When I first heard about Vasaloppet and the IBM Diversity Race initiative I wasn’t sure what to expect, as I had never skied before, but I decided to follow my gut feeling and jumped at the chance to participate. This has proven to be one of the best decision I took recently. Not only did I get to experience a ton of new and exciting things, but I am really enjoying the team spirit and the opportunities for new friendships that naturally follow from such endeavors which promote close collaboration and support.
My journey started, simple enough, with crossfit training sessions along with my team, to get our stamina up while we waited for colder weather and snow to finally reach Stockholm. This was my first opportunity to meet all the team members and we really helped each other to keep focused and push ourselves a bit further each time. I quickly re-discovered the strength of being part of a team and the positive effect this has on your motivation to move forward at times when, otherwise, you would just give up if facing the challenge alone. Starting serious physical activity after a pretty long break was rough, but I managed to pull through, and after two months following an intense training schedule I was in a completely different position that where I started. I was finally ready to start skiing !
Gothenburg’s SkiDome facility was my first encounter with a skiing track and the place where, I am happy to say, I learned to ski. Over one weekend I went from not being able to stand on my skies to racing against other team members. To be honest, I never expected to make this much progress in so little time, but I was having so much fun that I did not let the lack of experience stand in my way. I felt the same joy as when I was little kid and went out playing in the snow all day during winter. You never think of of being tired or sore, all that matters is the moment and how much fun you’re having, and I was having plenty !
One pleasant unexpected experience was the curiosity showed by locals we met at SkiDome, many Vasaloppet veterans, who took the opportunity to offer advice and encouragement for our Stafettvasan participation. This is why I love sports, since it allows people to bond over something they like no matter what background they have.
After our Gothenburg experience we resumed our crossfit training and were lucky to finally get snow around Stockholm starting with the arrival of the new year. This opened up a whole new range of possibilities, and we started practicing regularly on the ski tracks in and around Stockholm, with our favourite one being the one at Arninge, Täby Konstsnöspår. Here I got the chance to experience skiing for the first time in -12C weather and also night-time skiing !
I quickly discovered that I have a lot of room to grow in regards to technique, but with constant practice I feel I’m making progress and the Stafettvasan goal is slowly getting within reach. No longer am I taking the slow lane or getting out of the way of faster skiers, now I am almost able to stand side by side with most of them.
Our next event is the Långberget skiing camp, where I’ll be able to practice to my heart’s content for a full four days. I plan on testing the limits of my endurance since this is the best opportunity and location to simulate the experience during the real race. Overall I’m feeling really excited for this camp since it feels like one major milestone that I have reached after months of practice. I can’t wait to write a follow up of my experience there once I return.
I now have full confidence our team will be ready for the race day and hope you’re all enjoying our journey as much as we are.