College Skiing

I've been competitively racing for almost 5 years, and I like to think I've had a little experience at the Junior level. I've qualified for 5 Junior National Championships where I've skied to an All American place 7 times, been competitive at the Minnesota State championships 5 times, and raced at Senior Nationals twice. I felt very prepared for coming into college skiing, and although I wasn't at my best fitness or strength, I've trained at high levels before, so I felt like I could do it again.

When I was looking at colleges, I knew I wanted to find a ski program that was right for me. Although a lot of collegiate ski programs look similar on the outside, I found out that it was the small details that really defined the programs.  My decision was influenced by how competitive the team was, how close they were to snow, how much money the school cost, if the school had programs I was interested in, team dynamics, and how I liked the feel of the school. While this decision matrix helped ease me into to overwhelmingness of deciding the rest of my future (or so it seemed), as soon as I visited Northern Michigan University and the ski team, I knew that I wanted to be a part of that program. 
I love the lake effect snowfall we get- lots of fresh powdery snow!

Throughout the fall and now, winter, I've been starting to see the differences between high school/junior racing, and college skiing. Although I felt well prepared for the jump, I was a little overwhelmed. Moving to a new place, having new coaches and teammates, and being in a new place was a lot of changes at once.Thankfully, I was familiar with the structure of training NMU does and had trained at that type of level before, and I could deal with the step up in volume from the summer. The biggest adjustment for me was the change of structure during the day. Here at NMU, I often go for a run in the morning, go to class, do a little homework, go to practice, and do a little homework after. I don't have any huge blocks of time during the day, so I have to work on homework when I can, so it gets done. 

Another big difference I found between high school and college is the intensity. In past years, I've trained at high volumes and had similar workouts to the ones we do here. But on this team, there are so many competitive, highly motivated, passionate girls, that you don't ever get the chance to mentally or physically slack off. In almost every workout this fall, I was working to keep up. Once my fitness and strength caught up a little, it did get easier, but the mentality of the group is amazing. Every single person is working their butt off to be the best skier they can possibly be, and as much as it is challenging, it is inspiring. Everyone is doing the small things to get good, and truly shows you what you have to do if you want to be the best. 
I love being on a team with girls who constantly push me
Although the amount of training went up, the number of races I do during the winter went down. In high school, I often raced three to four times a week, because of the combination of JNQ races and high school races. For an example, every year, I would have my high school conference championship on a Friday (racing a classic 5k in the morning and a skate 5k pursuit in the afternoon), and then my dad and I would immediately leave and go to the JNQ that weekend, where I would race on Saturday and Sunday. It's nice that now, in college, I don't have to juggle multiple competitions a week. This allows me to do intervals during the week, and train better for the races on the weekends! Being in UP requires a little bit of traveling for the weekend races, but it gives me a little time to do some homework!
I still get to see my old high school teammates when racing in college!

I went from being on a team where I had the most experienced, to a team where I was the least experienced. I am surrounded by knowledgeable teammates and skillful coaches, and I'm trying to make the most of it by asking questions. I know I have so much to learn, and I'm so lucky to be surrounded by people who want to help me get better. And as much as my experience so far has been different from the high school level, racing is just the same- go out there and push it as hard as you can. 
When you live on a lake, and have sunrises like these, getting up for morning runs is a breeze
Right now, we are gearing up for our last couple weekends of racing, similarly to the Minnesota State High Schoolers. It was so much fun to follow all of the Section Meet results, especially my former high school, SP Highland Park. Both teams won their section meet this year,  for the second year in a row, which is phenomenal because just 15 years ago, there were only 10 athletes on the team. Now the roster boasts more than 90 athletes. Good luck to the Highland kids, and all of the other state qualifiers next Thursday at State!


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