Cross-country skier looking to Beijing, excited about the rise in popularity of the sport

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STRATTON, Vt. (WAVY) – While it feels like the Tokyo Olympics just wrapped up, the Beijing Games aren’t too far away.

Winter Olympic hopefuls haven’t missed a beat and are ready for their chance to compete on the world stage. That includes Julia Kern, who hopes to compete in cross-country skiing.

Kern has always loved to hit the slopes.

“I’ve been skiing since I can remember, since I could walk,” she said recently via Zoom.

The Massachusetts native realized in high school that cross-country skiing was her sport.

She recently graduated from Dartmouth College and moved to Stratton, Vermont to train with her professional team. Kern said, “It’s people who are hard-working, love to be outdoors, love to be environmentally friendly.”

Training includes a lot of time abroad, including in places like Germany, which is where she was in September when WAVY News 10 spoke with her virtually.

“Our team traveled here for a 10-day camp to ski in a refrigerated tunnel that keeps snow,” Kern said.

However, it’s not always cold weather training. Kern says they run and roller-ski often.

“Similar to rollerblading, with poles,” said Kern. “They mimic cross-country skis, but you can do it on the roads.”

While the pandemic made it difficult for many athletes to train and compete, Kern says that wasn’t the case for her. The ability for cross-country skiers to do everything outdoors lessened the impact.

Kern said, “We were lucky, last winter, we actually had a complete season. Only a few World Cups were cancelled.”

In fact, cross-country skiing as a whole boomed.

“Our sport thrived as a whole just from the grassroots, people decided to try cross-country skiing,” said Kern. “Every ski shop was sold out of cross-country skis because people were like ‘well I want to socialize with people, and it’s cold and it’s the winter, the best way to do it is to move on skis.'”

Kern’s eyes are on Beijing, but she’s enjoying every moment it takes to get there.

“I like to focus on the journey and enjoying the process to get there because I think if you’re happy and enjoying what you’re doing, the puzzle pieces will fit together when the time is right,” Kern said.

You can follow along with her journey on her website.

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