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2018 State Champion Spotlights

And that wraps up our 2018 State Champion Spotlights.  Congratulations to all!  Here are all of the 2018 state champion spotlights:

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2018 State Champion Spotlight-Jen Wilbraham

Our next state champion spotlight is Jen Wilbraham of Morse.  Jen won the Class A Classical, the Class A Pursuit, and also won several races during the season.  We asked her about her state meet preparations and her reaction to winning states.

1) What were your preparations leading up to the state meet ?
I was just coming off of a minor, lower-back problem that occurred recently at the end of the regular season, so I wasn't fully able to prepare the way I usually do. I missed out on a volume and an intensity week for my training, and was very focused on recovering and relaxing my back, while still keeping up with endurance and speed. Mentally, I knew I had to be super on top of things at school, and spent as much time talking to my friends and teammates as possible. I got every single hour of sleep that I could, and ate lots of pasta, vegetables, and fruits that I could get my hands on. (Shoutout to @ournordicdiet on Instagram.)
 
2) How did you deal with the pressure and emotions that come along with competing in a state meet?
I didn't. I don't think anyone truly does, and I'm a very emotional person, so it was very present. Most of the pressure was self inflicted, because I knew I could win, but I had to have the perfect warm-up routine and take care of my body, which sometimes I forget to do. As far as nerves, I literally need to force myself to get up and move around, walk laps if I have to, just to keep calm. I try to stay off my skis until I'm fully prepared to warm-up. 
 
3) What was going through your mind at the start, especially at the freestyle pursuit being the first one out?
So, imagine this: a GIF of a cat in space, zooming along on a rocket, surrounded by George Washington, The Beatles, and some dude running. That's my mind before the start. I try to do some visualization, but that usually ends with a vision of me looking like Flat Stanley, with terrible technique, flying into a tree. In all seriousness, I do actually pick my lines during the warmup, making sure I know where I want to put my skis, and I know which sections I want to V1 and V2. But, I never remember that as I'm in the gate, my mind is usually blank, or hyper-active. 
 
4) You have won a lot of races this season, what do you contribute your great success to?
Breakup angst, purple hair dye, and about 450 hours of gains. 
 
5) What are some of your best memories from the past season?
Getting to know, and watch my team improve. The majority of them are freshmen, and every single one has grown so much this season. This is my second year with Mt. Ararat, but this year was one of true bonding, and I have laughed my entire head off many many times. 
 
6) What are your plans/goals for next year?
Performance-wise, I want to be a lot stronger. I need to be a lot stronger actually, to meet my other goal of making Junior Nationals. I participate in the Eastern Cup series, and I was closer than I've ever been this season to making that goal a reality. I'm not actually going to race high school next year because I want to ski in college (scouting doesn't happen much at the high school level) and in order to make JNs, I really can't overdo the whole racing thing. This season, I had as many race starts as a college athlete with 600 hours. I haven't the base for that, so I was essentially racing on an empty tank every race, which brought my point average for Eastern Cups up instead of down. 
 
7) What are your favorite things about nordic? 
I love the serenity of it; training by myself in the woods on perfect snow, nothing comes close to that feeling. I also love that it's one of the most hardcore sports one can subject themselves to, and it gets a lot of attention, keeping my ego happy. That's a joke, mostly. I love the sport because there's so much support; from parents, coaches, and even other competitors. I have a deep love and respect for everyone I race against, and that's not uncommon. We all support each other, there's no "us vs. them" like in soccer or football. 
 
8) What was your reaction when you found out that you won states?  
I don't think there's much of a word to describe it. This was my goal since freshman year, and I've been runner up two years in a row. I think I was happier with my lead than anything, it really showed, in numbers, how much I had poured into that race. I knew it was my last state meet ever, so I had to give it my all, and leave everything on course. I was incredibly pleased with myself, and everyone else who crossed that line. My team did amazingly, and some of the girls I knew that had a rough start to the season came back with such strength and grace that I was just really impressed.
 
9) Is there anything else that you would like to add?
I would like to thank club skiing for getting me to this point. All my success has come from skiing against the best athletes in the country, whether at Eastern Cups, or training with what used to be the Maine Winter Sports Center (now OSI) training group in the winter, and Mansfield Nordic Club in the summer. High school skiing is great, but at the end of the day, there's so many rules that I find myself not having fun with it anymore. And if there's one piece of advice I can give to anyone, it's that you need fun to do well. It's impossible to do anything without fun, and it's imperative that you include it with your training. Another thing, listen to your body. If you know you're overdoing it, rest. If you're under-doing it (like me last year), find someone to motivate you. Lastly, don't let anything define you, except for your name; you make that yourself. 

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