Erin Maidman: The end approaches

Erin Maidman

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Well, here we are. Less than two weeks left to enjoy the brisk spring air of Mammoth Lakes, California. I am one day of training, eight days of racing, one award ceremony, two parties, and one tearful goodbye away from coming back to Ventura. It seems that all I can focus on is life after Mammoth, but I can’t do that just yet. I am still here, and I am still competing. I have to keep my eyes on the prize.

Most racers are done for the year, either too physically or mentally exhausted to put any more effort into their skiing, which is completely understandable. I’m just as tired as anyone else. I’m ready to come home. But the sparse few racers who persevere through the exhaustion for just a couple more weeks win it big at Speed Week. {sidebar id=65}

Speed Week is an open Speed championship held by Mammoth every spring. It usually finishes off Far West’s season, holding three Super-G’s and three Downhill’s between a Saturday and Thursday. However, since the snow has been melting so rapidly in Tahoe and we couldn’t run our Tech Finals in Diamond Peak and Heavenly earlier in the month, Mammoth will also be hosting the GS finals on the Thursday and Friday of this week, racking up the total number of races days to eight. That’s eight straight, the most I think I’ve ever done in one sitting.

We are going to be absolutely exhausted by the time we are through with the race series. What’s more, on the day after it ends, I’ll be packing my bags and driving home to Ventura. I’ll have the weekend to finish all the last few bits of school before I start attending classes again. Life will change completely once again. After six long months of ski racing full-time in Mammoth Lakes, CA, I’ll be just another student at Foothill Tech.

But enough of that. I have to focus on the task at hand. Six months down, one week to go. It’s time to use whatever energy I’ve been saving up to my advantage. Yes, its cliché, but I have to leave it all on the hill. This is my last shot. It’s the last race I’ll ever have as a U16, after all.

U16 is the age group I’m in. With each age group comes a different style of coaching, different focuses regarding technique, and different levels of intensity. The alpine racing program starts at Mighty Mites, or 6, 7, and 8-year-olds, and gradually moves up from there. This is my third year as a U16, and I’ve loved it. My coaches are wonderful. They know just how to get the best results from me. I’ve grown more as a skier and as a person than I ever have in any other age group. I’m comfortable here. I’m not sure I’m ready to leave just yet.

But I have to. Next year, I’ll be a U18, starting my “professional” career as a FIS athlete. Getting my FIS license means that I’ll be weighing my race points on the same scale as all the best racers in the world. If you can believe it, skiing will actually get more competitive. More hours, more traveling, more work. Crazy, I know. But I’m stoked to see what the future holds.

Enough, Erin, enough. No reminiscing or planning just yet. I still have one big, long race series left to go. I’ve got goals to achieve still.

For the two GS races starting tomorrow, I hope for nothing more than my best skiing and a better finish than in the qualifiers. No particular result, just good skiing. If I can focus solely on my technique instead of my results, then I guarantee I’ll do better than before and be happy.

For the three Super-G’s and three Downhill’s over the weekend and through the week, I have no expectations. When I went to Alaska and told myself to win, I crumbled under the pressure. I did not handle my situation well, nor did I go into it with a positive mental attitude. But I will now. I don’t care what I place in the Speed races, I just want to ski well, learn from my mistakes, and progress as an athlete. Technique first, results later. That’s what’s going to make me ski my fastest.

I want to do well, yes, but mostly I just want to enjoy myself. I love to race. If this is that last race I’ll ever run before November, then I want to make it fun.

Bring it on, Speed Week, bring it on.

Check me out on LiveTiming.com at 10 a.m. all this week to watch the race results as they come in. Hopefully you’ll be seeing me near the top. 

What do you think?