Nordic skiing has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Maybe it was riding in the snuggy on my dad’s chest as he skied the Aspen trails nearly 30 years ago, or maybe it was the hot chocolate driven, after-school programming in elementary school. Somewhere along the line, I got hooked.
Then I entered my first Nordic race with Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club (AVSC) at 11 years old. The actual race is blurred with time, but I will never forget the scene: Steamboat Springs, 2-kilometer course, lining up with strangers from around the state, half tripping over my skis and poles, and winning. Maybe this win was also fueled by a fresh sugar rush from the ever-present hot chocolate in my early ski career. Nonetheless, it became the first race of many.
Racing with AVSC that first season led me to winning top Colorado Cup points, best in my age class within the Rocky Mountain Division, a feat I repeated the next six seasons. By eighth grade, I was skiing up in age class to attend Junior National Championships early. Sophomore year, I skied to my first top-five finish at Junior Nationals. Junior year brought my first qualification to race for the United States in Europe on the U18 international trip.
I attended this trip again during senior year, when I raced to a top 20 in the world for my age class. While racing for Dartmouth College, I earned NCAA All-American results, co-captained the ski team, developed a love for marathon ski racing and learned how to wax beyond Extra Blue kick.
Through it all, including the last five years coaching Nordic for the Jackson Hole Ski Club in Wyoming, I learned technique, training plans, ski waxing and all the necessary parts to high-level skiing. I am proud to have earned some great results and learned some valuable skills. But those are not the things that have kept me Nordic skiing. It is the pure love of the sport and community AVSC fostered throughout my entire junior ski career. Training is training, but training around Aspen on your favorite trails, with your best friends, with a coach who teaches you about the rocks, clouds, life and skiing, fuels a passion for being the best human I can possibly be. That is what AVSC Nordic is.
Now, 10 years after leaving AVSC, I’m returning to the place and people where it all started, with the goal of being top 10 in the nation’s overall rankings by the end of this season. I will be representing my home town racing on the national circuit and hope to represent our country in North America’s World Cup races this spring. I have big goals and a lot of hard work to do, but home is the place I know will push me farther than I have ever gone, to train harder, to focus more, to rest, to give back, to challenge myself, and to ski race!
Clubhouse Chronicles is a behind-the-scenes column written by the Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club that runs periodically in the Outdoors section.