The last two weekends I had the opportunity to compete on the World Cup. As a professional skier, competing on the World Cup is the ultimate goal as it is the pinnacle of the sport. It’s always exhilarating moving from the Continental Cup to the World Cup. The atmosphere definitely changes. All of a sudden there are cameras, fans, and noise! I cherish these opportunities to compete against the best skiers in the world and I truly love being on this stage.
I remember when I first started competing on the Continental Cup when I was 17 years old. I experienced a lot of the feelings I now get on the World Cup. The pressure seems higher and the athletes are more talented. It’s kind of a shock to the system. When I was thrown into the Continental Cup I had my ass kicked at first. I remember it seeming impossibly hard. I would watch the best athletes and wish I could walk a day in their shoes at the front of the race. Over time though, I adjusted to the higher level of competition and I improved. I went from finishing in the 40’s and 50’s to finishing in the 30’s. Then I started finishing in the top 30. This year I have finished in the top 10 twice. This took years of hard work and it didn’t happen over night but I went from hardly being able to imagine finishing at the front to actually doing it.
Last season I got my first couple starts on the World Cup. It gave me flashbacks to when I was a seventeen-year-old kid stumbling around on the Continental Cup. It felt very familiar. This gave me hope. I knew that I just needed more experience and a little more training and I could be competitive at this level too.
Two weeks ago I competed in my first World Cup of this season. It took place in Chaux Neuve, France. Things did not go well and I knew I didn’t perform even close to my best. Once again, it felt like I didn’t belong. Luckily I had another chance in Seefeld, Austria the next weekend. I jumped better and I skied better. This lead to better results and a personal best 43rd place. I know 43 is a very high number but it is improvement. I finished about 45 seconds behind the top 30, which is closer than I have ever been. Everything seemed to slow down. This has me feeling very excited and optimistic. I am making progress!
The best part about the weekend in Seefeld, Austria was having some American fans to cheer the team on. Two of those fans happened to be my dad and uncle. On Saturday I was winning the jumping during the beginning of the round so I got to sit in the leaders box. My uncle hopped the fence, ran up, and gave me a hug. I’m pretty sure the whole scene was aired on EuroSport. It was an awesome moment. I feel very blessed to have a family that supports what I do.
I am back in Planica, Slovenia now training and getting prepared for my next shot on the World Cup. Two weeks from now I will travel to Lahti, Finland (The site of next seasons World Championships) and I’m looking forward to picking up where I left off. Four weeks in Europe down… Six weeks to go!