Athlete spotlight: Simi Hamilton
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
The middle-aged Indian man working the counter at the Starbucks at Washington-Dulles International Airport gave me a funny look when he handed me my change and I exclaimed, “Danke.” I guess when you spend four months on the road halfway around the world, some things just become automatic.
I’ve been back in the land of the free for about 20 hours now, and the excitement of being home again, of seeing familiar landmarks and towns, of recognizing the value of a coin at a quick glance without having to study if for 30 seconds has not even started to wear off. It’s good to be back. I will stay on the East Coast for a few more weeks of domestic racing before I head back to Colorado in April – just in time for some adventures to the desert and tours in the backcountry above Marble.
It’s hard to maintain an aggressive and race-ready psyche throughout the entire race season, especially during these final weeks when the birds begin to sing again and temperatures live above freezing longer and longer each day. So I’m not going to talk about how much I’m looking forward to getting away to someplace warm in April, and that’s for my own sake. Instead, I’d love to share what the last couple of weeks have been like and why they were probably the most important days of my season.
With the last two sprints of the World Cup season scheduled for classic technique, things were not looking especially good for me. Traditionally, I’ve been a far better skate sprinter than I have been a classic sprinter. That isn’t to say that I haven’t been working on this weakness, however, it’s just that I’ve never qualified for the heats in a World Cup classic sprint (with the exception of the Canmore World Cup in 2010, but that race had a relatively small field). So to qualify 13th in Lahti, Finland, and end up 11th – my second best World Cup result ever – at the end of the day was a huge eye opener for me.
“Okay,” I said to myself falling asleep that night, “I guess I can do this whole classic thing.”
The result gave me the confidence I needed to head into the Drammen, Norway, classic sprint, just two days after the Lahti sprint with my head held high. When walking into a lion’s den, it’s best to hold your head high. The pure stoke of having finished seventh in Drammen, a mere 0.2 seconds from advancing to the finals as a lucky loser, has not wavered and will be crucial in my confidence and drive heading into the quickly approaching training season.
Thanks for checking in, and see everyone back home soon!
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Under bluebird skies with 160 acres under their boots, hundreds of skiers and snowboarders took to Aspen Mountain for opening day Wednesday.