Hey. Welcome to Lake Placid. Beautiful here, huh? I know, right?
Yeah, you, standing there with that skida hat askew, sweat soaking your tech top tracing the topo map of the race course with your pointer finger.
I know what you’re doing, so you might as well stop.
There isn’t one. No, really, stop looking, this is Junior National Championships. You’re searching for where you will rest during your first race tomorrow. The gentle tuck-and-breathe downhill. Your eyes do not deceive you, there is no rest. This is a National Championship. You are at an Olympic venue, as in, the Olympics. There is no rest for the weary, or the wicked, but especially no rest for you. You made it! Congratulations!
You are here, at Junior National Championships, in Lake Placid, New York. The home of champions. Where miracles happen. Miracles can happen for you.
Yup, you made it. All those JNQ’s where you wore your special socks, and your coach used 1/16th of an ounce of fluoro carbons more expensive than my car payment so you could go impossibly fast in ridiculously humid snow. Nice work Moses. Where your Dad force fed you a protein smoothie and continued his monotone litany about proper hydration as you secretly snap chatted in the passenger side, your hand hidden behind the seat. That race you felt like garbage. Puked. Cried. Swore. How about the training session when your max intervals produced enough lactic acid to fell an elephant, but you kept going? You raced your way in sparkles and hair ribbons, in your brother’s JN suit from2010, in your grandpa’s knickers, but you made it, why are you looking for a place to rest?
Not convinced? Not yet? Ok.
Do you know Chip and Mike? Chip Draper and Mike Manor have been grooming the race course at the Olympic Jumping complex for 36 of the last 48 hours. Complete sleep deprivation, yet the classic tracks are pristine. The piston bullies they are driving are very temperamental. The temperamental piston bully mechanic Rick Preston is a magician. He should be leading Michael Schumacher’s pit crew, but he is working for you, and happy to do it. Your wax tech will need a minimum of three trips to a chiropractor. An amazing chiropractor, like Steve Frogley, from brushing your 6 pairs of skis X 35 other skiers on your team = bad back. Your aunt who has come to your races since you had LL Bean boot-strap-on-skis has an overuse injury in her left elbow from shaking a cowbell. Parents? Oh? You’ve had enough? I can stop now, but I was just warming up. Oh, ok.
Good. Now start. Now go.
Worried about the course still?
Not from around here? Think Mid-A has the edge on you as they seem to be cathartically enjoying the insanity hill workout? They do love their hills, next year you can join them for a little race they do called Climb to the Castle. Up Whiteface. Anyway, you have nothing to fear. Wherever you go, there you are. This is just you, at a ski race. That’s it. Just you at a very important ski race, with other very good skiers, but it is still the same you that earned the right to be here. You all have the same climbs, turns and decent to navigate. More Neanderthal. Less worry. Think simple.
Need a plan?
Go. Hop skate up flagpole hill, give the volunteer lead blocking wayward pedestrians for you a crisp high five. Climb now, nice and steady just this side of upchuck right to the tippy top. Then, put those countless hours of technical training around off cadence corners into play. Tuck. Step the corners. Deep breaths. Draft a little and nestle yourself right back into your personal, portable pain cave.
No rest till Brooklyn, or in your case, until Sunday. It’s Go time.
Simply qualifying for the 2017 Junior National championships means the time all the people spent supporting you, near and far, is time well spent. Before you know it this week will be a blip on your skiing radar. So, stop looking for rest. Put your finger back in your glove, and put your glove back into your strap. Unleash the beast.
You belong here. You earned it. This is Lake Placid, home of champions. Be one.
Amy Cheney-Seymour is a freelance writer who lives in Vermontville, New York.