured this shot on a morning walk as the clouds were being illuminated by the sunrise.
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Our sunset view from the strength room was not too shabby!
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Sunset vibes. 
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Ben and Jessie up to some sunset walk shenanigans (don’t ask me what they are doing…maybe it is a new game they invented?) 
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Happy to have sunset walk buddies and my camera 🙂

After 3 weeks of good training, I was ready to head home for some rest and recovery. On my way back to the east, I made a two-day stop in San Francisco to visit my sister and tour the city for my 20th birthday. It was the perfect way to break up the long travel and get some quality sister time (even though it is always too short) before heading back to Stratton, VT. Now I am in Stratton for another week before I head west again for our U.S. Ski Team camp in Park City!

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My sister gave me a bike tour around the city and I “saw” the Golden Gate Bridge right behind me.
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Beach volleyball city style. 

-JKern

Sources of Influence

For my photography class this summer, I had to give a “sources of influence” presentation. I realized how important my family and the people around me were to shaping my love for the outdoors. It was no coincidence that almost all of the photos I took this term were in the outdoors.

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The family tower 🙂

My love for nature started from day one; I was lying in the ski sled as a baby, standing on skis once I could walk, and soon enough I was chasing down my sister every chance I could get. Growing up, my parents took my sister and I to surf at beach, hike in the mountains, climb up cliffs, ski up and down mountains, and bike on trials. I pretty much did every sport imaginable as a kid, rushing from track to swim practice or from a soccer game straight into back to back basketball games, week after week. I am not even sure how I had enough energy to do all the sports I did! However, as I got older the time commitment grew for each sport and I had to pick my favorites.








By the time I reached high school, I was set on playing college basketball. My mom had coached both my sister and I growing up and I absolutely loved it. I always looked up to my mom and my sister, hoping that one day they wouldn’t crush me in a game of 1 v 1. But….my freshman year of high school things changed. I trained seriously for both skiing and basketball and realized that I loved skiing even more than basketball.



It wasn’t necessarily my love for either of the sports that had changed, I think it was my love for the ski culture that made me even more excited to ski. The people in the ski community were excited to go for a long adventure hike/run in mountains, the athletes were excited for training, the coaches wouldn’t see training as a punishment, and there was by far no lack of self-motivation! I have played many sports and nothing comes close to the weird, funny, enthusiastic, and adventurous ski community that I am fortunate enough to be a part of.

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Crust cruising in Bend, Oregon.
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Mountain running in Bozeman, Montana.
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Mountain biking in Burke, Vermont.
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Post spring series hang out.

This presentation made me realize that both my family and skiing have taught me work ethnic, given me a sense of adventure, and ultimately fostered my love for the outdoors. I have learned how to set goals, overcome set backs, and work my butt off for something I really care about. And ultimately, skiing has allowed me to travel to some of the most incredible places in the world and meet really cool people.

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Hammer time.
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Best friends and best teammates ❤

My final portfolio for my photography course revolved around the central theme of water. I found a quote by Margaret Atwood from the The Penelopiad to accompany my portfolio.

“Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can’t go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.”












Maybe my choice to focus on water was no coincidence. I found a way to train around my elbow injury this summer, avoiding using my upper body for over 10 weeks. I spent a lot of time in water, whether it was a pool, a river, or a lake because there is something about water that has always made my body feel better. After a lot of patience, my elbow pain suddenly disappeared and I was booking a flight to New Zealand. I finished up school early, packed my bags, and jumped on a plane to fly half way across the world to ski on snow at a U.S. Ski Team camp.

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I guess I have always loved water.
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I spent a lot of time at the rope swing this summer at Dartmouth.
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Post OD run ice bath in the river.

I am fortunate to have such positive sources of influence in my life. I am excited to be in New Zealand, adventuring in the outdoors with people who share the same love for skiing and outdoor adventures as I do. Look for another blog shortly with my thoughts on the U.S. Ski Team camp in New Zealand, but until then…here are some teasers!

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First day on snow and VERY excited! Slowly easing back into using poles. (PC: Matt Whitcomb)
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Sunset walks (PC: Jessie Diggins)
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The MOST EPIC crust cruise ever! (PC: Matt Whitcomb)
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Run along Lake Wanaka (PC: Jessie Diggins)
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Matukituki run! (PC: Jessie Diggins)
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Yup…that is a big waterfall (and that not even half of it).
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Skipping rocks in the glacial river during our Matukituki run. (PC: Ida Sargent)
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Daily sunset walks. (PC: Jessie Diggins)

More about New Zealand to come soon!

-JKern

The Frustration of Injury: Fighting Back

Injury is not a foreign concept to me. At this point and I know what to expect—there will be times of frustration, lack of motivation, hopelessness, and eventually progress. Even though I know what is coming every time, it is still challenging.

Phases of injury/illness:

  1. It is okay, I will be back in no time.
  2. Okay…this might impact my training for a bit, but I’ll be okay.
  3. Well, it has been a while…and it is going to be a while…and I can’t do anything fun for training.
  4. This is never going to end. What even is normal?

I am approaching 7 weeks of no training that involves the upper body (including any gripping activities like biking) with no real timeline ahead. I have found the unknown timeline for an injury is much harder pill to swallow than with a set timeline like a broken bone for example (not that having a broken bone is easy). Athletes are good at setting goals and making plans—from process goals all the way to long-term goals, there are steps and ways to measure forward progress. However, when you don’t know when you can use your arms for the first time for example, let alone be back to a normal training routine, it is easy to lose hope and forget what normal even feels like.

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Zap zap, make things go back to normal.

Relative to my other injuries and illnesses, this elbow injury doesn’t even compare, yet, I have gone 6 weeks without much progress. This raises two questions I ask myself all the time. What am I doing wrong? What can I change? Maybe my body just breaks easily. Maybe I ignore normal training aches and pains too long. Maybe I have yet to discover the answer. Or maybe I will never know.

What I do know is that I can fight back.

During a former injury/illness, one of my coaches once told me that playing the victim is never the answer. At the time it was not what I wanted to hear, nor did I understand what it actually meant. It wasn’t until the injury had passed and I had some perspective, when I truly understood what it meant.

This brings me the phases 5 and 6, the hardest but most moving phases.

  1. Hopelessness/indifference: I have tried everything, what is the point to keep trying with no result?
  2. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and fight back.

Phase 5 is what I call the protection phase; it is how I protect myself from getting hurt by something I really care about, trying to blame other things and act like I am indifferent. That eventually leads to Phase 6, the “turning point”, where I decide that playing the “victim” will never solve the problem, and decide to get my sh*t together.

So…I am ready to fight back once again! I have already been through this rodeo a few too many times to know that although it sucks, adversity has always made me better. It almost comforting to know that when I am healthy again, I know I will be more motivated and excited to train than anyone else, and that appreciation for “normal” can only come when normal is taken away. I try to remind myself the positives of the situation when I am having a rough day and focus on what I can do.

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Smiling because I can run up mountains 🙂 (PC: Emily Hyde)
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Goofing off with my teammates on an OD adventure.
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Sunshine and summit smiles (PC: Erika Flowers Newell).

This elbow injury has given me the opportunity to work on one my biggest weaknesses, running (aka conditioning). I am running a lot and loving it. I have fallen back in love with running now that I am fit enough for it to be enjoyable. Unlike other injuries I have had, I am lucky enough to be able to still train and not lose fitness and I try to remind myself of that when I am having a tough day.

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Running on one of my favorite trails, Franconia Ridge!
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Up, up, up we go! (PC: Erika Flowers Newell)
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Excited to see my SMS Elite teammates again.
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The perfect day for Franconia (PC: Erika Flowers Newell).
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Normatech pants have been my best friend, helping my legs recover “leg day” everyday.

I am grateful to be at school this summer because I am training a little bit less than I normally would so I have more free time on my hands. School has been a great distraction between workouts so I don’t go stir crazy thinking about my elbow. I have been trying to transfer my frustration into excitement for my classes, enjoying a different kind of challenge.

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How my hands look all the time.
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Pappardelle pasta!
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The power of a hand.
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Only half of my drawings…clearly I have been busy and covered in charcoal.
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Some prints from the waterproof film camera I am experiment with for my class!

With summer term already half over, I am fighting back and enjoying what I can do!

-JKern

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