Sunday, February 7, 2010

To all who have supported and encouraged me over the years,

Onion River Nordic skiers going above and beyond as usual! Thanks guys!!

I have tried to reflect over the last couple of weeks on what being named to this 2010 Olympic team has meant to me. I have tried to remember different points in my career and which ones were key to me making this dream possible. I have tried to remember the first time I won a race, and I don’t know the answer, but I can remember my first teammates. I have tried to remember the first time I thought of how cool going to the Olympics would be, and I can’t remember. I cannot seem to remember nearly as many bad days as I can good ones. What I do remember is racing the lifties from the top of the training hill at Burke, in a full-blown tuck all the way to the bottom, fear not even a consideration. I remember the rush of putting Nordic skis on for the first time, and how nervous I was that I was going to be laughed at, but instead, found support and encouragement around every turn. I remember chasing my teammate Carina Hamel around on the Burke Nordic trails every day for a year wanting to be just like her. I remember the people on my first International race trip, and the venue, and how big some of the other girls were, but I could not tell you any of the results from the races. I remember every day I have skied with kids, as they are the best people I know to remind you how to love what you do.

I have tried to live my life as best I can with focus on the here and now moment. Any time I have focused on the outcome of a certain race or goal, I have forgotten why I do what I do. And now, here I am, five days away from opening ceremonies at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games and I am focusing with all my might on seeing this as just another piece in the process of my life. I have goals, I have dreams, I have desires, but they are just in place to help structure the journey.

I just raced in my final World Cup before the games in Canmore, Alberta. Before this I had a three-week training block in Park City, Utah and I have to admit, it was hard not to delve into total training mode. I have told myself every day for the last 24 days, that the Olympics are right around the corner, that they are next month, and then, they are in 2 weeks, and sure enough, here I am, staring at the five day marker of day one at the Olympics. So, what now? I have prepared the best I know how, used the resources I have available to me, trained, day in day out for the last seven years and now I have a new challenge waiting for me. I am part of a team who I believe completely in and am inspired by. I have coaches who I not only trust but who believe in me as well, and are all people I consider great friends. I have one of the best jobs I can think of, as each day I go to work by pulling out gear of one sort or another, a bike, a pair of skis, running shoes, barbells, a swim suit, and then proceeding to check out what the woods have to offer on that day. My job, in its simplest form, is to become the healthiest, fittest, strongest person I can possibly be. Imagine if we could all be so lucky.

So, my point is this. No matter what happens in 10 days, or in 20 days, I will still lace up my running shoes, will still put on my ski boots, still pick up some heavy weights and put them back down, and still rip around through the woods in any fashion I can, because this thing, this huge thing that we call the Olympics, is a huge deal, but that’s all it is. It is a huge deal that happens once every 4 years in my sport. It is a huge deal that I may only get to experience once, but it is not life or death. So what now? Now I put on a bib, lace up my boots and go ski as hard as humanly possible. This thing we call the Olympics, that happens once every four years, is now five days away. What I do now, is let the training, preparation and hard work carry me and try like hell to do my best.

What I do now, is get inspired. I am packing my bags to go to the Olympic Winter Games, the real ones, the ones we all dream about. What I do now, is thank all of the people who have been beside me, behind me and ahead of me for the last 23 years of my life, as there is no way I could have begun to live a life as awesome as mine is without you. What I do now is live. I live it up, because this may only happen once. What I do now is get goose bumps, teary eyed and jittery because I am about to compete on the biggest world stage there is, doing what I love to do more than anything else.

So in five days, let’s all fire up. Let’s all watch athletes do what they love, watch them compete and try to better their best. Let’s all get inspired. Whether you are an athlete who made the team, or one who tried like hell but didn’t, a parent, a friend, a coach, a loved one, a kid with a dream, lets all make a pact. Let’s all get inspired. Let’s all push ourselves to be better at something, anything. Thank you for pushing me. Thank you for inspiring me to do my best. Thank you for the countless pep talks and the unending belief in me. Thank you for inspiring me. Thank you for supporting me and keeping this sport fun, because the term “fun” really doesn’t sum it up.

Did a Fast and Female event last night in the streets of downtown Canmore. These guys are into it...50 truck loads of snow covering 4 blocks of main street. As the sprinters all said, "These conditions are nicer than any city sprint on the World Cup!"

Zumba dancing for a warm-up with the Fast and Female athletes!

Sarah Renner after her third place finish on Saturday! She may be the nicest Canadian you will ever meet, which is saying a lot as Canadians are the nicest people you will ever meet!


Leif said...

Wow Liz, I just got "goose bumps, teary eyed and jittery" reading your your post!! I hope you know you have a BIG fan base here in bozeman (I'm probably your BIGGEST though)and we are all cheering for you from here!! Just "do" what you "do" best!!


Hannah Polow said...

Misssss Liz Stephen!!! Remember your ole' Peoples Academy running buddy?! Your dad called my dad the other day (I'm sure about some lawyer thing) and I got your blog information. It was perfect timing because I went for a run the other day and thought of you. I am really so pumped for you, I mean the Olympics! Your hard work, dedication, and talent are now on the international stage, congrats!! Don't forget us PA girls who made you fight just a wee bit more to get past us, hehe, I kid! Just know I'll be sending lots of positive VT-style energy your way (in my new home of Boulder). GOOD LUCK, I know you'll rock!! Love, Hannah

Claude said...

Liz you are wonderful! Your words and model as an athlete are a beacon for all of us and all of us here at Morse Farm are cheering you on.

The Narcist: said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Narcist: said...

Go Liz!! My whole office will be following your journey at the Olympics. You've got tons of fans in Los Angeles who will be watching you on tv and rooting you on!! Remember, "With the power of soul, anything is possible." Turns out U-32 really is "freaking unstoppable!"

You speak of those who have inspired you, and you are now inspiring others. I can't think of anything more wonderful.

- Crystal Riportella-Crose

Carrie said...

LIZ! Wow I got teary eyed reading your post too! I have to tell you that I have been thinking about you frequently in the past couple of years. I miss you so much, you are still such an amazing inspiration to me. I, and the entire Piper family, will be cheering for you and sending our "ski fast" energies your way. If only you could wear go fast glitter during your race...
Good luck, we love you, and SKI FAST!
Carrie and the Piper family

Alison said...

Go, go, Lightning Liz!! We love you and are SO VERY PROUD of you! Keep that perma smile and positive attitude going and GOOD LUCK!!

XOXXOX The Pipers

Taz said...

Liz! I've meant to email to congratulate you for so long it's embarrassing, but this post really inspired me to do so. I'm so happy for you. Being there and taking it all in is such an opportunity. You're an amazing skier, and I know you'll just go for it! I'm watching and cheering you on all the way. I can't wait to catch up this spring... Have fun! -Taz

Qrazy said...

Congrats on the Olympics Liz! Great stuff. I was cheering for you from Montreal. Oh right, this is Josh Hansen from ye olde East Montpelier days haha. How's the family? Are you and Andy anywhere on facebook?? Can't find you guys.