Life Lessons

Starting this past March, I knew this season was going to be different. As soon as I arrived in Lake Placid to finish the 2016/2017 season, there was already talk of the upcoming Olympic year. People were already making plans on how to maximize their training and performance to first make their Olympic bid, and then fight for a spot on the coveted podium. Prior to this year I was never in contention for an Olympic team and was not accustomed to all the excitement.

Beyond the training center in Lake Placid, the hype continued as sponsors and media started to build up the games throughout the summer and into the fall. Coming into this year I had goals beyond the Olympics, but as the year wore on making the Olympic team became more of a focus. Knowing I had the potential to qualify, I wanted to put my best foot forward, but didn't want to focus on it. I wanted my focus to be on improving as a biathlete, looking farther ahead than just the next year.

Even though my preparation throughout the year was good, sometimes you can’t prepare for what life throws at you. As others anticipation continued to grow as the days have continued to dwindle down, my anticipation faltered and turned into concern as I quickly saw my chances becoming less and less. Struggling to find proper ski form, I remained positive, knowing I still had a fighting chance heading into the Olympic trials. As the trials began I was faced with yet another series of challenges placing what seemed like insurmountable road blocks on the road to Pyeongchang.

On Saturday I raced my final race of the US Biathlon Olympic Trials and was not able to secure my place on the team. I am disappointed I will not be in Pyeongchang this February and won't sit here and make a list of excuses why I came up short. Caught up in the hype of the Games at times, the sting of not making the team has been a tough pill to swallow. There are a lot of different emotions as I think about all those who have supported and believed in me along the way. It feels that it is not just I who has not made the team, but also all those who have been with me along this journey. To everyone who has supported me in any way, I want to thank you for your support. Your selfless giving and belief in me has encouraged me to travel this course allowing me to learn some of life's greatest lessons. I also give my best wishes to the men and women who made the team, all of whom have dedicated their life to biathlon and are bound for success at this years Olympiad.

As I reflect on the past two and a half years and the journey that has lead me to this point I am overwhelmed with a sense of humility. Growing up, I never would have thought I would have the opportunity to race in Europe, much less compete for a spot on the Olympic team. As my perspective on certain things has changed, I pray that I continue to have a singular eye, staying focused on what really matters. I don’t want to let something like the Olympics matter more than what matters most. As I have faced trials of my own in the past few weeks, God’s goodness has shone through in many different ways. As I finish out this season, I pray I don’t lose sight of my purpose and let others expectations determine my path or disappointments. That no matter how big of loss I may face, there is victory in Jesus, and that is something that I will never lose.

My first time firing a biathlon rifle in 2010.

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© 2017 by Paul Schommer