Every year in July, the Nordic Combined Team does a camp in Steamboat Springs, Colorado over the Fourth of July. We all look forward to this camp as we get to compete on the fourth in front of hundreds of people, which doesn't happen much for us while in the United States. However this camp is not only fun it can also be grueling. With two races and having to walk up the 60 meter it makes this week quite a training camp. The Fish Creek Time trial is the hardest day of the week surely as it is a 25 minute race almost all up hill that we do anually to see how much we have improved in that 365 day period.
After this race we had a day to relax before we competed in the Fourth of July competition. This competition is special because we jump the day before we race so we can race on Lincoln Avenue the morning of the 4th. The jumping on the 3rd didn't go great for me but none the less I was excited for the race in the morning. The next morning most of the town showed up to race, the race went by super fast then it was time for the long standing that afternoon. So we went to the hill and started jumping this was when the real crowd showed up.
As soon as we finished jumping we joined the 4th festivities, such as swimming in the river, going to barbecues and watching the light show that replaced the usual fireworks. After the fourth we spent two more days in the Boat and then it was time to get back home and prepare for Nationals at the end August. Here are some pictures from the events.
Going into a new Olympic cycle is exciting, its like a fresh start, everything starts over and you have 4 years to get yourself together to perform on the worlds biggest stage. Especially after this year, our team as a whole did not perform up to what we had hoped on the larger stages of the sport causing some confusion and frustration with everyone (coaches and athletes alike). This is precisely the reason I am exited to start a new four years with practically an entirely new and very young Nordic Combined Team. The youngest that the US has had in a very long time. With the oldest person being Taylor at 28 and the next five guys all between 22(Jasper) and 18(myself) we have lots of potential to grow and improve.
Starting the new year we took some time off to relax and re-center before going into another full summer of training and travel. The spring was easy with plenty of skiing, biking, and other fun outdoor activities that were missed over the winter and needed to be tended to. But as soon as our very quick 3-4 weeks of "vacay" was over we were right back in the thick of training full time. The first camp was in Bend, Oregon, a beautiful place where we were able to ski every morning and ride bikes every afternoon. We got a very full week of good training in there and then moved on to Hood River where we had one more week of the camp and enjoyed our lucky, sunny weather.
After a great first camp in Oregon we had some time at home before our next camp where we were going to work with our new team sponsor, The Mayo Clinic. The Mayo Clinic was a great experience where the whole USA Nordic Team was together testing and learning more about our bodies and exactly what we need to work on. After testing at their facility in Minneapolis, we headed up north to Coleraine, Minnesota to get our first jumps of the season. This was great, most of us got to jump a new hill and get our bearings back under us. Overall it was a very successful camp that everyone enjoyed and learned a lot from it. This especially was an exciting way to kick off the summer, everyone in one place sharing the thing they love. A perfect way to start our new year
With a slow start to the season in Klingenthal with a crash and only being able to compete once, I was extra motivated to do well in the next Continental Cups in Ruka, Finland and Otepaa, Estonia. While I was home I was able to get some much needed rest and family time after breaking my nose in Klingenthal in the second jumping competition. But after one week of letting my nose heal back into place I was back at training. Two weeks after getting home there was a World Junior Championships Qualification being held that I was extremely excited for to see who would be on the team for World Juniors. Everything with the competitions went smoothly and I was able to put together two solid competitions finishing first in the 5k event and second in the 10k event. After this event the team was decided and was looking strong and every one was getting excited for the event.
With momentum and confidence building I was ready to head back overseas to Ruka, Finland for the next two Continental Cups. With Ruka being one of the most infamous big hills in the world I was excited to redeem myself from the crash I had in Klingenthal. Finland was pretty much what everyone told me it would be like with barely any light and almost always being cold. The first few days were great with easy skiing on endless trails in a winter wonderland where everything was white with snow, the only problem that was we hadn't jumped yet. This was where I really saw what people had said about Ruka for as long as I can remember. It was windy! We went the week without jumping until Thursday when we had a window where we could get some training jumps before the competitions. We all warmed up as usual and did catches with our coach as usual.
Riding up the jump on the chair lift the wind was very calm, then as soon as I got to the takeoff I felt, once again, the extreme Ruka wind. One of the most nerve racking things that can happen on a ski jump is when you can barely hold your skis from flying out of your hands because of wind. As soon as the hill was ready we went to the start gates and started to put our equipment on. I looked down the hill seeing that the wind had calmed down realizing that it was simply windy at the top of the ski jump. The session went well and I had the hill mostly figured out all I needed was to do jump well the next three days in competition. The next day we did our pre-race intervals and had our PCR jump. All three rounds went well for me, in both training rounds I was in the top 15, now all I had to do was jump well in the PCR. When I took my jump I thought I was mostly out of it however with wind compensation I was able to secure a ninth place position, with my teammates also jumping well placing in 13th and 14th.
The next day was the first competition and the waiting began. The wind was all over the place and the competition got pushed back three hours. Eventually we finally did get to jump. I didn't have the jump I'd wanted but I was in the points so I was ready to race as fast as I could to stay and even move up places. In the race I felt great and skied with two of the fastest guys on the circuit. By the end of the race I knew I had moved up some places and I finished in 18th place with the 13th fastest time which was a personal best. The next day we had another competition and the same thing happened with the jumping it got pushed back again and again until they eventually decided to cancel and race off of the PCR. I was happy with this decision because i was sitting well, in 9th place I knew if I skied like I had the day before I would be in line for a personal best. At the beginning of the race I was ready to go and excited, however I had not anticipated how tired I was from the day before. By the end of the race I hadn't had the race I'd hoped for but finished in 13th, my first top 15! Overall I was ecstatic about the weekend having two top 15 results in the two days. These two results made me excited going into the next weekend in Otepaa, Estonia where I had two more races before World Junior Championships at home in Park City.
Results day 1 Ruka
Results day 2 Ruka
Results day 1 Otepaa Results day 2 Otepaa
As the summer season ended in Slovenia with a great trip and some far jumps we were excited to get on snow. However when we got home to Park City, Utah there was no sign of winter, it was 70 degrees and as dry as can be. As it came closer and closer to the time we normally would start jumping nothing had changed and everyone began to worry about training before our season opener in Klingenthal.
School came to an end and I went on the usual trip over Thanksgiving to West Yellowstone, Montana. West Yellowstone is one of the places I look most forward to going to every year. It is a perfect place to start the season with an awesome atmosphere and great snow, there is just one problem. There is no ski jump! So after one week in West skiing every day I came home hoping that the hill would be ready to jump.
The day after I got home the hill was not ready, my old coach texted me and asked me and some old teammates to go help get the hill ready. We went up and got the snow blowers going and got the snow in the track. Two days later we had our frist jumps of the season on snow! The jumping was great the hill was practically perfect we had three sessions and my jumping form was close to what I was hoping for. With two weeks left until the first COC of the year we awere on our way to Euorpe.
The first week we were in Europe we were trying to shine up our jumping shape before Klingenthal the next weekend. That week was very successful with 4 jumping sessions two weight sessions and a time trial. With an awesome week of training under my belt I was excited to get to Klingenthal. The first day in Klingenthal was greatthe whole team was jumping at a good level and in the PCR everyone was in good position. Going into the first day of competition we all couldn't wait to see what we could do. The jumping was good and i was starting the race in 28th position, in the points. The race came and I knew the skis from Atomic were going to be fast with our wax tech Tomas waxing them. The race started and I was feeling good. There was a very fast pace in the race in fact it took just over 10 minutes and 50 seconds for me to finish. I finished the race in 29th my best result I had ever had in Europe. Excited for the next day I stretched as I always do and went to sleep early.
In the second competition I was happy with my trial jump and was hoping to do the same thing in the competition round. The jump didn't go exactly as I planned. On my landing my ski caught an edge and I crashed hard. After I stoped sliding down the icy outrun I was helped to the ambulance and to get checked out. The EMTs wanted to take me to the hospital to get further examination. The doctors told me I had broke my nose but was fortunate enough not to get a concussion. So the competing came to an end for this trip. The other guys had two great days with two top ten results and we were on our way home. Luckly the next week was ment to be a rest week so I was able to let my face and nose heal and I the week after Christmas I was right back out there.