Zina Kocher

3 x Olympian World Cup Medallist

New Start, Staying in the NOW...

It's been a long time since I've blogged anything at all...thus I've decided that on my finale season I shall! 

Did I say finale? Yes, that's right. 90% sure that this will be my final and last winter season racing biathlon. (you never know...) I have had a wonderful 15 year journey, however now I feel it is time, this Zina is ready to embark on a new path. 

For now though let's go back to NOW. Once again, as it comes every year at the end of November, the start of the World Cup season begins. And here I am here, in Ostersund, Sweden, ready to compete in World Cup 1. We started 3 days ago, with the Mixed Relay & the new Super Sprint (or Single) Mixed Relay in the venue that has historically been a great one for us. (This is the same venue that I stood on 3rd place in the 15k & JP LeGuellec won the Sprint). What a day Sunday was! All of us, our whole team was ready for day 1. The season opener began with the Single Mixed and our team delivered spectacularly, surprising probably everyone, except us who truly knew the super sprint ability of Nathan Smith & Rosanna Crawford! Their 2nd place finish had us all fired up and psyched to race the Mixed Relay an hour later. Our team of Julia Ransom, Me, Scott Gow, and Brendan Green performed well in the windy conditions with no loops and the best result since 2011/12 season finishing 9th. A solid beginning. A solid day of fun. And thus the World Cup season began with champagne cheers to more future podiums and personal firsts!

But wait, the week here is not over. Today the 20k for men. Thursday 15k for women. Sprint & Pursuit races on the weekend. Keep following on biathlonworld.com and my Facebook & Twitter account for updates on the races day to day. 

As I mentioned above in capital levels, NOW, has been an important word for me to connect to this year. After Sochi, I knew I wanted to do 2 more years of racing. I felt strong, fast, had some good races but also not quite meeting my desires or expectations of myself. I wasn't ready to give it up. So I did another year. And I struggled...motivation was up and down. I struggled in my personal life and that took awhile to heal. I didn't feel strong in the summer or when the winter came. I felt stressed, anxious, frustrated and pretty much hated what I was doing. Except when I was out alone in the wilderness just purely enjoying the snow beneath my feet and the crisp blue winter skies. I was sent home off the World Cup circuit in mid January, with only the IBU cups in Canmore 2 months down to road to look forward to. So I immediately left home and went to Revelstoke, a place where snowfalls are an epic skiers dreamland. My boyfriend was working there that winter and thus I revelled in the excuse for a holiday. I worked on my downhill technique via downhill skiing ;) and had some excellent ski touring and powder turns in the backcountry while also getting in easy long distance workouts with altitude. The cross country skiing was also great, highly recommend the MacKenzie trail system in Revy. And even entered a BC cup cross country race for the heck of it, while helping out the young local racing team for a good warm up beforehand. I returned back to Canmore, fresh and energized and looked forward to my final races of the season, the Canmore IBU cups. Taking that time off was absolutely crucial for my performance. Crazy, I actually enjoyed racing. I used the exuberant home crowd cheers to pushing me to the line and in 2 of the races shot well, something I hadn't done all season, thus finishing 2nd and 4th in 2 Sprint races. They weren't even perfect races but I left feeling almost like I had achieved an Olympic gold (almost...;)). Purely because of the personal mountain I had to climb over to get back to racing for pure joy. After our National Championships, I took a long break. It started with climbing in Skaha as it was already warm in interior BC in March. Then using all our points, we flew to Thailand for just over a month, to eat, to overheat & sweat profusely and oh ya, to climb climb climb. It was glorious. This could have easily led to me continuing this glorious path of just exploring, eating and climbing. But something in me said, one more year, leave the sport fully enjoying what you had passionately done for half your life. And thus, here I am in Sweden. 

With a few modifications to what I did the previous year plus a high focus on recovery and enjoyment, I had an excellent off season of training with the Biathlon Alberta Training Center. And I focused on the now and "play". I had to do trials to qualify to make it to World Cup 1, and I have to qualify again to make it to World Cup 2...etc. Thus I just focus on now. Today. This moment. Now. Mindfulness... oh and joy, playfulness, gratitude, acceptance, love... I could keep filling in words but you get the point. (key note, being that I truly enjoyed what I was doing and instead of fearing competition why not just go out and play! And more importantly I healed and in the middle of it met an angel.) 

Another major factor that led me to a place of peace and to being satisfied with focusing on the now in training and competing is that I finally discovered an occupation of high interest to me. At one time, physiotherapy or a physical education teacher were going to be my go to post sport. I changed my mind! Yep. It happens. But I was getting stressed. What the heck was I going to do with my life? Sport hasn't left me with millions I could just live off! Anyway, so I discovered birth and the health of mamas just fascinates me. As of this summer, I am now a DONA trained Doula working towards the full DONA international certification. Thus in the spring, I hope that I am supporting mamas in their birthing journey. Possibly I may go further to a midwifery degree but let's not get ahead of ourselves just yet. I also did some wild things like chef-ed a 4 course meal with Christine Nesbitt with locally grown food for a fundraiser (urban farms under YYC Growers & my bro's own farm, Grand Trunk Veggies). Some how my bro coerced me into believing me I had the ability, and we did it! But no, future chef isn't on the list ;p

There you have it... where we are now, a quick 2 year summary, and a brief insight to my personal life which brought me to NOW! Let's get this season started! Onwards...



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