One Frosty Ski RaceEarlier this winter, I remember racing one of my first cross country ski races. There were challenges along the way, but I pushed through it. I remember the race as though it happened yesterday...
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The landscape was covered with a white blanket, one that suffocated everything around it. It was an hour or so before my cross country ski race in Jay, and my team was about to head out for our warm up. I noticed there were a few gentle snowflakes dancing in the wind about us, but I paid them no heed. I had a race to win.
I was little nervous I would be too tired to ski the three kilometer race due to lack of sleep, but as soon as we started skiing our warm up, I felt right at home. The first kilometer was a breeze, and soon I was well on my way to the second. Still, I was a little let down by the fact that the entire group was already out of sight having skied around the next bend.
I knew my entire team, coaches, and father were cheering me on, so I tried to keep up with my team the best I could. My coach’s husband helped me tremendously, as he would ski with me when the group was nowhere to be seen, which gave me spirit. When I was almost finished the warm up, one moment I was skiing up the hardest hill, and the next, I was falling.
My wrist flared with pain. “Ouch! My left wrist!” I exclaimed. “I—I don’t think I can get up.”
“Just try. When does it hurt?” my coach, Caroline, asked.
“Whenever I twist it, bend it, or apply pressure to it,” I replied, trying and failing to get into a standing position. After the first few tries, Caroline helped me up.
“Baby steps, baby steps,” She soothed, keeping me calm. Heeding her advice, I took tiny steps up the steep slope. It took me awhile, but finally I made it to the top where my team was waiting.
Caroline then asked an adult, Heather, if she would ski with me. She agreed and the group once again faded into the distance. With a little encouragement from Heather, I made it back to where Caroline was waiting for me. She had come out to meet me when I came down the small hill at the end of the course.
“Your wrist okay, Kayla?” She looked worried.
“I think so,” I replied. Caroline then skied back to where the team was waiting, and I tried to ski over to them, but fell halfway there and couldn’t get up.
“Do you need help?” My coach asked, gliding gracefully over to me. I nodded in answer. She helped me take off my skis and we made our way over to our team.
My dad was there, waiting for me. “Are you alright, Kayla? I heard you had fallen on your wrist or something.” Worry was etched into his face.
I tried to keep my voice steady. “I’m fine, Dad.” To my dismay, I found my voice cracking, and my cheeks were wet. He soothed me, and we walked back to the group, where everyone checked up on me, asking if I was okay.
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“It’s really up to you. Still, if you really want to race, you should at least try using your pole on the first kilometer. You might need it.” I heeded his advice and carefully strapped my wrist into my pole strap.
“Are you sure you want to race, Kayla?” My father asked. “You don't have to, you know.”
“I know, Dad, I'll be fine.” It was just about time for the race to start and some teams were already lining up. I filed into place with the others and prepared myself for the upcoming race.
Before I knew it, I was up next. Five four... three... two... one... and I was off, like Dorothy to Netherland. The beginning of the race was difficult for me, as the other racers in my heat were already way further along the racecourse than I was. Still, I kept at it, and pretty soon I was halfway done the first kilometer. Around that time, skier number 57 passed me, saying I was doing great. That was sort of depressing, as I was number 47, but it still gave me heart.
It was by some miracle I made it through the first third of the race in one piece. When I arrived at the downhill section where I went through the crowd once more, I threw my pole, (the left one), towards where my coach was. I wouldn’t be needing that anytime soon, what with my wrist the way it was.
Around the second kilometer mark was when I started to get a little desperate. It was tough going, and it didn’t help that I had to keep stopping to wipe my glasses off with my shirt, for what little snow was falling was freezing there. Every time I came to a hill, I would stop at the bottom of each hill and wonder if it was the one I fell on.
It wasn’t until near the end of the race when I realised I hadn’t come to the hill yet. Then... I saw it, a steep curve winding up the trail, and then straightening out once more. The hill glistened, taunting me, begging me almost to fall, and I almost did a few times, but I pushed through it.
At the top of the hill a boy passed me. I hadn’t even realised they had started the boys’ race yet! It didn’t get to me, though. I was going to finish that race, and I was going to finish fighting.
Caroline’s husband was waiting for me near the final downhill. I let his cheers fill my spirit up once more, and I pushed as hard as I could towards the finish line. My skis were taking me so fast, it felt as if I was flying, and then it was over. I had done it, and surprisingly I didn’t feel that tired.
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After that race, I remember everyone was asking how my arm was and how I managed to finish the race with only one pole. I merely smiled in reply, thinking it wasn’t such a big deal as they all made it out to be. It was amazing to see how much people cared about me.