March 4, 2014
I have had writer’s block for weeks now. It’s hard to transform my experiences in Sochi into words. I feel like I won’t be able to pay the experience justice. Part of it is a feeling of being overwhelmed and the other part is being so incredibly tired that, the other day, I actually used the analogy of, “I feel as though a semi-truck ran over my face.”
The cumulative physical and emotional fatigue from the Games is more impacting than I expected it to be and although I slept well on our mountain-top in the Endurance Village, I have since taken some coma-like naps upon leaving Russia. This says something because those that know me know that I don’t nap. Ever.
Going into Sochi there was undoubtedly a lot of pressure on the Cross Country team to bring home the first medal since 1972 and the second medal in Olympic history. Leading up to the Games, Kikkan proved time and time again that she is the best skate sprinter in the World and our women’s 4x5k relay team has had a couple of podium performances in the past calendar year. As Americans, we’re optimists by nature and we work incredibly hard. We wanted to bring home a medal, we wanted to make history. It just didn’t happen.
Our team’s experience in Sochi demonstrated just how fickle a sport like Cross Country skiing truly is. When success is defined by medals, in order to bring one home it has to be literally the perfect storm. One must have a good body, good skis, good feelings, and good fortune. When one part of the equation is off or missing, results are magnified at the World Cup level and, in a split second, it’s easy to fall from 1st to 18th or 29th to 47th. Maybe the snow was too soft for a powerful skier’s style, perhaps there was a tiny tactical mistake. It’s hard to boil it down to any one thing.