World Cup Final – Competing Stateside!

The next few weeks leading up to Florida were very busy and flew by. I took a trip out to the east coast for a long weekend after returning from Hungary. Then the following weekend went to a friend’s wedding as well as a graduation for one of my teammates. The next weekend before leaving form Florida I competed in a fencing tournament all while trying to balance school and some part time work alongside my training. I was pushing the limits on my body and could feel myself starting to get sick before the competition in Florida which wasn’t good.

It was definitely a busy time of the year and I really had to work on my time management with my school work and training to find a better balance instead of trying to run around nonstop.

I still am trying to find that balance and it has been difficult to adjust things to be better about my time management. I am glad that I was still able to fit everything in and enjoy the time with friends and family during the trips, celebrations, and competitions.

The four weeks leading up to World Cup Final flew by and pretty soon I was packing my bags to Florida! I was very excited to have qualified for my first World Cup Final event and that my mom and day would be traveling with me as well. World Cup Final is a little different than the World Cups as it is only a finals event meaning there are only 36 men and women competing instead of having semifinals and finals. This means the top 36 athletes have to qualify based on the world cups from that season.

The competition would be tough in Florida as it would be the top 36 women, but would be great experience for me. This would also be the first time for the U.S. to hold a World Cup Final in many years. The competition would be held in Sarasota, Florida.

My family and I flew into Tampa and had to drive about an hour to the hotel in Sarasota. We were able to get a direct flight to Tampa from Denver which was very nice and saved a lot of travel time. The area was beautiful and the ocean view along the drive was gorgeous. I could tell already that the humidity and heat was going to be rough while competing though.

I got settled into the hotel and went to dinner with the parents before getting some homework done and getting some rest. The next day we got to go out to the combined and riding venue which was at the Polo fields. I was amazed at how green everything was and the area was a great location for the riding and combined event.

With everything going on I barely made it to the pool to get in a few laps and see the swimming venue before I had to be at opening ceremonies. The opening ceremonies were at the Wringling Brothers museum. The courtyard where the ceremony was at was a beautiful area especially during sunset. I had been on my feel a lot and had to get back to the hotel to get ready for the competition the next day. I was very tired and hadn’t been sleeping too well for some reason so was hoping to get a good night’s sleep.

The competition started very early and coming from Colorado it didn’t help much with the 2 hour time difference. It seemed to take me a little while to wake up in the morning during the fencing even with coffee and getting myself pumped up with some music. I was tense during the fence and was having trouble relaxing which definitely showed and I wasn’t finishing my actions or getting many touches. It was frustrating once again to come out so low in my fencing, but I was able to get some video of some of the bouts which is useful to learn from and find what I can improve for other events.

The swimming event went much better and we were swimming short course 25m. I am much more confident swimming short course and it showed with a new personal best of 2:18! I was very happy to see some improvement in that area of the event. The riding course looked like it was going to be very difficult and technical with a lot of tight turns. Thankfully I drew a  very good horse and was able to ride a clean and clear ride with no time penalties or rails knocked down.

Some of the other women struggled in the riding and I moved up a few places to start the combined in 28th place. The heat and humidity was very tough and the run was brutal. I didn’t shoot as well as I normally do and was only able to move up one place to finish in 27th. Although I was still irritated with my fencing I had some positives to look back on as well as a good first experience in my first World Cup Final.

It was wonderful to have my mom and dad at the event to support me. They usually aren’t able to come to many international events as they are typically over seas or in other countries. It was also great being able to have so much support from teammates and other people cheering on the U.S. at the competition. Being able to have a hometown crowd was fun and hearing cheers for USA was great and always brings me pride to compete for our country.

The next two days would be the men’s competition and the mixed relay. My family and I went to support my teammates competing, but were also able to get some time at Siesta Key and LiDo Beach. The beaches were absolutely amazing with soft sand and warm water. I was in shock at how nice the beaches were as well as the calm waters that you could swim in. I even saw a manatee out in the water while I was swimming! I was happy to get a little bit of rest time and enjoy the trip with my family as well. Even just a few hours on the beach and some good seafood are enough to get in a little vacation in the mix of all the competition and events going on.

It was a great trip as well as experience for me to learn as an athlete and see that I am making improvements. I am hard on myself, as are most people, and I want to see results faster and get better overnight, but I know it takes time. Seeing the improvements is good and shows that I am making progress towards the goal of qualifying for the Olympics in Rio in 2016.