3C Monthly Winner – April
The SSCV Nordic Program is proud to nominate Elsa Perkins for this month’s 3C award, this is a story of character, courage, and commitment. Below you can read the nomination that the Nordic Program submitted on Elsa’s behalf for this season’s Rocky Mountain Nordic Jon Zeke Zdechlik Memorial Award. RMN clubs went on to award Elsa as this season’s female recipient. Lenka’s write up does a really nice job of telling Elsa’s story but so much more has happened in this last month. Elsa did a race, it was very challenging and it was decided that Elsa would not race for the remainder of the season, instead to focus on healing. This was an extremely difficult and emotional decision, thankfully we were able to put Elsa to work.
Elsa joined us at Western Region Junior Championships and the season ending FIS races in Sun Valley filling in as an athlete/coach. Elsa did it all. She helped out her teammates. She prepared skis. She carried skis to be tested, lots and lots of skis. She picked up coffee. She tested skis, waxes, and structures. She really did it all. It was awesome. We benefited from her hard work. To be able to include Elsa was a win for everyone.
I’m sure being at these races was not always easy for her. While she was happy to help out she would have much rather been out there as one of the racers. All of the coaches and Elsa are looking forward to the months of dryland ahead and getting her back on track for the racing season ahead. She is a fierce competitor, a dedicated athlete, and a very important member of our program. Getting her back to the level of racing she expects next season is going to be great.
Nomination for Elsa Perkins – From SSCV: If you look through the result lists of this season, you won’t find Elsa Perkins’ name. If you would come to our dryland practice during early fall, you wouldn’t find Elsa there. If you would come to our ski practice even a few weeks ago, you wouldn’t find Elsa there. Yet, she is the one who deserves a nomination for The Zeke Award.
This was not an easy year (or two) for Elsa. During the last ski season, even while undergoing intensive physical therapy treatment to alleviate the symptoms, Elsa was struggling with shin and leg pain. She is not one to complain too much, so we all knew things weren’t great when she would finish a race or an interval session in tears. Since things weren’t improving, the decision was made to perform a double surgery on her worse leg to treat her shin splints as well as a vein constriction issue which was causing some of the pain, especially during a hard effort. Now, most athletes are quite horrible patients, and Elsa is no exception. The recovery period was long and very tough for somebody who was ready to jump in and start training as soon as the crutches were gone. But that was understandably not the case. The road to recovery was slow and although Elsa maybe felt like she was losing fitness, and was often a little frustrated, what she was gaining was an even bigger drive towards her goals. Once finally cleared to train with the team, she was excited to be around her friends, ready to work and get her fitness level back up. There were sessions when she couldn’t keep up with the rest of the team, but I haven’t heard one complaint – she was simply happy to be back, even if that meant a little bit of struggling. Unfortunately, Elsa’s other leg kept bothering her, and after a few months she decided to undergo yet another double surgery, and that’s where we are now. Elsa is finally back on snow, double poling only for now, getting stronger and hopefully will be back to pain free skiing before the end of the winter.
Throughout last season as well as this year, Elsa’s attitude has been nothing, but positive. She never stopped looking for solutions while trying to figure out what was wrong with her legs, and she has kept giving the sport all she could. She never stopped trying to improve even if she could no longer skate-ski, or run. And she would always be there for the rest of the team, happy for them, even if she didn’t have the best day, and that isn’t always easy to do. These last two weeks, while Elsa herself couldn’t race, she volunteered to help at our races so she could cheer for her teammates and (I think) to be part of the race in one way or another. She could stay home and be bitter about the fact that she cannot race, but instead she showed up for her team.
As her coach, I see all the aspects of The Zeke Award in Elsa. She has a positive attitude pretty much no matter what. I am certainly inspired by the way she approaches training, racing and life. And did I mention her double pole? That is definitely inspirational. Elsa’s sportsmanship really shows as her endless support of the rest of the team, as well as her kind nature towards others. Elsa is definitely one of those athletes that helped to glue the team together and she is a stellar teammate. Lastly, her love and commitment to the sport speaks for itself, after all, she is still here, climbing (or in her case double poling) her way back up, when she could have easily given up. No, not Elsa, she likes skiing too much to let it go so easily. I think Zeke would have liked her.