It’s hard not to be inspired by Casey Wright, who loves nothing more than the challenge of high speed, high adrenalin XC skiing. Casey already has one Winter Olympics under her belt in 2018, and has her sights set firmly on 2022 in Beijing. Despite all the challenges that a winter sport throws up, Casey is fully motivated to being her best in every competition and training session. We loved hearing her story and supporting her training journey, and hope you will be inspired too…
How did you discover XC Skiing?
Skiing has always been a big part of my family. Both of my parents were outdoor Ed teachers, so going to the snow was a common activity for us. When I was younger, it was not uncommon for my parents to pull me out of school to go skiing for the day, especially when the snow was good. As a kid I was involved in a whole range of sports and would basically try anything I could get my hands on. As I got older, I started to get involved in the racing side of XC skiing. I qualified for the Australian Team for the first time back in 2012 and I have been fully committed to XC skiing since.
Why do you love XC Skiing, and what motivates you?
XC skiing is such a unique sport. Not only do athletes need to develop incredible aerobic capacities, the act of standing on 2 skinny planks going at speeds up to 70km/hr requires significant skill. On top of that, XC skiers need to develop their strength and technique in order to be efficient and fast racers. It is the challenge of fitting all of these puzzle pieces together that has drawn me to XC skiing.
XC skiing also provides the opportunity to get back to the roots of skiing/ snow sports and reconnect with nature. I have had the pleasure to explore some incredible places around the world, most of which are off the beaten track. Some highlights include skiing under the northern lights on a frozen lake in Alaska, skiing through West Yellow Stone National Park in Montana USA, racing in remote alpine villages in Austria, Switzerland and Italy, and skiing through bamboo plantations in Japan.
I am motivated to be the best possible athlete I can be. I know this may sound cliché, but I treat every training session as if it is the defining factor of my athletic career.
What are some of YOUR challenges?
XC skiing is a very small and not widely recognised sport in Australia. As such, there is very minimal support for athletes such as myself. While we do have races during the Australian winter, our main competitions are held overseas over the summer months. With the exception of 2020/2021 summer (thanks COVID) I have spent the last 10 years chasing winter around the world. As you can imagine this is not cheap. I am an entirely self-funded athletes and when I am not training or competing my time is juggled between working and university studies.
What are your results and racing highlights so far?
- Representing Australia at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics
- Representing Australia at the World Cup, World Championships, World U23 Championships, and World Junior Championships
- Representing Australia at the 2017 Asian Winter Games, Japan, where I placed 3rd in the Classic Sprint
- Racing for the University of Alaska Anchorage on the NCAA circuit. Earning NCAA All American honours at my final National Championships
- 5x Australian National Champion
What race destination would you love to go to?
Anywhere where there is snow and mountains!
What’s your big goal?
My main immediate goal is to represent Australia at my second Winter Olympics in Beijing 2022. My qualification period will be from November to Christmas this year and the Games will be held next February.
Do you have a training group?
During the Australian Winter I train with the Australian XC Ski Team at Falls Creek, VIC. This period of time provides a great opportunity to reconnect and push each other to achieve our goals. This time also allows us to work closely with the National team head coach and focus on our technique development.
During the Northern Winter, we typically travel as a team for the racing season. For the past couple of seasons, we have been based in Davos, Switzerland. Here we have access to world class ski trails, some of which are used for World Cup racing, and are centrally located for most of the European races.
When I am not on snow, I am primary based in the Yarra Valley. Here I spend most of the time training by myself or with my dog, Bella.
what’s your race nutrition advice?
Unfortunately, most of my lessons have been learnt the hard way. In ski racing terms I am a sprinter. That means that the longest race that I will do is 10km, with my preferred distance been a sprint event (typically 1.5-2km long, over 2-3minutes). As such, I do not need to worry about in race nutrition, instead fuelling and hydration are key focuses both before and after my event, especially considering I am often racing on consecutive days.
Personally, I find it really hard to eat on race day. There have been a number of times where I have under fuelled and hydrated and have experienced poor energy levels and cramping during the race and subsequently struggled to recover before the next one. It has taken me a while to find what fuel sources I can have on race day and that do not upset my stomach. As such, I always make sure I have my Bindi Sports Hydration drink to provide me with electrolytes and simple carbohydrates. Another source of simple carbohydrates is gummy bears or other lollies. I find them easy to digest and easy to carry, especially when I am trying to warmup before the race.
favourite nutrition tips?
When I am training I am constantly thinking about nutrition and how I am going to fuel myself for the day. My meals are typically structured around my training sessions.
I always make sure that I have sufficient fuel before each training session to get me through. For my longer workouts, over 2hrs, I will take food with me and eat as needed. This is usually a bar of some sorts. I always have water with me with training and depending on duration and weather conditions, I will bring electrolytes with me too. After training, my focus is on recovery. Initially, I focus on getting some simple sugars and carbohydrates on board. An apple or bar usually hits the spot. Within an hour of training I make sure I get some protein in to help kick start the recovery process.
On days where I am completing multiple training sessions, I always make sure I have extra food during the second workout, even for a short 1hr session. After hitting the wall far too many times, I have finally learnt my lesson.
favourite workout music when training?
When I am training by myself, workout music is a must. My play list has a range of songs, but my favourite pump-up tunes are by Client Liaison and Hilltop Hoods.
Who inspires you?
Alisa Champlin was a childhood idol of mine. I can still vaguely remember when she won her Olympic Gold at the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics. I was inspired to see an Australian female standing on the top of the podium in an event we were not well known for.
At the 2018 Winter Olympics I was fortunate enough to have her as part of the Australian support team. To say I was awe struck would be an understatement, however, it was great to have someone like her help me navigate my first Olympic experience.
What is your favourite training session?
My favourite sessions are anything on snow! But when I am dry land training I really enjoy my adventure workouts, especially in the mountains. These are usually a minimum of 4hrs long and give me the opportunity to push myself and take on new challenges. These usually take the form of Mt/ training running or Mt bike riding.
What do you do with your time when not training?
In my spare time, I like to crochet. I decided to teach myself during one of my first season overseas and I have been making headbands for a while now.
I am currently working towards my degree in secondary teaching. When I am not training or competing you will often find me listening to lectures, reading papers or churning out assessments. This is my second degree and I am hoping to graduate mid 2022.
What do love about bindi?
As an Australian athlete I am passionate about finding Aussie made products to use. I love that Bindi is Australian owned and made.
As an elite athlete it is vital that I know what is inside the products I consume. I am very conscious of any products I use to fuel my body. This is not only to ensure that I remain a clean athlete but to also ensure that my body will be in the best possible shape when it counts.
Bindi Sports Hydration drink, especially Melon Mojo, is my go to Bindi product. I have found it to be a valuable hydration source before, during and after training and competitions.