Thursday, March 5, 2015


Post-race bliss.
My daughter, Rosie, is 10.  Last winter, she joined the local race team up at Cannon mountain.  Up until then, she'd been skiing with their Junior Development program, which is a ski school for kids who come up on a seasonal basis.  It's an incredible program and she learned a ton, but it's nowhere near as intense as the racing team.  Not by a long shot.  At FSC (Franconia Ski Club), not only were the physical demands significantly more intense, but she also had to navigate the new social scene, which is not always easy for a 9 year old.  In time, Rosie settled in and she seemed to be really enjoying her new environment.  Which, as a parent, is all you can ask for.  Right?  When she raced, however, she would take it nice and easy, making sure to hit every gate, gliding through the finish and finishing, how do I put this delicately, dead f***ing last every time.  Except once, when she finished second to last.  Regardless, she held her head up high and kept smiling, so my husband and I assumed it wasn't really bothering her which meant it shouldn't be bothering us.  Though, I do have to admit, when you're sitting there cheering on your kid who's getting up at the crack of dawn and working her tail off every single week-end and you're not seeing any progress, you do start to wonder.  Such a fine line there.  Anyway, we consistently gave her positive support and feedback and we just didn't worry about the scoreboard.  And, by the end of the season, we found ourselves saying, well, maybe she'll get more into it next year.  Or, maybe not.  And that's okay, too.  Fast forward to this winter.  Rosie turned 10 in November which bumped her up to the U12 race bracket, making her the youngest kid in her group.  Not ideal.  Some of these kids are over 2 years older than her and have been racing since they were 6 and Rosie is still a spring chicken and a young one at that.  After the first race, Rosie and I were chatting before bed about how it went.  She looked at me with a straight face and said, "Mom, those girls are really good and they are way faster than me."  Oh boy.  She was clearly very aware of this situation.  And she was right.  And she's 10, so I wasn't going to lie to her.  I think I said something like, "hang in there, Rosie.  You're one of the youngest members of your crew and they have a lot more experience under their belts.  Just keep working hard and staying positive and you'll get there when you're ready."  So she did just that.  She went to practice every day, ready to work and learn and, thankfully, continuning to have fun.  In her first race she finished around 60th place out of 90 skiers which might as well have been top 10.  She was thrilled and we were thrilled for her.  She was making progress and she could feel the difference.  Each race she did...pretty good.  Not last.  Usually the bottom third.  But not last.  And she was always pretty happy with that.  Though, I got the sense that she knew where she stood compared to her teammates and while she seemed to shrug it off, that it was maybe starting to bother her a little bit more.
Going for it.
Again, Jeff and I ignored the scoreboard and gave her positive feedback and encouragement whenever possible.  Last week-end was the NHARA finals for the U12 girls.  A last hoorah, if  you will.  Our whole family packed it up and headed over to Cranmore Mountain to cheer her on.  She had 4 runs to get through, 2 GS and 2 slalom.  She took her first run much like she always did, carefully hitting each gate and looking solid, but without much gusto.  I met her at the bottom and she excitedly asked me what place she was in.  I told her not to worry about it, that she did great and she should be really proud of herself.  But, she dug in.  "No mom, I want to know what place I'm in".  I tried to hold tight.  "Rosie, you don't need me to pull up the results online.  Just glance up at the scoreboard and you'll get a sense of where you stand."  Not good enough.  "Mom, just look up my place!"  So I did.  "Okay, Rosie, you're in 60th out of 70 girls."  She nodded and said she was going to head down and get something to eat.  And then she was off.  She was quiet all through lunch and I could tell her wheels were spinning.  As a coach, I wanted to get involved, to give her a pep talk, but as her mom, I wasn't 100% sure what she needed or what she wanted to hear.  Finally, right before her second run we had a chat, initiated by her, I should add:
Rosie: Mom, I really want to break 60 seconds this run.  (her first run was a 1:04)
Me: I really think you can do that, kiddo.
Rosie: It's weird.  I felt like I could do it all season and now I can't.
---> insert deep breath
Me: Rosie, you're a beautiful skier.  And you're an awesome athlete.  And you'll always do well.  But, if you want to get out there and be faster, you have to get a little hungrier and be willing to take some risks.  You don't have to to do that today.  But when you're ready, that's going to make the difference.  You have to want it just a little more.  You know what I mean?
Rosie: Yeah.  I think so.
---> the coaches called them out at this point
Me: Good luck, Rosie!  Go get 'em.  Have fun.
Rosie: See ya.
She didn't break 60 seconds her second run.  But she went for it.  She came down looking like a different skier.  A little less cautious.  A little more hungry.  She crossed the line in 1:02.  Which was awesome.  Because the second run, which is always slightly different from the first, was clearly a slower run for most of the racers, which meant that Rosie had improved on a harder course which bumped her up 20 places for that run and put her in 40th.  It was a big improvement for her.  And she knew it.  She felt it.  I could see it when I met her at the finish.  "Holy crap, kiddo.  What did you do?" I asked.  "I went faster", she said excitedly.  "No kidding", I laughed.  She then went on to tell me that she'd thought about it while she was at the top waiting to go and, while she'd been a little scared, she decided it was worth it to try to ski it differently, to see what she could do.  Hot damn, I thought.  She hugged me and skied of to who knows where, because it didn't matter.   The next day, she took that positive mojo and applied it to her slalom runs.  Again, she went for it.  And, again, she improved.  And, yes, again, she was thrilled.  She ended up in 34th out of about 70 racers, which might as well have been first place for her.  In the end, Rosie got two valuable lessons, while I got two important reminders.  First, if you want things to change, you've got to be willing to step outside your comfort zone and go for it, regardless of what the outcome might be and second, improvement, of any kind, is pretty damn awesome.  Thanks, Rosie.  I needed those as much as you did.

Proud mom, happy kid!

Listen to this:
Lean On - Major Lazer 

1 comment:

  1. I love this. So much. Way to go Rosie, and way to go Mom for setting an amazing example.