After finishing the season a lot has happened. Starting in May I began my training with the USA Nordic Combined Team, which was the team that I qualified for this winter. Training for the first few months of of the summer was very good I could feel myself getting faster every day and with a new coach for Ski Jumping, Nic Huber, from Austria I was very confident in our ability to improve on our weaker side of the sport. Nic was the coach for the Norwegian Nordic Combined team over the last 5 years and brought great success to them. When we heard that he could possibly be our coach for the coming years we as a whole team were very excited.
Also in April I started my Junior year of High School at the Winter Sports School. Luckily the teachers are very understanding about training. Therefore helping me to be able to complete the necessary training. Through the month of June we had a very large distance block, this means we did a lot of minutes and long slow distance workouts. But one of the best things in June was our trip to New York for the CRI Ride. This ride was a fundraiser to benefit the Cancer Research Institute. We were there for four days and rode close to 250 miles. It was a great experience with great people.
The week after that we worked our way to Steamboat for the annual Fourth of July competition and camp. It was fun to get our first competition out of the way for the summer and everyone on the team competed at a very high level. After we went home we had three weeks of good intensity training and jumping before nationals. When National came I was excited to see what I could do considering my success getting 7th last year. Especially because I was jumping well.
At the event I was a little underwhelmed by my first jump in the trial round, which stressed me out. This unfortunately made me want to try harder (which by the way isn't what you want to do usually) in my first competition round, I didn't quite have the jump I was looking for and would be starting 6th in the race. After that jump I remembered that less is sometimes more and the next jump had a much better jump, flying just short of the K Point. The race would be held that afternoon at Soldier Hollow. At this point all of the athletes headed over to Midway. It was nearly 100 degrees at the race course that afternoon meaning all competitors would have to be very hydrated for the race. In the race I managed to hold my spot in 6th place. This was a personal best result at US Nationals for me. I was very happy about this and was ready for the next chapter of the summer heading out to Europe the next weekend.
Throughout the end of the winter i was in Europe competing in Continental Cups and World Junior Championships. The Continental Cups in Europe were harder than the ones that I did earlier in the year in Park City, my home town. This was partially due to the higher level of competitors that came with the increased number of athletes in these competitions. The first of the COCs (Continental Cups) I competed in was in Ramsau, Austria. This competition was full of athletes of young ages planning on going to world juniors two weeks later. In this competition I had good jumps in both of the competitions. Starting the races in the top 30 both days. However I was not able to capitalize on my jumping and fell out of the top thirty during the race. After these races we went back to Planica, Slovenia, our home base in Europe. There we had about a week and a half of very good training preparing for our big event in Rasnov.
When we got to Romania we were very surprised by the warm temperatures and lack of snow. We hoped that in the next couple of days that it would snow. But it did not. Luckily the event organizers were able to get enough snow together for us to jump. We finished all of our jumping competitions in only 2 days. Later we had our races, the first race which was a 10 kilometer individual I finished in 31st place which was a good result for it being only my first year at world juniors. The next competition we had the team event. We, as a team started fairly far back which was not bad but we hoped to be further up. In this event we skied up to 6th place. This was the best result that team USA has had at World Juniors in over 10 years. The final competition was a 5 kilometer individual race, In this race I had a good pace going into the first lap and felt like I could keep my position and pull some of the athletes that started ahead of me in. But in the second lap I fell, twice. However there was an upside to the race, it showed me that I can compete with the best my age.
Soon after we went to Chaux-Neuve, France for a couple more competitions. While there we were not able to ski near where we were staying due to a lack of snow. In the competitions I had one of my best result in the European continental cups. I managed to have one of my best races putting me just behind points in 31st place. The week after we took the long drive to Klingenthal, Germany for the finale. In these competitions I did not have great results. But because of these underwhelming results it gave me even more motivation to train harder this coming summer and come back stronger in the 2016/2017 season.
Since my last post a lot has happened! I have had a month full of training and competition. This began with the first junior national qualifier in Park City where I finished third in the special jumping but was able catch back up to the leaders and finish first in the race. After two more weeks of training in Park City my teammates and I headed to Steamboat for the second Junior Nationals Qualifier. Where I did much better than in Park City. In Steamboat I jumped much better and finished first in the special jumping on the K68 and second on the K90. We raced a few hours later and I was feeling good, I was starting first and it was only a 5 kilometer race. The race went by fast and I finished first with the fastest U16 time. I felt ready to go to Europe and compete against the best my age at the Nordic World Junior Championships in Rasnov, Romania.
The first time I went to the Utah Olympic Park in Park City, Utah was the summer after I turned five. My dad took me and my sister up to see the park and enjoy the rides. But something unexpected happened I met some of the athletes that were ski jumping that day. They lifted me over the barrier at the top and invited me to watch. In sat there for over an hour mesmerized by the jumpers flying through the air, from that moment on I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Only a couple of years after I started jumping my dad introduced me to cross country skiing. This new addition to the sport I already loved, although I may not have realized it then, added a new challenge to my sport and so my years as a Nordic combined athlete began.
Since then I have had some exciting successes and one broken bone (not bad for ten years of ski jumping). To get you up to date I'll start with last winter. Last winter at the start of the year I was jumping very well and skiing fast and managed to qualify for Junior World Ski Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan but due to age restrictions was not able to attend the competition (you have to be 15 to go I was 14). Because I was to young for World Juniors I had to set my sights on something else, Junior National Championships. The entire season was going well with a few wins in small competitions along the way, then came Junior Nationals the event I'd been training for all winter. I had some great jumps that set me ahead in the races where I was able to stay in front having the second fastest time. I came out of this competiton with 4 medals from the four events I competed in. Gold in the individual special jumping and in the Nordic combined, I also got gold with my teammate Jared Shumate in the Nordic Combined team event, and finished third in the special jumping team event (special jumping is just ski jumping without the cross country skiing after).
A few days after that I headed to Trondheim, Norway for the FIS Youth Cup where I finished 3rd the first day and 7th the second day. At the beginning of the summer I was named to the US National Development Team. Because I was named to this team I was privileged enough to go to Europe for 3 weeks in August of 2015 to train and partake in some small competitions. Which brings us to this winter. This winter has been going very well for me so far. In our first race of the year in Steamboat Springs, Colorado I finished in 5th overall. 2nd out of the juniors which meant I was able to compete in the Contenential Cup in Park City on my home jump. So the competitions came as I did well I finished in the top thirty all three days finishing in 25, 26, and 27th scoring a total of 15 points prequalifiying me for world juniors in Rasnov, Romania. Last week we had the final qualifier for world juniors, I didn't have the best jump but knew I had to make the best of it in the race. So starting 1 minute and 58 seconds behind my teammate Ben Loomis and only 30 seconds behind my teammate Tucker Hoefler, and steamboat athlete Koby Vargas I had some work to do. By the end of the race I had caught Tucker and Koby getting second knowing that hopefully I had made it to World Juniors at the acceptable age of 15.