Whoa! What are those for? Cool as! If you think you get crazy looks as you rollerski in North America, try rollerskiing through the streets of New Zealand. Sometimes little kids come out of their homes to watch us in our rollerski pick-ups, so we get them to help us out by making them the official â€˜starters’ of our speeds.
While most collegiate skiers have been spending the fall training with their teams, there are several of us who have spent the last five months studying, travelling, and training down-under. We are fortunate enough to have coaches who have allowed us to study abroad, while still competing for our teams this winter (Katie Ronsee goes to school at Denver University, and Heather Zimmerman attends UNH).
The incredible skiing and people at the Snow Farm made the four-hour drive from the University of Otago well worth it every winter weekend. It was also very motivating to see familiar faces in August when the US ski team arrived. We were lucky enough to get some invaluable technique help from coaches Matt Whitcomb, Pat Casey, and Abi Holt. Aside from on-snow training, New Zealand offers endless trails for running, mountains to climb, beaches to surf, and rainforests to discover. Exploring the country and kiwi culture has brought us caving, bungee jumping, beach combing, and penguin scouting, in addition to staying at sheep farms, enjoying rugby, and introducing us to some laid-back kiwi mates.
Training without a coach and team can be intimidating and is not always convenient with busy schedules, but we continue to make it happen. We’ve learned that video recorders from small digital cameras work fine for video analysis, narrow roads can be rollerskied in the early mornings, and steep hills can be descended by either running or hitchhiking. Not only did we make the training happen, but we also made our budgets work. This was evident in our soggy hands after doing daily dishes at the Snow Farm, teaching school kids how to ski and sleeping in our sleeping bags more than in beds. One night, a result of having set up camp in the dark, led to an interesting experience of being awoken by children’s voices claiming â€œHey! You can’t camp here, this is school!â€
After studying abroad, we’ve learned that as long as determination is present, it’s possible to put in quality training while still enjoying life to its fullest.