My name is Annika and I grew up in Hailey, Idaho racing for SVSEF. After that, I attended Middlebury College, and with the help of two amazing coaches and many hard-working teammates I was able to make big gains in my skiing that motivated me to take a shot at racing professionally after college.
I spent the past year at home racing for the SVSEF Gold Team, but this spring, I decided to make the transition away from Sun Valley, and join the Craftsbury Green Racing Project. It was a difficult decision to leave my family and friends, and the comfort of the western mountains, but, so far, I have been impressed by the quality of training, the welcoming community, and the opportunity for new people and experiences.
End of a Classic OD Up Jay Peak with the GRP
The move to Vermont has left me feeling recharged after a year of difficult choices, isolation, disappointing performances, and general upheaval. The past season was an extremely difficult one for me, as it was for many athletes struggling to navigate training and competing during the Covid-19 pandemic. Coming out of college in the spring of 2020, I was excited to jump into my first year racing professionally on the Super Tour and put my full effort behind securing World Cup starts and racing internationally.
Covid obviously had other plans.
As 2020 wore on, it became increasingly clear that the winter season would not be anything close to normal. And it wasn’t. I found myself feeling worn out, physically and mentally. I was not fully enjoying training and racing and that worried me because I still had big goals for myself that I felt too fatigued to chase.
At the beginning of February, I took a step back from structured training and racing, understanding that forcing myself to act like things were normal when they weren’t would only make me feel more drained. Instead, I took the opportunity to do some of the things I don’t normally get to do during a full racing season. I went backcountry skiing, built and slept in a snow cave, and was relieved to rediscover my innate competitiveness by participating in virtual challenges like the Frost Mountain 12 Hour Challenge and the Far West Power Hour. By the spring, I felt like I had regained ambition for chasing my goals. My first month in Craftsbury training with a strong group of girls has only made me more excited to dive back into a full racing season.
A fun descent during the Frost Mountain 12 Hour Challenge where I backcountry skied for 12 hours continuously, gaining ~12,800ft!
Pursuing skiing at a high level is hard work and it's important to honor the times when it grinds you down, and, when you are ready, look back at how it made you stronger. For me, I learned a lot about balancing my ski racing goals with other life pursuits, and about elevating my mental health to the same level as my physical training. While it’s important to recognize that things are not yet “normal”, I feel ready to charge back into what I love doing most, ski training, racing, and sharing that journey with the larger ski community!
Rocking the Small Face Bliz Matrix on an April backcountry ski. (above) A late season ski with my favorite training partner, Teva (below)