Rise and shine! Race Day is on the horizon. Routine begins. Two hours prior: Eat breakfast. Arrive at race site. Thirty minutes until the start: Time to put on the race skis. Ten minutes and the countdown continues. Stretching and running are the last to-dos on the checklist. Five … 4 … 3… 2 … 1 … The gun blasts. Adrenaline rushes. The race begins and all the nervous jitters liberate.
Annaby Kanning, a current sophomore at Sandpoint High School, knows all too well what race day entails. Currently on the Junior Nationals Team for Nordic skiing, Annaby is a fierce competitor. She is one of only 34 racers on the PNW Junior Nationals Team. Out of these 34 racers, their age brackets range from U16-U20, with Annaby competing in the U16 bracket.
Traveling is appealing to many people and is one aspect of her membership of the Junior Nationals Team that Annaby enjoys as she loves seeing new places, experiencing new mountains, meeting new people and creating lasting relationships with the people she meets.
Annaby’s parents, Becky and Nathan Kanning, are able to attend a few competitions, yet Annaby enjoys each journey nonetheless and appreciates the opportunity to gain independence while being around a team she enjoys. Some of her finest memories of being on the Junior National Team include her teammate relationships. “I love how our team really came together this past year,” Annaby expressed. “They are what make it so fun!”
These connections don’t always come easy, however. Her first year of competing in Nordic, it was difficult to connect with her teammates. Nathan said, “When she first started, there were always at least three to four others skiers training with her. Then last year, she ended up alone. It’s hard to stay motivated as an adult to train hard by yourself, let alone as a 14-year-old high school freshman.” Annaby portrayed her desire to work through these struggles and make the best of her abilities as an athlete. “She inspires us to be better. We are proud of her hard work and perseverance.”
Annaby is also passionate about soccer and golf. She began playing soccer when she was 8 years old. She played soccer for the Sandpoint High School Lady Bulldogs the past two fall seasons on the junior varsity team and plays Strikers during the spring season. Although skiing seems to be the most intense commitment, soccer is the sport that Annaby has loved the longest.
Golf has also been on her radar since she was in the sixth grade. As a Bulldog golfer last year, she was fairly consistent with her scores. “But one game, my best game I got, I was blown away!” said Annaby.
“She knows she may not be the best, but if she’s giggling and having fun, then she hasn’t stopped growing and keeps getting better,” said Becky.
Last year, Annaby was diagnosed with early onset distichiasis-lymphedema, a genetic mutation that attacks the lymphatic system. This mutation leads to swelling within the limbs. For Annaby, her swelling invades her legs, which forces her to wear compression socks whenever she is active. The bottoms of her feet are scarred from popping blood vessels.
The distichiasis portion of the incredibly rare mutation leads Annaby to develop an extra row of eyelashes where oil glands would be. She must pull this extra layer out, because if she doesn’t, she would be unable to see.
Do any of these hurdles disable her from her passions? Absolutely not. When asked what her life motto is, Annaby responded with “Just do it.” She models that nothing stands in her way of improving herself in all aspects of life. Becky said that Annaby is “the athlete that may start at the back but keeps showing up, keeps learning, keeps sweating and keeps improving.” Becky said that no matter what the circumstances, “She always wants more.”
Dedication and motivation are two words that just scrape the surface of describing Annaby. Although she is humble, her older sister, Emerson, praises her little sister for working incredibly hard to be where she is and to further her skills and abilities. Annaby wakes up four days a week at 5:15am to make it to The Shed for her morning workout. “I think wanting more and dreaming big is what pulls her from her cozy, warm bed four days a week,” said Becky.
Annaby’s participation does not end with sports. She is also heavily involved in the community. As a member of the National Honor Society, she dedicates her volunteer hours to a multitude of organizations. “I like volunteering because you get to understand more people and families that you wouldn’t have met otherwise.” On Earth Day she picks trash up at City Beach. During the summer, she volunteers at the PAFE Gala. On Sundays, she provides childcare at her church. She also helps with READY! For Kindergarten. “I love being around little kids, so volunteering for these organizations is super fun in those situations!”
Through everything, there are two people in Annaby’s world that are her rock. “My mom and dad are my idols,” she said. “My dad works all day but still makes time for me at home. And my mom, well she totes me all over the place! They encourage and support me every single day.”
Annaby also has the utmost support and respect from her family. She puts every effort she has into everything she does. Whether it’s her sport or just being a teenager, she proceeds with grace. “She has a sense of humor that lets most of her seemingly ‘extra-ordinary’ decisions push her toward extraordinary goals,” Becky exclaims. “We are incredibly proud of her growth, perseverance and attitude at such a young age.”