I have long since turned in my final race bib for the season, but the spring weather and activities have kept me well distracted from sitting down at a computer. After the Engadine Marathon at the beginning of March, I raced at the Swiss National Championships in Berner Oberland, the final Swiss Cup in Langis and then travelled back to Canada for the month of April for my first visit since last summer.
The weekend of racing at the Swiss National Championships played to all of my strengths. Blue skies, panorama mountain views and three skate races were the perfect fit for me and I did my best to capitalise on this opportunity. Previously at this time of year, I would be lining up to race the best in Canada like I have for the past twelve years of my life, but continuing my recent theme of changing rhythms, it was an incredible experience to race as a Swiss (Canadian) national at Swiss Nationals. Coming away from the weekend with a silver in the sprint, bronze in the 30km mass start and silver in the relay was a satisfying end to my first season racing for Switzerland. Sharing the podium with Nathalie von Siebenthal and Nadine Fähndrich on both sprint and 30k race days meant a lot to me too, as these girls pushed me and I tested their patience the entire training and racing season.
I officially wrapped up the season in Langis, with a skate sprint Swiss Cup the following weekend. Nadine cleaned up and won the Swiss Cup overall standings as well. I finished second overall on the Swiss Cup standings as well as in the final Swiss Cup. This leaves room for improvement for next year, but overall incredibly proud of where I finished my season.
There were many times throughout my training season where I couldn't see past the next corner without feeling overwhelmed. Learning (and still learning) a new language(s), culture, team and settling into a new life away from my family and the 'Canadian comforts' often felt like too much to handle. I then came into this race season expecting it to be difficult and scary. I know that there were a lot of races where I was skiing from a point of fear rather than confidence. There also seemed to be more emotion tied to each race and unnecessary pressure that I put on myself. There were a lot of post race tears and frustration, and even some tears and frustration as I warmed up. This fear, contrasted with the excitement and fulfilment from the highs of accomplishing established goals made for an awesome ride this season. Posting my first World Cup points in Davos as well as another top 30 in World Cup in Planica, Slovenia were a few big highlights. Being part of the women's 4x World Cup relay team in the Czech Republic to finish in 8th place and mark the first Swiss women's team result since 2007 was another highlight. Finishing the season and starting to collect Swiss Championships medals was a great way to end the season and great fuel for the coming training season and earned me a nomination from C to B team status within the national team. Full team roster can be found here.
The spring sunshine continued on after the races were wrapped up as I headed back to Canada to visit family, my boyfriend and the Canadian Rockies. I was my first time in almost a year of being away from the Bow Valley and it was a welcomed visit. The adventures of the month took me on many ski touring, heli skiing, mountain biking, cross country skiing and mountain adventures. Before leaving for Canada, I was asked if I was going on vacation or visiting home. To which I answered, my life is a bit of a permanent vacation. Both Switzerland and Canada feel like a vacation and I'm grateful that my sense of 'home' travels with me wherever I go.
With this gratitude comes a lot of support and 'thank you's' to be extended. I would like to thank Salomon and Swix for the excellent equipment. Buff Canada for being a steadfast sponsor and amazing support team. Shades on Caribou, Selkirk Mountain Experience, Mike Wiegele Heli Skiing and the Banff Lodging Company for the continued support from Canada. Ticino Swiss-Italian Restaurant keeps me afloat and fuelled. My family and friends. In a weird way, I feel more connected than ever to my family even though I live across the ocean.
The training season will see the Swiss team in Magglingen, Scandinavia, Italy and Germany. The pavement is warming up and roller ski season is around the corner. It may not be as exciting as when the first snow flakes begin to fall before winter, but the possibility for improvement and opportunity are none the less incredible.