I’ll start off by giving a little bit of background about myself. My name is Lily Tomkinson. I’m originally from Australia and I’ve been ski racing for the last 10 years.
To answer everyone’s first question, yes, there is snow in Australia. Sixteen ski resorts in fact. And no, we do not ride kangaroos to school. Aussie ski seasons were always fun when I was younger, although most of them were spent in the rain, but that was just the norm for us. It was when I started spending seasons overseas alone, that ski racing started to become tedious. Training and racing by yourself is a very solitary existence, and extremely isolating. All these amazing things you experience can’t be shared with anyone else. Before last season, I was ready to move on from ski racing, but after some research, I came across ISRA. I decided I was ready to give it one last season to really find my love of skiing again with a real team.
After I got to know everyone at the Colorado camp in November, I had a really good feeling about the rest of the season. It was already so much better than anything I had experienced.
I didn’t feel this huge weight on my shoulders from having to constantly sort out logistics, transport, accommodation, etc.
As our time in Colorado came to an end, I realized that traveling (one of the things I really despise about ski racing) might actually be tolerable this time around because I would be doing it with my teammates. We did have a massive collision when 15 ski bags fell off our carts in the middle of an airport escalator. It was hilarious. But something that would have been a huge headache if I was traveling alone.
Once the competition season kicked off in Italy, the days started to blur together and we trekked from race to race, seeing some pretty awesome places, and experiencing some unbelievable training venues.
Fast forward to the last few weeks of the season. We were in France with a few race series left to go, but the end was in sight. Everyone was tired, energy levels were down, we were hungrier than usual trying to compensate for the lack of energy, but we were ready for the final push. After a couple of bad races in Tignes, it was easy to break down into tears and have a negative attitude towards things. But what made a difference for me is that there was always someone there to ask, “Hey, are you okay? What can I do to help you?” It was hard for me to get used to people caring.
I’ll admit, the last race of the season in Tignes broke me. I did something that I have never done before. I gave up. Looking back on it, I realize that sometimes, especially when your mind and body are weak, your emotions get the better of you. It’s an easy rabbit hole to go down, but extremely hard to climb back out of. I am ashamed of the mistake I made by not starting that second run, but it’s a mistake I will never make again.
Now that I am home in the 36º heat of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, I’ve had some time to reflect on the season. I can say that despite all the tears and down times that ski racing is sure to provoke, I came away with my two best ever GS results and had the time of my life with the greatest girls, and many new friends. This season consisted of many laughs, funny times, and by far the best coaching I have ever received. And along the way, I also discovered that yes, it is possible to find love for ski racing again after nearly giving up on it.
So to anyone out there thinking it’s too hard, or you’re not cut out for it, whatever that gloomy mind chatter might be, keep your head down and bum up because you are sure to find something of value in all of this.