“But I wanna go ski the Birkie.” This was Jake’s reason for not wanting to go to Norway for a month. I myself was battling with the idea of spending another month and a half on the road on a shoestring budget in one of the most expensive country in the world. The season had already brought about disappointment and the idea of going home to avoid any more disappointment sounded very comforting. But I knew that high level racing was waiting in Norway for us and that it was our best opportunity to improve as biathletes. “Dude, Jake, this is Norway, the birthplace of the Birkie!” He shook his head in response, knowing full well this trip is what we needed. “Let’s do it. Project Norway starts now!”
When Project Norway first started, it was about three American biathletes traveling around Norway in pursuit of high level biathlon racing. By the time we left Norway, we realized that our time in Norway may be over, but Project Norway never ends. We realized that our time in Norway gave us so much more than high level racing opportunities. While we were in Norway, we saw how a culture obsessed with winter sports continually produces the top athletes in the world. We learned to work together as a team to dig out our rental van every time it got stuck in the middle of a white out blizzard. We learned what it meant to trust and live by faith, when it looked as if we wouldn’t have a place to stay the next day. We worked together, knowing that we are stronger together as a team.
When we first started traveling to Norway, we kept saying, “Project Norway starts now!!” A week into our trip, we kept saying this phrase and it just started to stick. What started as a joke turned into a phrase that meant a whole lot more. Leaving Norway, we all looked at each other and once again said the phrase, “Project Norway starts now.” Yes, our time in Norway was over, but Project Norway continues.
Even though we went to Norway to become better biathletes, the lessons we left Norway with were much larger than the sport of biathlon. This past season brought about different difficulties for me. Bad health and tough results seemed to haunt me for the better part of the season, but really what I was battling was my own mind. Going to
Norway showed me this, that it’s not others who put these expectations on me, but I do it to myself. When we let go of these expectations we can become not only what we are called to be, but become what we are fully capable of.
So every morning we would wake up and say that phrase, “Project Norway starts now boys,” it meant so much more than going out and becoming a better biathlete. Every morning when we wake up it’s a fresh start, a new beginning. It doesn’t matter if we went out and shot 50% in a race yesterday, today we have the chance to do it again. I was reminded of this again this past weekend during Easter. Jesus didn’t come to this earth for us to have to our past mistakes continue to haunt us, but to be set free and continue on the path of righteousness. Even though we have left Norway, Project Norway starts now.
Max, Jake and I after our final race in Voss, Norway.
The snow in Norway was unbelievable!
One of my best ever biathlon perfomances in Molde, Norway.
When illness struck out cabin in Ridnaun, Italy, Sani-Schommer had to show up to sanitize the place.