Let me clarify, a failed paragliding takeoff is a bit more of a life or death situation than failing to succeed in sport. I'm pictured here with my tandem flying guide (Thomas Weber from Joyride Paragliding ) on a recent paragliding flight over Davos. With a mere sheet of fabric behind us, I was prepared to take off from the ski area at Jakobshorn. My instructions for take-off? Run when I say run. '3-2-1, RUN!' As we began running (we're strapped together), the sail lifted behind us and I just kept running. Off the side of a mountain and magically lifting into the air. And I just kept running. To the point where we had taken off, we're now flying and I was still running. My feet running in the air like a dog that's been lifted out of water and just keeps doggy paddling. Maybe it was a bit overkill, but I wasn't accepting a failed takeoff. The slow-motion perspective of flying was that of what a bird would experience. No sound from a motor or propellors, just the taste of clouds and the sound of the wind. An incredible experience.
I’ve just returned from Oberhof, Germany with the SAS ProTeam! After pushing one another through many different limits and training hard, it’s time for a few days of rest and recovery. The time in the tunnel can be tedious and monotonous, but I surprised myself at how productive the time felt and quickly it elapsed. I was able to focus a lot on technique and get the feeling for snow underfoot.
Our team is gaining momentum with every training camp we do together and it is special to be apart of. Our Crowdfunding project (raising money to subsidise coaching costs) has been running well, but we could use your support! We’re currently sitting at 62% of our total and will only receive the donations if we reach our minimum goal of CHF 10’000.- This team project has brought us together in a lot of ways, and I’m really enjoying the energy from such a multi-faceted team. We come from Sweden, Estonia, Canada and primarily Switzerland, and all have incredible backgrounds of experience and are looking to shoot for the moon this season.
We drove back from Germany on Monday, and the minivan that we were rippin’ in (averaging 150km/h on the Autobahn and still getting schooled) wasn’t necessarily the smoothest ride or accommodating for conversation. Headphones were a good fix and I listened to an archived TED Talk ‘Failure is an Option’. Failure. A heavy word, and as a ski racer can be a hard one to deal with when, more often than not, failure isn’t based on effort and measured by a result. Making a team or not, qualifying or not, winning or losing. Failure in sport is well defined. Yet having not failed doesn't get you success either. I can't tell you the amount of times I've laid out a perfect plan, trusted it, believed in myself and done good work, only to come up short or failing all together. But so what? The mere chance that there might be success on the other side of the failure is enough to pick yourself up again, take the lessons in and risk it over and over again. In a sport where an incredible amount of work is required and everyone is busting their butts off to give their best, committing and trusting what your doing is paramount.
As I haven't written since the summer, the happenings of September went as follows: Nordic Weekend in Andermatt (highlighted by a second place finish in the 3km Skate Prologue), an intensity camp in Goms in the stunning canton of Wallis (included trips up Furka and Nufenen passes) and a visit from my boyfriend, Keith. We headed to Porto Ceresio in Italy to recover and enjoy some Italian cuisine and time together!
The hard work of September is laying a solid base to be built upon as we tune up for winter in October. The snow in Flüelatal is being spread out as we speak and I am looking forward to coming back to training with fully charged batteries. To finish off on my reflections from paragliding from above - failure IS an option. I could totally fail with what I’m doing. I may not qualify for the Olympics. I may not score any World Cup points or achieve my lofty goals. But so what? I know there are no guarantees and as I go into my last fall season as an athlete and soon to be my last racing season. I want to leave it all out there. I want to know that I did everything in my career possible; experimented, learned, failed, worked hard, succeeded, explored and risked. I want to be able to say with pride that I did everything that my time and energy afforded me to become the best athlete possible. And when I get to the start line of any race, I trust that that will be enough.
But what if I fail? Oh but my darling, what if you fly?
- Eric Hanson