As the December comes to a close, I like to spend time reflecting on the past years: the places I’ve been, the things I’ve done, and the people, communities, and support that have helped get me there.
Regardless of talent, region, motivations, or age, Nordic skiers understand the importance of bonding together in support of one another and our sport. This sense of community excitement is why I absolutely love coming home to the Midwest for the winter holidays. The trails are packed with skiers tip-to-tail, trying out new gear, getting ready for the racing season, skiing with family, and smiling and laughing with everyone out there. There’s a buzz of happiness, even when the skies are gray and the snow is thin. As Midders (my new favorite word for Mid-westerners) we should be proud of our strong skiing community, and we should definitely continue to welcome people into it.
I started skiing in 9th grade, an awkward skinny soccer-player-turned-track-runner who joined the Wayzata High School team because my friends told me it was a great way to stay in shape. I had no idea what I was getting myself in to. I showed up to ski camp and had no clue how to classic ski. Infamous coach around Minnesota, Larry Myers, took me to a hill and ran me up and down it, showing me how to coordinate my skinny skis and awkwardly long poles.
And let me tell you, it’s been a long road of learning to get where I am now. I poled myself in the face my first time skiing at Trollhaugen. I wore my pants backwards in my first classic race ever, fell in the tracks, and some kid just proceeded to ski up and over my leg. I’ve almost started the race wearing someone else’s skis, I’ve fallen right before the finish line, I’ve fallen right after the start line, I’ve fallen in front of coaches, and I’ve fallen on countless downhills. I’ve broken skis, poles, bindings, glasses, and rollerskis, and I’ve backed over my boots with my car.
I’ve failed and succeeded, but throughout it all, the support systems I’ve found in places like Gear West, coaches like the Wayzata and Olaf coaches, and Minnesotan friends and families are unmatchable. It feels so good to return to my roots and no matter what, this place and people will always feel like home.
Next up is Senior Nationals in Houghton, Michigan! I’ve had an interesting start to the season, being sick for a month and trying to play catch up, but I’m excited to be back at it. Good luck to everyone racing!
-Posted by Paige Schember on Dec 29th 2015