As we start the 2020-21 ski and snowboard racing season, US Ski and Snowboard Team snowboard racer, and Arctica Ambassador, Myles Silverman reflects on COVID and racing over the past 9 months and looks forward to the 2020-21 season. This blog post was written by Myles.
From South Korea to quarantined
As of April, it was wild to think about what had taken place in the previous month and a half. It is hard to believe that in late February I had the chance to compete at Pyeongchang, South Korea, at the former 2018 Olympic venue, and now the 2020 summer Olympics are postponed. I know for myself this raised many questions about how COVID will affect my training and racing for the 2020-21 season.
I remember getting off the flight from Atlanta to Seoul in February and seeing how nearly everyone had face masks on, and I was singled out because I did not. But what is even more mind blowing is that at the time of my arrival, South Korea only had 29 cases of COVID-19. But on my two hour journey from the Seoul airport to my FIS housing in Pyeongchang I felt optimistic about staying healthy; as I washed my hands regularly with hand sanitizer, I tried to focus more of my energy on preparing for the upcoming World Cup. This was my second FIS World Cup start, and I wanted to do all I possibly could to be mentally prepared.
Unforuntately, the conditions were extremely icy, and nearly half the WC field crashed. I ended up DQ. Even though the competition did not go as planned, I felt as though it still was a great experience; I was able to travel to South Korea and compete on the 2018 Olympic slope! This would also be an advantage if I ever go back to Pyeongchang to compete.
While in South Korea, I think the idea of the virus initially hit me when I was boarding a train to leave from Pyeongchang to Seoul. Everyone had on masks, and I was afraid any contact would infect me. I could have easily been one of the first US citizens to contract COVID-19. Luckily, I didn’t contract the virus.
When I returned to the U.S. from China in March, I was not placed into quarantine by TSA or my school, so I see how easily I could have spread the virus had I been infected. So I took all necessary precautions and self-quarantined. Upon return, no one in the U.S. was wearing masks, classes were still in session, large gatherings were still happening. But then, everything changed. Covid cases began to sky rocket. The US Ski and Snowboard Team ended the season early and recalled all of their athletes from abroad. The U.S. banned international travel. This all feels surreal.
The uncertainty of it all
My summer was mostly spent in quarantine with my family. My sister returned from NYC, and our whole family was able to become much closer, which was nice. Nearly every day was spent at the local college field for some sort of training. I downloaded an app called “SugarWOD” which provided me with high intensity workouts everyday. It was fun because it enabled me to compete against other users all over the world. Unfortunately, since travel was banned, I was unable to train on snow in France over the summer as I was planning, but for everything that I missed with snowboarding, I ended up gaining with my dryland training.
As COVID-19 continues to spread and I have one more semester of college left before I graduate, I am left to wonder about what the future holds for the upcoming season. My original plan was to finish up at Hobart and William Smith Colleges by December and then focus all of my energy on my snowboarding. But with the future of college classes in question everyday, I am uncertain what my competition season will look like.
In contrast to my arrival in South Korea, when their infection rates were low yet everyone was wearing masks, I am still amazed that as of late August, when the United States hit 400,000 COVID cases, when in the grocery store maybe half of the people I saw were taking such precautions.
Training through Covid-19
Despite the uncertainty, I am doing all that I can to use this quarantine to my advantage. As the famous PGA player, Ben Hogan, once said:
If you can’t outplay them, out work them.
Thankfully, I live in Maine, and Maine as a whole has been relatively unaffected by the virus. Most of the state is very rural and sparsely populated except for a handful of areas. In my small town of Brunswick, Maine, gyms began to re-open in late June. But for me, my workouts began long before that. By the end of March I realized that this was a perfect opportunity to get ahead of the competition. While fellow competitors were finding excuses, I have been staying consistent. Working out every single day. Each day, no matter the weather or how I am feeling, I have set aside time to keep my body in shape and limber.
Using technology for better training
It is because of the training apps SugarWOD, Comptrain, Whoop, and Myfitnesspal I am able to have a routine, and follow it. Comptrain offers rigorous daily workouts. It is primarily crossfit oriented, but I figure that the high cardio/interval training will progressively make me stronger. From just following this site since March, I have noticed an immense change in my performance. After a summer of working out on my own this shows that I am able to achieve things that I put my mind to. With a consistent mentality and a goal of one day competing for the U.S. at the Winter Olympics, I can get there.
For additional training this summer, and to raise money for a good cause I created Jump Rope for Justice with my good friend Bryce Noel. We created it as a means to combine a healthy activity and to spread awareness about Anti-Semitism and Black Lives Matter.
This is only the beginning; as I see the progress that I have made, and I am proud of my perseverance, I find that I am only hungry to push myself to do more.
On COVID and racing in the 2020-21 Season
This season will definitely be a game changer. If everything goes as planned, I will be graduating this December from Hobart, and then I will be traveling to Europe to train and compete. As competitions in North America are currently up in the air, I feel as though the best plan is to live and train with some of the best athletes from Austria. Training with higher level competitors will allow my riding to progress and I will also be able to experience travel to new places in Europe.
Since beginning my college career, I have not been able to train and compete as much as I did before entering college. This caused my FIS points to fall. But now with graduation near, my eyes are set on the 2022 and 2026 Winter Olympics. I will be training nonstop with no distractions to be completely prepared and ready to accomplish my childhood dreams.
Traveling to Europe during the pandemic
You may think that training in Europe is not possible since U.S. citizens are technically banned from international travel. But that is not the case! It is actually less restrictive than traveling to Canada. If you are an athlete with specific training or competition plans, and two negative COVID tests, the EU will allow you to travel. I personally believe currently, that traveling to Europe is much safer than traveling in the States. Since many US citizens are not taking the virus seriously or taking proper precautions I feel that leaves many U.S. resorts vulnerable. I feel as though it makes the most sense to seize the opportunity to travel to different countries, see new sights, and train with other high level riders.
For more information about Myles racing career read this Boston Globe article from May 2020.