|A Pretty Good Alternative|
- By: Brooke Gosling
Through-out the fall I have been reading the articles written by my fellow athletes, and decided I would like to write something, so here it is.
For most of us, the love of the sport drives us to continue to train and compete at varying levels. This addiction to training, and seeing how hard you can push yourself is the epitomy of a nordic skiier, there is not any other sport (maybe running) that could possibly understand this obsession. We are definetly in our own arena when it comes to athletics.
I will be one to atest that this feeling of needing to succeed and to live up to your own expectations in nordic skiing never leaves you, even when you know that there are other things that have to become priorities as great as training, racing and performing at a certain standard.
For some of us, knowing that we don't quite have the experience, nor the training past is sometimes overwhelming, hence the thought "will I EVER make it?" tends to creep into our thoughts. For example, I have been training for four years for nordic skiing, racing for about five at the club/national level, there would be no way that I would make a decision to commit every ounce of heart and soul into skiing, I am just not mature as a skiier and school and growing as an athlete are still neck n' neck in the priority level category. So I needed a solution, or an "alternative" for that matter.
I decided to pursue both. Currently I am competing for the University of New Mexico (no its not Mexico, it's a state). To be perfectly honest, it has been more then I had expected and has provided me with experiences that I had always believed were unfathomable. I still train the amount of hours as many other athletes at home (Canada) do, I have the opportunity to compete against europeans (the standard for our sport, although with Becky Scott and the US men, that gap is gradually narrowing), I have seen all of the western states, raced in Alaska, gone to training camps to the bottom of the grand canyon, went to a training camp in Moab, Utah, and biked on the infamous slick rock, and training camps in Winter Park, Colorado at the YMCA ranch. Hiked to some amazing peaks in Northern New Mexico (Santa Fe, Taos, Red River) and Arizona (Flagstaff), as well as skiied in some of the most amazing powder (alpine that is) in Vail, CO. As a bonus, I am earning a degree in Finance Management. The big point: skiing in every way is my lifestyle, and even more than before- sorry for the cheesiness, and that desire to race to my absolute potential and beyond is even stronger.
The UNM coaching staff is incredible, Fredrik Landstedt is quite possibly the best techniqe coach I have had (if you know me, you would know that over the last two years, my classic skiing is about a million percent better than it was- I was beyond brutal!). The strength program and coaching is so well tailored to the athlete and sport, in combination with the facilities, you would think you were at an Olympic training center of some sort. In other words, the athletic department and faculty take really REALLY good care of us!
Let alone the added bonuses of football (made it to a bowl game this year-Las Vegas bowl)-opening game had close to 40,000 fans!!!, soccer (made it to second round NCAA), basketball (in the infamous PIT), and baseball games etc, the spirit of athletics is just pouring out of this school...its hard not to want to do well with such a positive competition ora surrounding you.
For the time being this is what is working for me, and it has been a trip of a life time (I still insist that I am on a holiday here!).
Given that with every good there is a potential bad, some things that are inevitable are the altitude...yes, I live at 6500ft, and often train and race anywhere from 6000ft to 13,000ft, the later is the hikes. As well, training with a group of older more experienced teammates sometimes tires you out, especially if you are vying for one of the three spots on the school team. Also, homesickness does tend to get to you, but that's why you have friends!! Although, if it doesn't kill ya, it only makes ya stronger!
Anyhow, I hope that this wasn't a complete waste of your time, and for those of you that are confused about what the next step would be, racing for a US university may work for you too! And if anything, you will get a degree, get some experience and be prepared to completely make that transition to skiing...without school! Hey , I only have a year and a half left!
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