I just finished a fun and exciting five months of nordic racing all over the world.
At the end of every season, I like to re-evaluate everything I'm doing. I want to guarantee that I'm not taking the sport and the lifestyle for granted. Am I still on track to be the best distance cross-country skier in the world? That is the first question. When the answer to that question is "no", it will be time to go to school and focus on my post-ski career, something I am very excited about. If the answer to that question is "yes," then I move on to the thousands of other questions: What are the big lessons from the last 12 months? What do I most need to be better at to have better results? How do I get better at that aspect of ski racing? What do I need to do to maintain my strengths?
How do I know that I'm still on track to be the best in the world? I definitely improved over last season; my best races were better than last year, and I had more consistent results. At the end of last season I was ranked 109th in the world on the FIS points list. When the year-end list comes out next month, I will be somewhere between 50th and 60th. I achieved my primary goal this season by medaling at the U23 World Championships. I also scored my first World Cup points, and I won my first national championship.
I achieved a lot of success this season, and I know where I need to improve. I have struggled to ski my best on the World Cup. My best finish is 26th, and there are guys my age winning and consistently finishing on the podium. The best two skiers in the world are only three years older than me. The sport is more and more about mass-start races, and I have not been good at tactics and in big group finishes. I struggle to ski on really fast snow and on flat courses. I am not good enough at sprint races to be competitive in the multi-day tour events. These are all opportunities for me to make huge gains.
I believe I had enough success this year to continue skiing for at least one more. I still believe I can be the best in the world. I enjoy the process of trying to get better and am having a ton of fun with the traveling and competing lifestyle. I have the support and backing of great coaches, an incredible family, a stable and committed ski club, and the fantastic community of Aspen. Thank you all! I can't wait to keep the process going.