Athlete spotlight: Katie Ryan
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
It’s 8 a.m. the day before Valentine’s Day, and I’m reluctantly sitting in Starbucks. Although I’m happy to be out of the pelting snow and sipping on a mocha, all I really want to be doing is warming up for my downhill.
If you haven’t noticed the lines of B netting running down the right side of Aspen Mountain, now is the time. This past week, Aspen has been host to the only full speed series of the North American Cup.
It’s a real opportunity to race in Aspen, especially when we can run over Aztec. Aztec is a world-renowned pitch that intimidates just about anyone cresting the break. If it doesn’t scare you at least a little, you’re not going fast enough.
I wake up at 6 a.m. and dress in my ninja-esc black baselayers. I eat while warming up on my spin bike at home, another perk of being back in Aspen. I pack up, defrost the car, put on my ski boots and drive. It’s not yet 7 before I’m picking up my skis at the tuning room, totally prepped and strapped up for me thanks to my awesome tech, Chief. I’m one of the first athletes at the base of Lift 1A, which isn’t unusual, but so much snow has accumulated that I stall putting on my skis until I hear word we’re actually racing. Good thing, too: I don’t need to start warming up for a couple hours, and that’s how I end up seated here with my boots off.
Every time I go to the grocery store or Starbucks, I run into someone I know and usually get the same questions. One frequently asked is: “Is it nice being home?”
Instead of breezing you the answer “Yep, it’s great,” I’ll fill you in: I love sleeping in my own bed, seeing my dog, playing host to teammates as the in-the-know local, home-cooked meals, driving and not needing directions. it’s all awesome. I realize my appreciation for home comes from being gone so often, which is why I’m excited to be back on the road yet again.
In what has become a crowded coffee shop, a baby starts to cry. That’s my cue to take a free run.
Time to run some speed.
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The 2020-21 Nordic combined season was supposed to be historic. This winter was going to be the first ever with women’s Nordic combined World Cup events, the first scheduled for Dec. 3-6 in Lillehammer, Norway.