By Peter Kling
“We have a glacier where we ski twice a day during camps and you get there by flying in a helicopter.” Sold.
I called my parents and casually mentioned to them I may be going to school in Alaska. “We can talk about it when you get home” was their reply.
Eagle Glacier- nestled high in the Chugach Mountains with peaks towering above its belly, I was intimidated beyond belief. The majority of athletes were many years and minutes ahead of me on results sheets. I needed to take a leap. I knew I was quick in classic sprinting and jumped into my first speed session. I nervously toed the line one misty afternoon with six other top skiers and focused in on the two wands just visible in the glacier fog gradually uphill from where we stood.
‘GO’ was all I needed to hear, head down, dancing on my skis to bring them up to speed in the bottomless slush, rapidly accelerating and lengthening the stride, grabbing the snow with everything I had yet finessing the kick to not immediately shear the wax and cartwheel cartoon style head over heels, legs searing, vision blurring-the line approaches and I was second. One wily old guy had beaten me and my confidence had sky-rocketed. Now I knew I could hang on a good day, the journey would be long and far from easy. There were a few “wow he can move” comments that were muttered as we limped back to the start to go again.
Each day there were challenges, triumphs and setbacks. There were times where it felt as if no progress was being made and steps had been taken backwards. One person in particular helped me shift my perspective when the peaks seemed out of reach and the hurdles were seemingly massive by asking “where were you a year ago today?” Even when the darkest moments of school, training, and work were all that could be seen, I was able to see progress was being made.
Sport is a double edged sword, the highs are incredible and the lows are unfathomable. The success of moving from a low to a high takes determination, grit and focus. Each presentation, paper, rainy fall training session where I donned a second rain jacket for the afternoon session I knew this was bringing me closer to the goal. APU kept me moving, it granted me the opportunity to chase my dreams and goals both academically and athletically.
Moving on from APU, my journey continues out of Alaska. One thing I know for sure- I will not be sitting idly- waiting to rust, I will continue to move my mind and body and take on bigger challenges and know that it will propel me closer towards my goal.