Another year, another summer in Wanaka, New Zealand. This place is starting to feel more like home, as it is my fourth trip down here. And I like how that feels. I remember feeling overwhelmingly excited the first year I came down. I had seven weeks to ski and party. The latter seemed to be the dominating theme that year. Last year, I came down to Wanaka on two separate occasions. The first trip was in August- I came down as a coach for the US Junior Worlds team. It was an opportunity to give back to the next generation of athletes that would be propelling our sport forward. And the second trip was a spring training camp up at Cardrona- slush pipe, airbag, good times. A selfish trip I suppose- laid back, a few hours of skiing and then some hiking, dining, and lounging in the afternoon.
But now, there is no sense of overwhelming excitement, just anticipation for what I know will be another unique experience in New Zealand. It may sound bad, but I say it in a good way, a way that feels as if I’m not leaving home, but going to a different home thousands of miles across an ocean. I know what to expect- amazing coffee (flat whites, anyone?), expensive gasoline, groceries and lodging, but brilliant views, breathtaking mountains, crisp alpine lakes, good wine, driving on the wrong side of the road, fickle weather that grounds your skiing, but then some gorgeous bluebird days that are so productive, you don’t care that you just sat on the couch for the last week awaiting this day’s arrival.
And that is where I find myself now. My first 3 days here were gorgeous- I immediately felt comfortable back on my skis from my long hiatus from skiing since March. I’ve already done some things that I’ve never done on skis before, 720 to switch 3, but yesterday and today, the weather came in. Conveniently, of course, just as the New Zealand Winter Games kicked off, the snow started to fall (which is appreciated and needed) but the winds picked up as well. 50 km/hr winds are a bit too quickly for us to soar into the air without being blown away. But now, I have other things to do- I feel as if I’m home, and on days where I can’t ski I can go to the gym, do yoga, post a blog and feel very content on being in New Zealand. I am not going stir-crazy as I may have gone a few years ago.
And as much as I feel like this place has become a home away from home, there is still an ethereal sense that I am in a dream world- so far removed from what is happening at home. My mind is free to reflect, my body has room to relax, my soul has space to expand. And as the world continues to revolve, my world seems to be standing still. Just the pace I need right now.