A decade of racing



Ten years of birthdays on the fly and competition dates.

Sunday River, Maine; Copper Mountain, Sugar Bowl and Squaw Valley; Tamarack, Crystal Mountain, Bad Gastein, Veysonnaz, Daemyung Vivaldi, Saas-Fe, Yongpyong, Mont Blanc, Sun Valley, Stoneham, Sochi.




Gas station cupcakes and matchsticks for candles.  A planeload of passengers singing ‘Happy Birthday’. Dinner at the Crab Pot in Seattle on the way back from the Canadian Consulate’s ‘one-year-to-the-Olympics’ celebration. 



Mysterious cakes delivered by ladies in Russia.

A 19th birthday marked by Shaun Palmer and a Jeep, but no driver’s license.

palmer and callan




A forgettable birthday having surgery. 





The 21st with Auntie Helen and cousin Willie in a dark downtown Vancouver pub, and the Alaska girls at Cypress.




good words

The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.

— Pierre de Coubertin, International Olympic Committee founder



colorA flurry of Olympic trials – World Cups in Canada, Austria and Andorra. The last Olympic trial event last week in Veysonnaz, Switzerland cancelled. Bummer, Callan was just getting warmed up and in great physical and mental shape to do well there. But that’s racing…there’s no whining.

Off to the X Games. A solid performance and some really nice skill on the course. Considering the challenges of an Olympic-year competition calendar, compounded by injuries, pretty good!


The past 18 months leading up to the 2014 Sochi Olympics has been grueling. It’s no small thing to get it all done, be where you need to be, make everything work out. There are times it takes blind unflagging commitment to stay the course.

Athletes trade virtually everything else they could be doing – family and friends, the simple pleasures of ordinary life that one takes for granted – for a vicarious high-stress existence of living out of a suitcase, waiting to find out what event or training camp is next and what hemisphere and continent it’s on; praying you’ve got enough airline miles to get where you need to be and you don’t get tagged with a $400 baggage fee on the next flight or stuffed into a middle seat when you desperately need sleep. Even Christmas can feel like an inconvenient distraction.


Throw in a couple of world-class injuries requiring surgical repair and extra body parts, followed by months of painful full-time rehab and rigorous physical conditioning. Nobody ever plans for that. It’s a miracle that anyone ever makes it from one Olympics to the next.

In Vancouver four years ago, I was asked to describe my proudest moment of an Olympic athlete daughter. I froze. I couldn’t think of a thing. Breaking a sweat, I desperately searched the walls of the tiny overheated studio, hoping for some tiny bead of inspiration to deliver an advertiser’s dream heart-warming ‘Olympic Mom’ sound bite that would make Hallmark cry. Nothing.

“Can I have a hint?” I asked hopefully. Nobody laughed. It didn’t look like they were even breathing. Like owls on a tree limb, the production crew just stared at me, silently waiting. I babbled some utterly forgettable thing that probably got the gold medal for stupidest answer and was no doubt left on the cutting room floor.

Four years later, I still don’t know how to answer that. It troubles me – I should know what my proudest moment was, what kind of a mama doesn’t? It’s become a ritual in quiet moments, while I’m driving, waiting in line. I review Callan’s childhood and family moments in my mind’s eye, critically evaluating memories for proud factor. Hmm, no, not that.


Twenty-four years of a baby girl grown to adulthood. The baby and toddler milestones. Basketball and volleyball games with awesome Coach Jeano and Jill Gann. Hunting with Upi and coffee can moose-callers, skiff rides, the funny things and the embarrassing cute stuff. Priceless irreplaceable moments with Nana and Aunties at Ekuk Cannery. Commercial fishing and getting a ticket for a 5-year-old unlicensed deckhand because she insisted to Enforcement that yes, she did work on the boat; she picked fish and made sandwiches. Wondering how my dad had managed with two children on the boat, his patience and praise, and how I never doubted my value as crew and fishpicker.

I’m proud of her intelligence and abilities. I’m proud of her work ethic, that she never fails to help out and never complains. I’m proud that she absorbs lessons and learns from experiences. I’m proud of her self-reliance and competency and how she really truly can do anything. I’m proud of her caring nature, that she’s kind and good to her friends, that she’s steadfast and loyal to a fault. I’m proud of her gratitude and how she doesn’t take anything for granted.

I’m proud of the way she’s handled the difficult moments along the way. Keeping her head high and walking through adversity, one foot in front of the other, maintaining grace and persevering. I’m proud that she’s a woman of character and integrity.


I feel pride at the insignificant sweet nothings that only I can appreciate and make no big impression on the world. Like when she taped surprises into the electrical fuse box before she traveled and called me from a foreign country to get me to go look on my birthday. Or when she showed up at 8 am with a cup of coffee and a ticket to Nepal for me.

I was never more impressed with her than when she entertained us on the boat with “Lion King” – every line in every voice. “Mufasa, Mufasa, Mufasa!”

Not much of a sexy poignant sound bite. I don’t know how they do it.

When Callan was 10 or 11, I thought how fabulous it would be if she was my age and we’d be adventure partners and do the “Amazing Race” show. Or that I was her age, because I would like her and she’d be the kid I’d want to be friends with.

I’m so looking forward to more adventures and excited about whatever comes next.


~ And that’s my Olympic Mom proud moment.

Excitement, Anticipation and Savoring the First World Cup of the Olympic Season

Montafon, Austria: The front lobby of the Montafoner Hotel is alive with movement. Athletes from across the world gather at the front desk for check-in while bags and gear litter the floor. Fellow competitors greet each other in a melting pot of customs ranging from three kisses on the cheeks, two kisses on the cheek, hugs and handshakes. I giggle to myself a little, wondering how my foreign friends on the World Cup Tour would react to me ‘sniffing’ their cheeks, a customary Yupik greeting. Eskimo kisses aren’t a common sight here. 

This is the first stop on 2014 World Cup Tour and one of five Olympic qualification events before the Sochi Olympic Games. The excitement and anticipation in the air here is so thick you can touch it, toss it around and play catch with it. After this summer of 5-day-a-week intensive physical training at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, this atmosphere feels amazing in my lungs. I am ready for it, the last and final road to Sochi begins tomorrow!

Thank you for reading! Please check my blog for day-to-day updates and reflections on this thrilling season of Olympic qualification!