We’re the first to admit that a focus on results and not the process has major pitfalls. There were many great outcome goals this season, we know these as the results: Frida Karlsson’s reel-in of distance skiing’s white whale — Therese Johaug — comes to mind. This time of year we often ruminate on great performances, and they categorically revolve around results. Top-20s, top-10s, podiums — you get the drift.
Whether through the camera lens, the keyboard, or the microphone, this much is true: It’s easier to capture podiums and what we consider traditional forms of success than it is disappointment. And by disappointment we mean the institutions hellbent on a formula of medals=success and being left with something less. Or the sad occurrence when an athlete feels they let a community down after a Herculean effort, but were “pack-fill”. How’s that for a dehumanizing term?
We wanted to reshare a few standout moments that relate to the ski tracks but encompass a broader community. Well-being, self-esteem, a person’s self-worth should not be equated with results. The following highlighted written pieces reflect this ethos.
First a shout out to Jessie Diggins, who helped pave the way for open and honest discussions about how to treat the self, and more broadly, each athlete, with dignity.
Piggy backing on the title of Diggins’ book, we wanted to celebrate some others who were brave enough.
Katharine Ogden wrote a straight-up earnest piece about her struggles with an anxiety disorder. Ogden is a student at Dartmouth College and raced in several World Cup this season including the Tour de Ski.
Once the WJC races were over, I was exhausted. By the end of January, I was no longer racing or training at all. I declined all of the trips I had planned on doing for the rest of the winter and completely succumbed to my anxiety. I spent weeks barely leaving my bed before I finally got up the combination of courage and desperation that it took to make my first appointment with my psychiatrist, Dr. Stanger. She explained to me that I could learn to manage the feelings of terror I felt, and she gave me a prescription for anxiety medication that almost immediately changed my life. Before meeting Dr. Stanger I didn’t believe that things were going to get better for me. I didn’t think that I would ever be strong enough again to go to college or continue ski racing. — Katharine Ogden
Hailey Swirbul wrote a piece called “U23 WORLDS: IN DEFENSE OF SMALL VICTORIES,” for the National Nordic Foundation in which she ruminated on her own struggles and cherished moments. You can read that article here. Swirbul broke through on the World Cup this season and is a member of the U.S. Ski Team.
2016 was that period for me. My parents found me help for my relationship with food and my body and self. I learned how to treat my own self with the values I wanted to treat others: kindness, dedication, respect. I figured out what I loved about skiing and why I was sure I wanted to keep doing it, and at the base of those reasons was nothing to do with results. I wanted to develop a lifelong love of sport and outdoors, for example. Or learn how to manage relationships with teammates that I might not choose to be my best friends. Or develop relationships with teammates that inevitably would become my best friends. Heck, I’d even consider my First-JNs-Dance-Kiss a reason to continue the sport!!! — Hailey Swirbul
Another gem comes from social media, Instagram to be exact. Kendall Kramer wrote a post after the 2020 World Junior Championships. It’s another stand out performance in terms of putting words down and celebrating the big picture. We are re-posting her full IG post with permission. Kramer hails from Fairbanks, Alaska and is a member of the U.S. Ski Team’s development team. She’s also a keen student, and by her own admission, a regular teenager.
It’s easy to highlight the “good” and hide the “bad”. For celebration and sharing american pride, I’ll post that my amazing American relay team got 2nd in the junior world championships yesterday. But that’s not what I’m most proud about this season. There was a lot of expectation for me to take my individual 4th place last year and make it into a podium. That was the “logical” step. But I didn’t realize what it was costing me to do that. This year I started dreading training- I would nearly cry when I had to go out the door to do it because I used to go so intensely that one mishap or thing not going as planned in training would make my brain feel like it was on fire from the stress of not doing everything perfect, making being an athlete a chore and not a choice anymore. That high strung brain is what made me so focused and “successful” last year, but it was obviously not sustainable. So, I got 22nd and 24th in my races this year, but I had to take a step back afterwords and realize I am representing the United States of America at the world championships, and be proud of myself for getting out of this very tough summer with a healthier mindset. The number by my name on the results sheet isn’t as low this year but I’m more proud of myself than ever, just as a person. Thank you to all my friends and family who consistently hype me up for just being me and not asking about results, that helps me more than you know💘 #USA — Kendall Kramer