We skied for the last time this morning in Falun. The fans were gone, the stadium was empty, the banners taken down, and us orphan Americans without a home to easily return to, were the only skiers out on the trails. Another World Champs is finished and it was an incredible knockout week for the US Ski Team. There were strong perfomances in almost every race and then having two American flags raised above the podium was unbelievable and a testament to all the hard work we have put down as a team! Congrats to Jessie and Caitlin for very inspiring races!
Early last week I had my own knockout experience but of a slightly different kind. I was finishing a workout with a few short speeds. The snow was icy and fast and at the end of one speed, I poled between my legs and faceplanted on the snow. The crash knocked the wind out of me but I was initially most concerned whether anyone had witnessed it or if I could pick up my broken glasses, watch, and other pieces of the yard sale fall without anyone noticing. I finished the ski feeling a little shook up but nothing too concerning. But as the day progressed a nagging headache refused to go away so I mentioned it to the team doctor mostly just hoping to get some Tylenol from the med kit. I had an early flight the next morning to go to Slovenia for OPA cup races the following weekend and I didn’t want a headache to keep me awake. Our doctor immediately ran me through a concussion test (which I thought I passed with flying colors but apparently not) and the coaches and doctor decided to cancel my travel plans. Initially I thought they were overreacting as it was just a little headache and I was very much looking forward to seeing my US friends and teammates racing on the OPA circuit as well as some fun and sunny racing in Slovenia that weekend! But within a few hours I was very thankful that our doctor had recognized the early concussion symptoms and the next day was grateful to be curled up in my bed in a dark room rather than trying to navigate airports and travel amidst waves of nausea, dizziness, and throbbing headaches.
A week has now past and I’m slowly emerging from the concussion haze and returning to some very easy training. It has been extremely challenging to go from the feelings of peak fitness to feeling worn out or dizzy after only a short walk. Hours and hours spent hanging out in a hotel room in the middle of World Championships and at first not even being able to read, watch tv, or surf the web have been equally painful. My mom always says, “everything happens for a reason” and I repeat this to myself as I knit, color, or partake in other mindless activities to pass the time. Each day I feel a little more like my normal self and am excited to return to racing. Tomorrow our team is travelling to Lahti, Finland for World Cups on Saturday and Sunday!