2014 Chronicles Part I: Qualifying for the Canadian Olympic Team

Giving Emily Nishikawa a much deserved hug after she crushed the field in the 10km Classic race. This photo only starts to describe the pride I feel for all my teammates. Credit: Gaby Munz with Buff Canada

The emotional rollercoaster of the last few weeks finally feels like it’s in the passenger reload area. All of the excited theme park guests are getting off the ride, exhausted but stoked that they just survived that ride. Some may even jump right back in the line for another dose of the ride! The week of Olympic Trials, January 8-12, were the deciding races for the final spots available for the Canadian Olympic Team. Needless to say, there was a lot of excitement, pressure and passion surrounding the events. 
Chandra Crawford and I just havin' a good time in the A final. Credit: Angus Cockney
Imagining the spirit of the games, the passion in the stadium and being immersed in such energy is what gives me goose bumps when I’m out training in the days, months and years leading up to the Olympics. The thoughts and dreams of representing Canada at the Games have been frequent flyers in my dreams since I was just an awkward little girl and have only become stronger in recent weeks. I would often find myself completely wrapped up in a daydream. I’d have to remind myself to bring it back to the moment. ‘Chop wood, carry water’. Focusing on the step-by-step process and attention to the moment is how I would make the most out of every breath, every training session, and every race.
About to start the 10km classic Credit: Gaby Munz with Buff Canada
After winning the sprint race last Saturday – I knew I had secured my spot on the Olympic team. Wait – did I just write that? I guess it’s still sinking in. Crossing the finish line first is never just about one person. With the support and encouragement I’ve had, you’d think I was a soldier heading off for war. I guess it is somewhat of a battlefield out there – but let’s not get extreme. In terms of support, my family is hands down the best safety net I have! After finishing my race, I tried to channel whatever remaining energy I had towards my brother, Phil, who had won the qualifier earlier in the day and was about to take to the battlefield (sorry, getting extreme again) in the men’s A final. Skiing so strong and with such passion, Phil finished second in an extremely talented men’s field. In the moment, it was crushing. But I never once lost an ounce of respect or doubted his ability. My ‘little sister admiration’ gene will never disappear and only continues to grow as I watch and understand how my brother has dealt with the disappointment and taken away the positives. He fought, he risked and he enjoyed it all. That is all we can ever ask of ourselves.
Big bro dominating the climb Credit: Angus Cockney

Canadian Olympic team! Well, most of it. L-R Chandra Crawford, myself, Emily Nishikawa, Len Valjas, Graeme Killick, Jess Cockney Credit: CCC
The days following the Olympic Trials, I was exhausted but kept awake by the lingering adrenalin. It felt like a bittersweet mixture of excitement, pride and gratitude. Excited for the opportunity I have ahead of me, so proud of the multitude of outstanding performances (shout out to EmNish, Jess, Gkill, Brian and Ammar) and grateful that I am able to pursue my dreams. I’m packing up my bags now and will head to Austria tomorrow for a few days of training in Seefeld before Under 23 Championships in Val di Fiemme. I’ve been given the opportunity to start a World Cup in nearby Tolbach, Italy that I am so excited to take advantage of. After the Italian experience, I will board a plane headed to Sochi for a whole other level of adventure!
Focusing on my penmanship at the Altadore Elementary School Olympic team announcement. Credit: CCC
Of course it will never be enough, but a sincere ‘thank-you’. To my family, my friends, teammates, teachers, sponsors, competitors, coaches, supporters, Mother Nature and even my enemies (which include my negative conscience and the fruit flies in my house right now, but they’ve taught me patience). This journey is just beginning so let’s hop back on that rollercoaster.
A little jumping action post-lunch at the Juniper Hotel in Banff. Thanks for hosting! 

Celebrating the New Year on Spray Lake with Brent followed up with a stay at Mount Engadine Lodge. Not only did he go skating with me, but he believed in me too.

My support network.
How do you celebrate 2014 in style? With cheese fondue, gluehwein, hockey and family. In the mountains. Out at Lake Minniwanka. Happy Birthday to my bro-to-be Lp!