Solo Show: Reflections for the Independent Athlete

If you’ve ever tried to fly solo in, well, just about anything, you know that the world isn’t always set up for us trailblazers. It will surprise no one to hear that the world of ski racing is no different. At the end of my first ever “Solo Show” race season, as I am calling it, I have a few reflections on the nature of being an Independent athlete on the start line with all the teams.

#1) Ski racing is about money. At least in part. If you personally don’t have it, you’d better find someone who does and is willing to spend it on you, because time spent acquiring money is time spent not training and recovering.

#2) All resources must be maximized when you are covering all your own bases. Here are some things you will be doing:

  • Setting your own training plan, executing it alone, continually assessing how your body is responding, preparing healthy food for every meal of every day, making money so as to pay for race entries, wax, travel, and oh yeah, rent, getting the proper equipment, learning about the hundreds of different waxes and ways to apply them, organizing your travel logistics, getting yourself to the venue, getting the right wax for the right day… (On many teams, the athletes do NONE of the above.) But if you can do all that…

#3) Once you’re on the start line, you’re there to race.

Just like everybody else.

And this winter, thanks to the dose of independence I so desperately needed and thanks to a desire to prove that it can be done, I did it. And it was the happiest race season I have had in a long time.

Here are some highlights:

  • Designing my own race suit
  • Starting last at every race for the first month (while I acquired points)
  • People continually asking me who I was skiing for, and acting shocked when I told them
  • Announcers always say the athlete’s name and their team. “Carly Wynn, racing…for herself!” sounded pretty sweet to me
  • Topping out the podium at an Eastern Cup for the first (and then second) time in my career.
  • Traveling to Gatineau, Canada, to race in the World Loppet Series and my first ever 51k. And coming in second…to one of my best friends.

And speaking of friends… Solo-Show does NOT mean no help was had. Enormous thanks to:

Elizabeth Izzo
Adam Terko & Mansfield Nordic
Dave Kruger
Hilary McNamee
Steve McCarthy
Zach Caldwell & Caldwell Sport

What’s next? Many people have asked me. I’ve got a few ideas up my sleeve…rest assured they will be unconventional. In the meantime, I’m on the hunt for other

athletes who train or race on their own.

Take it from me, a little support goes a long way. I plan to ski race again next year, but I won’t be doing another Solo Show. I’m ready to make life a little easier on myself, ready to get more out of my body, race faster, and make next season even more fun than this season.

I’d like you to join me.

For anyone who identifies with the questions, struggles, and joys I write about on this blog, I want to be a part of your journey. Join my Email List for the latest here on the blog, as well as free training tips, and keep an eye out for an upcoming post on the common mistakes of the Independent Athlete.



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