After an impressive high-level cross-country ski racing career that began with her first BC Cup race when she was eight, Alysson Marshall is moving on.
Marshall realized in mid-winter that her body wasn’t responding to training as well as it previously had.
“I had plateaued, stopped progressing… There were a lot of indications I wasn’t able to handle the training load and wasn’t able to recover quickly,” she explains, noting her performances reflected it.
The problems initially showed up with her thyroid, which is back to normal now. She said it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what went wrong.
“The best athletes are the ones who can push themselves and push themselves and never have anything that goes wrong – and no weak link. And I think that’s what went on me when I pushed too hard.”
Still, although Marshall was not able to participate in her ultimate dream of competing in the Olympics, her career has been nothing short of outstanding.
She has competed in two U23 World Championships and Junior World Championships as well as more than 40 World Cup races.
Marshall, now 27, began skiing at Larch Hills when she was two, taking part in her first loppet, six kilometres, at age four.
In 2003 at age 15 she went to her first Nationals and Canada Games.
That was the beginning of a trend. Marshall competed in 12 years of Nationals from 2003 to 2015, wrapping up her career with her last one this year.
In 2009 she was selected to the Canadian National Team, and she has skiied for the past six years at the sport’s highest level.
She singles out a World Cup classic sprint in Stockholm in 2012 as a highlight.
“It was where I crossed the top 30 in the World Cup. It’s an amazing place to race. It was right in front of the Royal Palace in Stockholm and they trucked in snow. Everything came together and that was really a highlight, as I got World Cup points. The top 30 standard is where you want to get to.”
She also enthuses about all her teammates and the many places she’s been able to travel.
The hardest part of her racing career was the past two years.
“To go from a place where I thought I had a lot of momentum, was improving a lot and was able to really trust my body to respond to training – to a couple of hard years to never know how my body would respond to training and racing situations.
“To get a taste of where I wanted to go and then drop from there was really difficult.”
She was able to take some time to come to grips with it, and to know this year’s Nationals would be her last.
Studying also helped her transition. Her plan is to become a medical doctor, so she says she has her fingers crossed as she awaits the results of her application.
She’s going to university in Thunder Bay where her fiancé, who is also a skier and trained in Canmore with her, is attending. They plan to be married next summer.
In the meantime, she’s on the university ski team.
“More to be in touch with skiing and have a fun group of girls to get active with. I’m not planning on doing much racing.”
She would like to coach at the provincial and possibly the national level. And she says she is honoured to have been part of such a great ski community in Salmon Arm.
Asked who has influenced her ski career the most, she says her mom gets the vote for her many years of support.
As for advice for aspiring racers, Marshall emphasizes:
“There’s no need to get stressed and anxious over races. You can do it for a long time. One BC Cup race isn’t the end of the world.
“Just having fun is the best advice I can give. There are so many cool people, fun places to see, training lots – enjoy the process.”