By: Mystique Ro
The first half of 2020 really threw humanity in for a loop. While much of our unpreparedness was pretty conspicuous in how we handled the challenges this year brought, our adaptability has begun to shine through the fog of uncertainty.
Even now, the sliding world (Bobsled & Skeleton) is sitting on edge awaiting a decision from the International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation to make a decision as to whether or not we will continue on with the season as planned or cancel the first half of international competition to meet up for World Championships in Lake Placid or not slide in international competition at all.
This has been a harrowing experience for everyone, coaches, athletes track sites- literally everyone. There is so much up in the air, so much money and time invested and it all hangs in the balance of international organization to make a decision that will be for the health and safety of everyone involved.
It’s quite easy to get caught up in the doom and gloom of uncertainty and things outside of my control, but this was an excellent time to look introspectively and evaluate my motives.
Going into this upcoming season, I will be entering my fourth year sliding competitively for the United States.
As I look back at my experiences from the first three years, I am at a loss for words for how far I have come along in this journey. From attending driving school with goggles and a helmet to standing atop the podium after winning two races on my home track- this has been the positive reinforcement I needed. I entered this sport with the idea of simply pursuing a dream I thought long gone, running track at the Olympic level, and I was happy to be a participant. Of course, I had the Winter Olympics in mind, but it was so distant from my forethoughts, I seldom acknowledged it.
I was constantly battling the whispers, both literal and in my head, as to whether or not I had what it took to survive in this sport. The constant expectation that I should always push fast at all times, practice, or race, led to a disconnect between myself and the team. My driving had much to be desired. I just wasn’t “clicking” with sliding- not in the way that a higher caliber competitor would have. I compared myself to my teammates and often questioned ‘why I wasn’t getting it’. I struggled with the general chemistry of the team and the lack of commonalities.
It wasn’t until this previous season, 2019-2020, just after team trials I made myself think about my motives. Up to this point, the Olympics was something obviously everyone aspired for, that’s why we were all here but did I actually believe I could make 2022? Cause if I didn’t I had just wasted the past three years doing something because I wasn’t committed to it, and I spent tens of thousands of dollars that I would never get back. After the raw emotions settled, I asked myself why didn’t I own my dream as openly as others. The short answer was because my announcing that dream was a clear statement to my teammates, my current competition for one of those Olympic spots, that one of those coveted spots was for me –so one of y’all ain’t going. My existence on the team at this point was pretty uncomfortable. I was a quiet participant and never said much of anything, merely a name on the roster. So to blatantly announce my intentions to the world, knowing my teammates would see them, felt like I would be calling attention to myself and being more pigeon-holed than I already was.
At the end of the day, I realized I couldn’t live in fear of my peer’s opinions of me and how they would take my claims. They certainly didn’t take my opinions or concerns into account when they claimed to be Olympic Hopefuls for the upcoming games, so why should I? To dedicate the last three (going on four) years of my life to a dream that I have wanted for so long- there is absolutely no reason why I should feel ashamed or compelled to keep quiet about my ambitions.
So as the final weeks dwindle down and I prepare to make the trip up to Lake Placid to start the 2020-2021 season, as planned or modified, I go with a clear mindset of my goal: to make the Olympic Team represent the United States in Beijing. But in order to do that, I have to meet my short term goals: pushing faster, challenging then surpassing the current track record in LP, and posting consistent downtimes.
2020 taught me a lot about perspective. Many may see this year as an episode of the Twilight Zone or the terror of a game Jumanji, but this year has the same qualities and opportunities as any other year: 365 days to get the job done. While they make excuses, I’m making progress!
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Follow Mystique on IG @mystique.ro
Interested in following her journey or finding ways to support? Check out her website Down with DM