Lessons from a 10 Year Old

After our snow-filled races in Truckee last month, I headed home to Bozeman for a three-week training break before the next set of SuperTour races in the Midwest. I’ve never had the opportunity to train at home during the winter so the brief spell in Bozeman was a welcome stop on the race circuit. I made sure to hit up all my favorite local hotspots…long skis up Bozeman Creek, a few too many brioche cinnamon buns at Wild Crumb, and evening sessions at the gym with my little sis Natalie! I even dragged Nat to Sun Valley for my first Boulder Mountain Tour and was thrilled to finish 2nd in a race that felt more like a trek up Everest than a downhill ski marathon.

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Perhaps my favorite day at home though was an afternoon spent at Lindley Park helping coach a group of U-10s in the Bridger Ski Foundation Youth Ski League. I joined my sister, Natalie (Coach Nat) for her weekly skate lesson with an energetic group of 9 and 10 year olds who couldn’t have been happier to charge around on skinny skis in a snowstorm. We spent a good portion of the ski working on our downhill skiing, which coincidentally also works on uphill skiing in order to get to the top of the downhill (tricks of the coaching trade). We skied by another young boy doing laps on the downhill and chanting,

IMG_3051.JPG“Skiing for the gummy bear, skiing for the gummy bear.”

Another coaching strategy…kids will do almost anything for a gummy bear. No matter what the motivation, young skiers filled every corner of the downtown Bozeman trail system, the very place I strapped on my first pair of Nordic skis as an eager 5th grader.

Halfway through the practice, a 10 year old named Molly* skied up to me with a question:

Molly: “Are you going to the Olympics?”

Me: “That’s the goal!”

Molly: “But do you think you are going?”

Me: “I don’t know, but I know that I am going to do everything I can to get there.”

Molly: “But do you think you will go?”

Me: “I think I’m going to try my best and hopefully I will make it.”

Molly: “But do YOU THINK you will make it?”

Me: “…”

She had a good point and I didn’t have a satisfactory answer. I posed the question back to her and she said probably not. Her friend piped in however saying she was going to go to the Olympics in swimming. We kept skiing and finished the practice with a game of piranhas in the fish tank (which is probably my new favorite ski game). While we sped loops around the field, trying to avoid getting caught by the circling piranhas, I kept thinking about Molly’s question. When it comes down to it I’m not sure I like my answer either!

I left Bozeman last Friday and joined the rest of my team in Michigan for SuperTour #4 in Ishpeming on the Upper Peninsula (da UP!). We are more than halfway through the racing season at this point and although I still have some big racing goals, my biggest is changing my mindset. I want to be able to answer Molly differently, and truly believe what I say. Deciding you want something and then actually believing you can, and will, do it may be one of the hardest things about pursing a big goal or dream.  But when people talk about the secret to success, I think cultivating that confidence might be huge part of it. Thanks for the nudge Molly!IMG_3069.JPG

* using pseudonym ☺

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