Winter is Coming

It’s cold in Park City. Not a snatch the air from your lungs cold, but a type that means you’ll wake up to a frost coated front lawn each morning. Of course, all that frost evaporates when the sun creeps up from behind the mountains. It’s not a lasting cold, it’s a warning. In the words of literally every character on Game Of Thrones: Winter is coming.

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Yes Jon Snow, we know, winter is coming, which means that skiers everywhere are entering the final stages of preparation for racing season. But what if I don’t feel ready? It’s in this final stage of training that I feel most often the creeping doubt that I might not have done enough. It’s when I get an urge to cram extra training in. It’s something like the fear that enters your brain the night before a final exam.

That feeling of not knowing is why I believe in the power of sport to transport us above and beyond all of the levels to which we so often reduce it. I can frame this upcoming season in terms of fitness, in terms of strength, in terms of results, in terms of recovery — and thinking in all those terms can be helpful and enlightening. All those things will make contributions to what this season will become. But when that perfect race comes and your boots seem to fit just right, it doesn’t feel analytically finite. Maybe that’s just endorphins messing with brain chemistry, I don’t know. But it feels like a miracle that has nothing to do with a training log.

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Do you think Alex was counting his yearly hours right here?

But if the racing season can feel so dislocated from preparation, then why am I worried about whether or not I’m ready? Maybe it’s because that the struggle at this time of year isn’t to ready yourself further. Maybe it’s to recognize that you won’t feel ready until you do the dang thing. No matter your natural talent, practiced skill, or earned experience, you won’t know the truth until you toe that first starting line.

That doesn’t mean that training or preparation should ever stop, it’s just that believing this is remarkably freeing. If you can admit that you won’t ever feel totally ready, you don’t have to ask yourself about the specifics. You’re only left with one choice: Do I want to try? Or don’t I? That decision should be much easier to make.

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Not thinking, just doing.   Photo -Simi Hamilton

I don’t know. Maybe this is just idiocy endorsed by wild overthought. But maybe it’s just that lots of things seem impossible until they’re done.

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