Fast and Female

Marie Claire flying high

 

Sarah2Sarah2

                                                      Sarah Creasor competing for Guelph University (Photo: Gord Kerr)

Last year I started University, and had not planned on skiing.
For a bit of background I started skiing at age 6 and I raced all through elementary and high school, with some club skiing, and O Cup races mixed in there. I was always someone who struggled with nerves and pressures of racing….mostly self-induced haha. So the thought of racing at a university level was not that appealing to me when graduating high school. I took a year off between high school and university…this year consisted of NO sport specific training. I was still fairly active but nothing that would prep me for a year of university ski racing.
 
When I got to university, my sister happened to be in her last year there and on the ski team. I wanted some active people in my life to train with, but still wasn’t going to race. My sister, Erin, encouraged me to come out to some practices and just have fun. So that’s what I did. One thing I’ve always loved about the ski community is the openness and how nice everyone is. The Guelph Nordic team didn’t disappoint. When deciding between two teams, it was the atmosphere of the ski team that won me over.
 
Sarah racing at Ontario Cup in Duntroon. Her sister Erin cheering from the side.Sarah racing at Ontario Cup in Duntroon. Her sister Erin cheering from the side. 
 
So after over a year of basically not training, I jumped head first into training. It was difficult at times trying to get my head back into school and skiing, being new to university, and not very fit. They both had their own struggles. I ended up with shin splints in the fall, so had to take things easy for awhile…just what my race season needed.
 
So by the time I got to racing I was not feeling at peak performance and had some not so hot races. But I went through the season and had improvements every race. I started out at the back of the team…unsurprisingly. But the, I guess you could call it most impacting race, was at our OUA race (University Championships).
 
It was the last of 3 days of racing, neither day being ideal conditions so some added adversity…cause who doesn’t like that!?! Movie moment….wake up the 3rd day the sun’s out, it’s not too hot or too cold, skis are fast and we have a pretty fun course to race on. I was warming up and when normally I’d be stupidly nervous, I had my nerves in control. I did my own thing to get warmed up but I felt ready to race…finally! The race was a pursuit and I was closer to the end of our team to start…but not so far back that it would be impossible to catch up over 10kms - hopefully.
That was my goal, catch my teammates and we’d ski together.
 
Everybody has heard it at one point of another from your coaches, don’t base goals off results of other people, everybody has good and bad days.
 
Being able to adapt your plans mid race can also be interesting. When skiing as a group didn’t end up working, I kept trying to pick off people in front of me. It was going pretty well, this one girl (a Sarah as well), and I were fighting back and forth for the last about 3kms of the race. It was tough but we motivated each other and at one point I had the thought, “this is racing….this is what it should be like”, and I was having fun!
 
I finished that race on a huge high. I felt amazing and couldn’t think of many places that I could have pushed it harder. To top it off when the results were posted, I ended up being 2nd to finish on my team. That was great, and very unexpected but, what I was most happy about was how much time I had managed to cut off my races throughout my season. When I started I was many minutes off Guelph’s top skier(s) and even farther behind the rest of the competition. I was only about 1 minute off Guelph’s top that day. I ended up 24th in the pursuit. When racing against the National Development Centre from Thunder Bay and the rest of the high level university skiers, 24th was looking better and better all the time. For those of you who aren’t familiar with NDC while most university skiers put school first then skiing, most of these skiers have skiing as a first priority.
 
This race made me realize just what you can accomplish if you want it, and to never count yourself out of a race, or a season.