Anna Gibson, now running for Brown University, competed in both cross country running and IMD nordic throughout her high school years in Jackson, WY. Though, not merely participating in both sports, Anna found a balance between the two allowing her to claim national recognition in both arenas and claimng individual national titles.
High level multi-sport athletes are not unheard of, but does it come at a cost? Is there a benefit to focusing on two sports at a national level? Can this continue into college?
Anna made it work well in high school and she has her own words below describing her experience.
"If you are a multi-sport high school athlete, there is no doubt you have felt pressure, at one time or another, to “choose your sport”. Whether this sentiment came from a coach, a teammate, a parent, or another person in your life, I am certain you have heard it.
In high school, I ran cross country in the fall, Nordic skied in the winter, and ran track in the spring. Pressure to choose which sport was my primary focus came from people in each of the three domains. You can’t balance it all, they said. You can’t reach the highest level if you don’t do sport-specific training out of season. At least that’s what they told me.
I felt pressure from each sport to give it all of my attention and all of my time. While I never actually considered dropping one sport to chase after my lofty goals in the other, I was certainly frustrated and overwhelmed by the underlying pressure to do so. It was intimidating to toe the line at early season Nordic races knowing my competitors had done weeks upon weeks of summer roller skiing, hill bounding, and Nordic specific strength, well aware that my training consisted almost entirely of running miles. The same was inherently true at the start of track season; people would outsprint me simply because I had lost leg speed while I focused on skiing through the winter months.
Outside of those who know me well, most people are surprised to learn that I was national champion in both Nordic and track within several months. How is it possible to excel in two different sports? In my opinion, being a multi-sport athlete gives an individual a leg-up many ways, most measurably in competition.
By the end of the season, I would be as competitive, if not more competitive, than someone who had specialized in the sport. So much of high school competition simply has to do with general athleticism and fitness, high levels of determination, consistency, and a positive work ethic. It does not matter how you acquire these skills, as long as you do so and are able to execute them in any realm."
Thanks Anna for staying connected to IMD and passing your experience on to future generations. Good luck in college and don't forget to go for ski when back home for the holidays!