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Transitioning from the life of a professional athlete to the “regular” world can be challenging. Given the heroic number of training hours professional cross-country skiers put in, they may even have a harder time of it than other athletes.
Former U.S. team member, Sadie Maubet Bjornsen, has met those challenges head on using the same philosophy she used as a racer: a steady, methodical approach combined with understanding her goals and personal limitations.
As an athlete, Maubet Bjornsen had to conquer difficult challenges. Due to an allergic reaction from an antibiotic she took in her teens, she was prone to tendon injuries and had to find unconventional training methods to keep herself on skis. She has adopted a similar approach to life after skiing, balancing career, parenting, and yes, still getting out on skis.
FasterSkier caught up with Maubet Bjornsen in her home in Anchorage, Alaska to find out what the two time Olympian and 11 time World Cup medalist was up to — as it turns out, quite a bit.
The biggest recent development in Maubet Bjornsen’s life is that she’s a new mother. Four months ago, she gave birth to a boy, Emil. Her husband, Jo, is French, and they plan to raise their child in a bilingual household that will provide unique challenges for Maubet Bjornsen since she isn’t a French speaker. “I’ve been trying to learn French for 12 years, and I’ve always had something else that I’m studying,” she said. “I’ll be motivated to speak the language, otherwise, they’ll have their own secret language!”
Along with recent motherhood, Maubet Bjornsen has also had significant professional changes in her life. When she was still skiing professionally, she also maintained a bookkeeping business. Recognizing her appreciation of numbers and problem solving, she pursued a double degree at APU (Alaska Pacific University) in accounting and non-profit business management. She studied for her CPA exams while still racing professionally.
She is currently a wealth manager at an Alaskan firm and is contemplating additional certifications in that field. In a few months she will receive her CPA certification; she sees a long term future in the world of finance. “I went from full blown skier to full blown next part of life.”
Having a demanding career makes for a tough life-work balance, but Maubet Bjornsen has taken lessons from skiing to balance her work life. “I’m doing the hard grind now, but it’s just like when I first started at APU and didn’t know at first how I was going to do it all,” she said. “As a skier, I always prioritized other things going on as well as skiing. I wasn’t the best version of myself when I focused on only one thing … I definitely have utilized that approach. I made sure I had something else to think about.”
The tables have turned for Maubet Bjornsen where athletics are now her distraction from work. “I live right on the ski trails and rip a lap from 6-7 a.m. then go to work,” she said. “Now that’s going to be even more challenging with a kid.”
She keeps in touch with her former teammates and regularly skis with Kikkan Randall and Holly Brooks. “It’s been one of my saving graces.”
She continued to race “recreationally” her first winter after retiring from World Cup, traveling to Wisconsin for the Birkebeiner, and taking with her a new attitude. “I didn’t really care whether I was winning the race,” she said. “I just loved going to races still, I still just loved being able to ski race, and I have Holly and Kikkan to thank for that.”
Racing in retirement had other challenges. “I wasn’t even sure I could ski 50k,” she commmented. “I didn’t race 50K, I retired before men and women raced the same distances. But it was so fun … I bonked so hard, but it was so so fun.”
Brooks and Randall were both great role models for Maubet Bjornsen of how to handle being a new mother. “Post-partum body recovery is very similar to injury recovery as an athlete,” she said. “You have to be more patient than you want to be … I thought it was going to be a quicker recovery.” She has also learned that with being a new mom comes a new reality. She’s gone from training four hours a day as an athlete, to one hour a day when she started working full time, to now as a new mother, appreciating any time she can get. “I have to accept success with only getting in 20 minutes.”
In addition to all of her other commitments Maubet Bjornsen still maintains a relationship with Fischer skis as a brand ambassador for the company. “Fischer supported me throughout my whole career,” she comments. “And I love to find ways to give back to them. Their whole theme is ‘ski for life,’ I raced Fischer at the Birkie, so I still support them.”
Join FasterSkier in days to come for Part II of Catching Up with Sadie.