PUT YOUR EGO ASIDE! THIS IS THE WORLD CUP!
by Meredith Edwards
What a journey I’m on.
I’ve been skimo racing for couple years. Last year I had a chance to race at the World Championships in France. After going there and seeing what the sport is like I made a decision to return and spend this winter in France.
In the past years there has been at least one other US member racing World Cup, but this year I am alone representing.
At Mountain Athlete last summer I was also the lone skimo athlete training with a bunch of Freeskiers. We would joke about me in the corner doing my own workout singing “All by Myself” – but apparently this has been my theme song of my season.
I came to Europe for one reason. To get better.
In Europe everyone skimo races. Every village has small competitions packed with strong skiers.
The World Cup races are a big deal here. and then there is World Cup. Each has its own opening ceremony where every country competing represented.
All the top athletes are introduced and sometimes after announcing our names, we are lowered into the room from the ceiling on a rope swing! (Silly Euros….)
I could have stayed in the US this year likely would have done well each week. But I wanted to challenge myself and Europe has done that.
I’ve had to re-learned those classic lessons – “Don’t fear failure – it’s the only way to improve,” and “When you get knocked down, get back up and try harder.”
My first major race was the French National Championships. Going in I was feeling good and had some confidence build up from other small races.
I shared a little apartment with members of the French National team. A bit intimidated but happy to get to know them.
On the morning of the race I watched them prepare. I watched what they ate and also observed how they handled their equipment.
I was all ready to go and then I saw them spray down there skis with this spray. They covered there bindings and the tips of there polls. I didn’t bother to ask.
I later found out they sprayed their bindings down with silicon to prevent ice build up. We all run Dynafit, and ice build up under the binding will prevent it from closing.
The race had seven bootpacks – lots of opportunity for ice to build up on the bindings…..
I was having a great race. I was feeling strong and picking people off on the last two hill climbs. When I got to the top of the last climb and transitioned my binding would not close. I freaked out. I took my poll tip and tried to remove the build up but it far in there to reach.
The racers I’d passed on the way up, in turn passed me on the transition and I was helpless. I ended up finishing the race on one ski.
The next week was the first World Cup event.
Not having a team or support at times seems scary and stressful. It’s just you. Lucky for me our coach from last year World’s came in from a London business trip to help. What a relief to have him there.
Together we went to the coach’s meeting and I knew I’d have at least one American fan when I carried the US flag for opening ceremony.
I don’t think I have ever been so nervous for a race. In Europe, skimo racing is very popular. At the start of the race there are people every where, two helicopters flying around, and photographers!
It’s so intimidating when you see the caliber of athletes here. The women’s field is stacked with amazing athletes, ones that I even admire in the ultra world. It’s so surreal to be on the starting line with them.
In the US we do have strong women. One of them is Stevie Kremer. At World Cup it’s like being on the starting line with 25 Stevie Kremer’s and even better!
What so amazing about racing at this level is no matter where you are you are forced to rise to the level of competition. Every start is crazy and I feel like I can’t do it but I do.
Words given to me by US National Skimo Champion Luke Nelson, “what you gain from failure is far more important and powerful than what comes from success”. I believe this sums up my experience here this far. I leave this week for another world cup in Italy. More experiences more learning…
Meredith’s Skimo Racing Results, 2013-2014
3rd US nationals
3rd US Qualifier at Targhee
31st @ World Championships
3rd Powderkeg Individual
3rd Powderkeg Sprint
4th Power of four Aspen
2nd Vertical Race Courchevel
3rd Vertical Race Courchevel
23th Verbier World Cup Individual
16th Italian World Cup Sprint
15th Italian World Cup Individual