Ski Mountaineering World Championships: Breathe deep and hope for the best

One of the main reasons I planned on spending a full ski season in Europe this winter was to be well prepared for the 2013 World Championships. It’s an amazing week of events that happens every second year and gathers the best Ski Mountaineer racers from all around the globe. No need to say that since we last travelled here in 2011, my focus has been on getting ready physically and mentally for the events. With very active summers and falls and feeling quite prepared before leaving in January, a thought occurred to me upon our departure. What if for some reason I wake up the day of the big race and I am not feeling good or coming down with a virus?! Would I find it in me to still smile at the end of the day? Realistically, we can only have control over our preparation to sporting events but when it comes down to it, there’s so much that’s left for the universe to decide. With that in mind, I realized that all the amazing training days I have put out there whether it was road biking in strong wind, roller skiing in the rain, mountain biking in the mud or deep powder skiing, these days were far more rewarding then any medals. True, having a successful World Champ would sure be the cherry on the cake but would not make the whole thing wrong if missing.

Well I guess the universe wanted to test how much I believed in my statements as I came down with a nasty virus on the 1st day of the second World Cup on January 26th, 2013. Then I was thinking I would be better by the time the World Champs kicked off February 9th-15th. Unfortunately the virus was back one week before the start of the events, and it turned out to be bronchitis all along…. try to race with that?! The best description would be like running with someone pressing on your chest while having blocks of concrete attached to your ankles. Fun! Needless to say that the 4 events I took part in were probably the most challenging mentally of my life. I knew also each step was getting me further from full recovery. I still managed to place 9th in the sprint and 14th in the individual which is respectable but not really what I was dreaming of.

World Cup Relay, 6th place. Photo credit: ISMF

At first completely demolished both physically and mentally, it took me a couple of days off to wash it all away. Then a thought came to mind as I was looking at Mt Blanc shining from our kitchen window. All the training days, all the efforts and all that time and commitment… were they for the medals and placing I did not get? The answer was a big NO! They were from my true love and passion for the sports that I do. They were from my commitment to pushing my own limits on a weekly basis. They were from the love of exploring new zones and reaching new summits. In the end, those passions brought me here to the Alps and so it was time to shake it off with some rewarding soul skiing to find the passion back!

Eventually health came back slowly but the level of happiness reached its highest.

I have learnt that setbacks and obstacles are being put on our path for a reason. Maybe to challenge our personal statements, maybe to help us realize the true reason we are doing things. Now time to go explore, race some more and reach new heights on podium steps maybe but for sure on European summits!

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