Zina Kocher

3 x Olympian World Cup Medallist

Coming up short...

Haven’t blogged in ages (well since right after I retired actually). But no studying, an important race today = time to blog.   

Today was a race day. Olympic selections race day to be exact. Today I gave it my all and came up short of the goal. C’est la vie! Such is life. Am I disappointed? Of course. Do I have regrets? No….  I would have had regrets if I had not given it a chance. If I had not allowed myself to believe. If I had not put in the effort and the time and the dedication that I did these last 6 months. As hard as it is to accept when things don’t go as planned, we have to remember our reason WHY. The reason deep down. The journey. And then to move on.

(Marley is ready for race day!)


What’s the whole story you say?

Well, this summer I decided that I was going to come back to sport and train for cross country skiing. The goal was to be at my best today, to compete at the 2018 Olympic Selection/NorAm Competitions at Mont Sainte Anne and make one of the distance spots for the 2018 Olympics. Today was the 15km Skiathlon race (7.5km classic, 7.5km skate). My best discipline is skate distance, and at the Olympics this year, there is a 10km skate. Which ultimately, I was aiming for. Unfortunately, as sport is not always ‘straightforward’… the selection races do not have a 10km skate, but a 10km classic and a skiathlon for distance races. Fair in some ways, not in others. But that’s a political discussion for another time.

I really had quite a ride this year. I retired in the spring of 2016 from Biathlon, played a bit, worked a bit and went to school, living half the time in Calgary, half in Canmore. I got engaged, I got married and was loving life. As with life though, there were also tough times, most major and soul shattering was the sudden death of my long-time coach Richard Boruta about a week after my wedding. It was after this, I decided I had to go for it. Go after this racing goal that we had talked about in the spring. For myself because I always wanted to, the fire was there. And for Richard, who thought it was a great fun challenge. And because, why not?

So this summer, I finished my first year of my Massage Therapy Diploma at Mount Royal University in Calgary, switched to part time in my 2nd year and put more focus on training. I started to learn the technicalities of classic skiing, thanks to my new awesome coach Justin Wadsworth… As I spent the last 16 years focusing on biathlon, I was truly a skate skier. Classic skiing was something we did for recovery and long easy skis. Skate skiing was my bread and butter. (I really love skate skiing.) Classic skiing to me was walking, out for a Sunday stroll with your buds. Ok, it is really great for long strolls in the forest. But I sure didn’t know how to move quick and efficiently. Heck I still am not… just better than I was a few months ago!

So many first times this year, in life & in skiing! Regular classic intensity work, more double pole high intensity work and classic technique sessions. From the AB level to North American cup level, I did my first 10km classic race, my first 5km classic race, my first classic sprint race, and today my first 15km skiathlon race. I repeat, my first skiathlon 15km for Olympic trials. I say repeat because I am reminding myself too, that I had a high outcome goal for something I had never done before at the age of 35. I may feel like I was defeated by the classic technique, but I came a long way in a few months. I am proud for having attempted it, given it my all and finishing 7th. And Richard is probably out there smiling, proud I nailed a quick exchange zone (biathlon skills aiding me there), stoked I put in the hard work to get here and now giving me a tease about having kids before my eggs dry up.


In the end, the reality is, it’s only a ski race. In the end, we set goals for the challenge, the possibility to achieve something great, or a dream, a passion, something to satisfy the soul, to be better. In the end, whatever happens, we have to be happy with having tried, having dared to dream and go after that dream. That is what it is about! #tributetoRich Thanks for pushing me to dream big! #goforit

(2nd overall at Haywood NorAm mini tour in Rossland, BC)

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