KIMBERLY JOINES: Letter to Rossland 3
Another few weeks have passed, and a lot has happened in my world. I just returned home from the first part of the World Cup Circuit, and for me, the first races of the season. It was a bit of a roller coaster ride, so I’ve returned home with some mixed emotions.
For me (according to my coaches), the first part of the circuit was meant to be approached as if I was still in training mode: get some miles on snow that I was lacking. Being as competitive as I am, this was frustrating… so a lack of results picked away at me a bit. I returned home with two silver GS medals, and a number of DNF’s.
For the majority of my DNf’s I actually skied quite well, so I suppose it is still better than just skiing slow and getting my butt kicked! But, for me, not finishing has never really been a problem, so it was emotionally a bit draining. The coaches maintain that I am right on track…and that I got some very good “training” out of the trip. And, of course I am still proud of the two second place finishes.
The three weeks on the tour seemed longer than usual. This may have been that due to perfect weather, there was not a single cancelled day… making our days off few and far between. Two of the races spanned 6 days straight, with only a day of travel in the middle; the able bodied racers we speak with are shocked to hear our schedule. But with limited budgets for all of the teams on the circuit, I think they try hard to cram as many races as possible into a short timeframe to bulk up the season as efficiently as possible.
The highlight of the trip was our final day in Austria, in which we were given the opportunity to watch the men’s slalom races in Kitzbuhel. If you aren’t already aware, Kitzbuhel is like the super bowl of ski racing… so it’s kind of a big deal! We cheered on the Canadian men’s team to a record breaking 4 finishers in the top 15… the best finish being Mike Janyk in 5th. Most of our athletes are friends with at least of a couple of the guys on the team, but rarely get a chance to cheer them on at an event. I think they really fed off of our rowdy cheering section. The excitement of watching ski racing in a (crazy Austrian) crowd of 50 000 really helped me to re-focus my energy, and the disappointments of the previous three weeks just seemed to fade away.
The lowlight of the trip actually happened the very same day. As we drove from Kitzbuhel to Munich (in order to fly home the next day), I started having some pain in my stomach. With a brief stop at the hotel, and a check by the team doc, I was on my way to the hospital. It turned out that my appendix really wanted to stay in Germany, and so it did! Sadly, this extended my already long trip another 5 days.
I did manage to convince the hospital to release me on my birthday, so that I could at least have a nice birthday meal in the airport hotel with my favorite coach (who volunteered to stay and help me); not the most exciting birthday… we watched TV and went to bed. As for healing time, I will be ready to be skiing again by the Paralympics. If I am “lucky” I might even get back on snow a few times before then for some training… but for now I am holding my breath. Mental training will be taking precedence over the physical training for the time being. It’s just another thing to make my journey to the games more exciting, right?
We pushed hard and got clearance to fly home as soon as possible after surgery, which got me home JUST in time for the Rossland Olympic Challenge wrap up fundraiser benefit. I was so happy to be able to attend, and had a great evening. Major thanks to all of the many volunteers, musicians and Rosslanders in attendance! It was a great thing to come home to, and really brightened my mood. I was stoked to see the awesome community support, and look forward to representing Rossland at the games in March.
It has been suggested to me, that if I were currently at the top of my game and winning everything on the circuit, it would be less fun showing up and winning a number of medals at the Paralympics. Now, I’m not quite sure about that because it sounds kind of fun to me… but what I am sure about is that ANY medal I come home with now, given the struggles I have pushed through in the past two seasons will be truly earned, and very rewarding to me. A podium (or two, three, etc.) will be a very proud moment, and much more cherished than it would have been during my year as World Cup Leader.
I would say to wish me luck Rossland, but being that “if I didn’t have bad luck, I’d have no luck at all”, I don’t really believe in it. Just cheer loud, send me good vibes, and the rest will fall into place!