On November 10th I set a world record by becoming the youngest person in the world to run a marathon on all seven continents. A record set not for me, but in memory of my dad and the one in six men affected by prostate cancer. It was a dream that I envisioned at age ten and it took four years to achieve that dream. What do you do when you achieve your dream? You continue to chase more dreams.
The transition from completing my World Marathon Tour to returning to the snow for aerial skiing left me with little down time. Just weeks after returning from my marathon in Athens, Greece, I found myself staring upside-down at the snow covered ground from 30 feet in the air. After spending a year going off the singles ramp, I was now ready to do my first double flip on snow. As scary as it is, this progression from singles to doubles was a necessary step in chasing yet another dream of mine, the 2018 Winter Olympics. I hadn’t even begun to comprehend what it meant to have set a world record, realizing one dream. Now, I was already off chasing another dream. I am always in search of something bigger and better to accomplish.
In aerial skiing, they say going from a single ramp to a double ramp is one of the toughest things–mentally and physically–that an aerialist will ever do. The act of pointing my skis down the long path of snow that lead to the doubles ramp took tremendous courage. I knew that the longer I stood at the top of the hill, staring down at the 15 foot ramp, the more the thoughts of doubt, fear, and anxiety of failure would set in. In a matter of seconds, I went from intense fear standing at the top of the hill, to unexplainable relief landing safely at the bottom of the hill. There is no way to explain what it felt like to do my first single jump, let alone my first double jump.
This year’s aerial ski season was, without a doubt, full of challenges and rewards. Adding a new degree of difficulty to my jumps by doing doubles was exciting yet challenging. I had my ups and my downs, my good jumps and my bad jumps. Some jumps I landed on my feet, and other jumps I landed on my stomach or my back (not too pleasant when you fall from 30 feet in the air, no matter how soft the snow is). Did I ever give in, though? No! I believed and persevered and became the 2014 Jr. National Aerial Champion. Minutes after ascending the podium, I found myself sitting in the county library in my ski clothes. My face buried in a three-hour midterm exam for school. Not fun, but the reality of many of young athletes chasing Olympic dreams, like myself.
There was little sleep that night after Nationals. I had packing to do to catch a 7:00 a.m. flight to Italy. For the second year in a row I had made the Junior World Freestyle Team for the USA! Being surrounded by 350 of the best freestyle skiers who were 19 and under was an incredible experience. Despite our cultural difference, we all had one thing in common—we loved skiing! Although language was a huge barrier for many of us, a smile, a handshake, and a simple “hi” was exchanged between many of us. I brought home so many amazing memories, new friends and a fifth place podium for the U. S.
The ski boots are temporarily set aside. It will be the end of May before I stare down the steep ramp headed not to snow, but to water. I will then spend May through October perfecting new and more difficult aerial jumps. I will train hard and set new goals to chase down my Olympic dream. The comfort of my Newton’s are back on my feet and I am off and running. Running is not over just because I have reached one dream. I have a message to spread and awareness to raise. Plus, I use running to cross train to make me a better athlete.
Many have been asking me, “What’s next?” This June, I will be running in two amazing events. I will first head to Europe for the RopaRun, a great cancer fundraising relay spanning over 560 kilometers. I will run roughly 80 one-kilometer sprints from Hamburg to Rotterdam as one of eight runners. The relay will take more than 30 hours and it will take a team of 25 people to support us on this journey. The second event is with Adventure Science out of Canada. I’ve been invited on an exploration through the California Mountains at an elevation of roughly 10,000-12,000 feet. We will be in search of a crashed military plane from the 50s that has never been located. A team of endurance athletes and searchers will descend on the high Sierras to scour the rough and rugged terrain for any sign of this infamous jet in hopes of putting a mystery to rest once and for all. This adventure will be mentally and physically challenging, but what a privilege to be asked to join along!
You won’t want to miss following this next adventure!
Never Give In!