Smile On My Face, Optimism In My Heart

Image:Smile On My Face, Optimism In My Heart
06. Mar, 2018 Written by: Kelsey Serwa
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With the next Winter Olympics just around the corner and as an athlete working to qualify for the games, it can be easy to get caught up in the pressure to perform. When I feel my heart flutter uncontrollably coupled with racing thoughts from thinking about all the “what ifs”, I simply stop, breath and smile. Perhaps a strange reaction in response to the activation of my sympathetic nervous system, but I have come to love these sensations. It’s taken many years of practice, experiencing both victory and defeat, to be mindful of these emotions, to accept them and harness their energy to be put towards a positive outcome. Stop, breath and smile — for me, it’s as simple as that.

For the whole of my nine years of racing on the World Cup Ski Cross circuit, I have appreciated the physical fitness, technical skill, strength, power and agility each athlete brings to the start gate. These external qualities are easy to focus on because they often translate into podium finishes. Relentless hours are spent in the gym, lifting and throwing around weights, leaping on and off boxes, and balancing on any unstable apparatus we can get our feet onto. Rugged bike trails scattered throughout the Coastal Mountains of British Columbia offer an additional training environment to hone in skills that are transferred from dirt to snow. Despite all this training and best intentions, our bodies take a serious beating throughout each race season and sometimes injuries happen. 

I’ve paid dues and experienced a few for myself including concussions, a broken back, blown knees, and damaged cartilage — all of which I’ve never regretted. Each setback has brought with it a new lesson-leaned and opportunity to grow. What continues to get me through tough times is the gratitude I bring to each day. Being thankful for things I’m able to do, rather than focusing on temporary inabilities has completely shifted my perspective not only in sport but in life as well. I’ve learned the importance of celebrating even the smallest of personal triumphs. I’ve learned to constructively reflect upon and accept past experiences, and how to be present in both mind and body at this very moment. I feel overwhelming happiness and acceptance for who I am, what I’ve accomplished, and for the unsurmountable support I’ve received in order to pursuit my greatest passions.

Today, I once again find myself on the road to recovery from a knee injury sustained before last Christmas. The Olympics are only months away and I still need to qualify, but I have a smile on my face and optimism in my heart. I am dedicated and excited to return to the sport which has given me so much, and feel exhilarated about the possibility to one-up my last Olympic performance from 2014. We may ponder and ask ourselves what the future might hold, but it’s this unknowing which brings me delight. 

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