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Progress...Or Not? (10/10/13)

BY JON LUJAN


Michelle Ziobro, myself, Kate Arena

Trade Center steel presented to the Semper Fi Fund

Me and Army veteran Anthony Radetic

Michelle, Kate and I after completing the T2T run

Team Semper Fi at the start of the Tunnel to Towers run

Another month has flown by, and I have some good news. Last month in Australia I managed a third place finish in the first giant slalom race and likely secured a spot on the team for Sochi. While I was still not all that impressed with my skiing, this will definitely help to alleviate some of the pressure that has been building. I feel now that I can focus on my training, and concentrate on my technique. I also came to the realization that I can’t be expected to finish every single race and that maybe it’s ok to take some “chances” — what I mean by that is it’s ok to ski on the edge of out of control and not finish the race but still be happy about the way I was skiing before I crashed. I know that sounds slightly ridiculous but it makes sense to me.

Anyhow this month I want to give a huge shout out to the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund and Team Semper Fi. I just am returning from a trip to New York City where I participated in the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Run. It was a 5k run to raise money to build adaptive homes for our severely injured service members. These are warriors who have double, triple and quadruple amputations and also severe burns. I have alluded before how important it is for me to give back to my fellow veterans and this was no exception. It was also my third year participating in the run and I had a personal best. I finished in just under 28 minutes, which crushed my first year time of 50 minutes.

Anyhow, through the course of the weekend I was humbled by the American spirit. I was present when the Semper Fi Fund was honored by the Stephen Siller Foundation with a plaque that was made from some of the Trade Center steel. For some reason, just to be able to touch this piece of steel was comforting. That same night as we were showing this trophy to onlookers at the spaghetti dinner I met two amazing women. They had driven in from Pennsylvania to participate in this run and as we got talking I learned that the aunt (Michelle Ziobro) had prompted her niece (Kate Arena) to go and do the run and in return Kate wouldn’t have to pay anything. The further we talked I learned Kate had joined the Pennsylvania Army National Guard and was due to leave for boot camp on October 15. At first I was worried that she would see all of us wounded warriors and maybe second-guess her decision. But after spending a few hours chatting with her I realized that she is exactly the type of American that I want entering our armed forces. Here is an excerpt from her Facebook page in her own words: “Running T2T (Tunnel to Towers) opened my eyes to a lot of things. For one couldn’t be more pleased with my decision to enlist. Having the opportunity to run with these disabled Marines, firefighters, police officers and their families was inspiring and moving. I have a new level of respect for the Marine Corps and people of New York. Team Semper Fi and the Tunnel to Towers Foundation are great organizations; I encourage everyone that can to get involved.”

I can tell you one thing — that is one great young American. I imagine that she will end up with a greater respect of the Army after she finishes boot camp. But her words are very true to fact. I also have to mention that I did beat her on the run. So, Kate, I’m issuing you two challenges: First: Next year, you better beat me. Second: When times get tough during boot camp (which there is no doubt in my mind that they will), that you think of the men and women who you ran with at T2T and never give up!

I was able to spend time before, during and after the race with both Kate and her Aunt Michelle and I was honestly sad to see them leave to drive back to PA. It’s pretty awesome when you meet people you just click with. I hope to maintain that friendship with the two of them for a very long time. Truth is I kind of felt this deep connection to Michelle so I am hoping that that goes somewhere. But for now I am happy to have them as friends.

On a final note I am wrapping up my summer here at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. and will be making my transition back up to my winter training area with AVSC (Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club). I get to take one more trip to Washington, D.C. to attend the Marine Corps Marathon with Team Semper Fi. No, I will not be running in it; I am going to mentor and cheer on my teammates at the start and finish line. Then, starting in November, we are back on snow and putting the nose to the grindstone! It is 148 days until the Opening Ceremony in Russia! WOW, I am feeling recharged, positive and ready to go. I am also trying to use the power of positive thought to envision myself competing in Russia and also reading books with positive messages that encourage positive thoughts.

Excerpt from the book “The Red Circle,” written by Navy Seal Brandon Webb (page 350): “He spent the next few years interviewing dozens of gold medal champions…he found there were two specific traits they all had in common. First was complete and total confidence. Not arrogance of cockiness, but an absolute, unshakeable confidence in their ability to perform regardless of adversity…It’s an attitude that says I will win no matter what!”

There was obviously much more meat to this section of the book but this really struck home with me. So, in conclusion, I am going to say yes, there has been progress. Now I need to translate that mental progress onto the hill!

As always thanks for all of your support for our team and myself! Go Team USA!!!

Don't forget to follow my journey on Twitter: @JonnyVolcano44, or Facebook: Jon Lujan Adaptive Alpine Skier.