Nordic Combined Athlete
Jumping Farther, Skiing Faster
The weekend of Ramsau, Austria is here. Despite very warm temperatures and almost no natural snow they have managed to put together their usual full 2.5 km course and the jump hill. The weekend forecast calls for warm sunny weather so it might seem like a springtime race. Nonetheless I am looking forward to getting back into the action!
Last weekend I spent helping the team at the Continental Cups in Park City, UT. The comps were a success for our team with a number of athletes scoring either their first points or landing a much-needed podium. Personally I spent the weekend fore jumping, testing skis with our wax techs, and cheering as loud as I can give splits. As you may already know Taylor skied extremely fast on the XC course all three days landing himself a 3rd place, a 2nd place and a 1st place on the last day. But the highlights didn’t stop there. Almost every single one of the competitors achieved a personal best finish. I was impressed and motivated by these performances because it shows just how much depth our team has built over the last 3 years. The potential of the young guns is awesome and I really hope they can see it through.
For me it was good to go home and reset after the first block of competitions. I got a boost of energy and some good training at home and I hope to carry that momentum into Ramsau. After this weekends competitions we have a short break for Christmas and then the real bulk of the season begins. I will most likely spend 8-9 weeks on the road because of the competition schedule. I am looking forward to some steady weekends of competition, but there is no doubt that spending that length of time on the road will come with it’s challenges. Nikki will be joining me for a few days in the midst of it all that will give us both an opportunity to recharge for a bit. I am also very excited to show her what goes on behind the scenes at the world cup.
On a completely different note, the year-end is approaching fast, and if you’re interested in donating to ccThrive now is the time to do so! Please feel free to contact me with any questions or simply go to www.ccthrive.org to donate online. It’s very simple to donate and all donations are tax deductible! Thanks and follow my results from the weekend on Twitter or Facebook!
Well the Ruka Nordic Opening has come and gone. Yet no nordic combined competitions have happened yet. In my 8 years on World Cup I have never seen a weekend get entirely blown out. Sure, we have had 1 event in a weekend blown out several times, however to not only have the provisional blown out, but also the two days of competitions blown out is rare. That is exactly what happened in Ruka, Finland.
Needless to say we did a lot of waiting on the wind to no avail. However when it comes down to it, I think every athlete was happy that we did not start. It comes down to safety when the winds were as strong as they were. I am happy the safety was recognized because there is no point in risking the season for the athletes in the first event of the season.
The thing about waiting is it is almost harder then skiing in the comps. One has to sit around relaxed but also be ready to compete at a moments notice. Most of the weekend the competition was only pushed back by 30 minutes at a time. Meaning that 15 minutes from the time of delay, the first athletes have to start getting ready to go up to the top. So as you can imagine being in that state of preparedness for the entire day is exhausting, but that is what makes a world cup athlete. A world cup athlete is one who can perform at their best consistently despite any number of variables thrown at them. I often say what makes a good world cup athlete is not how well you can perform when the conditions are perfect, but instead how well you can perform in the worst conditions. Hard courses, soft snow, ice, wind, rain, falling snow, spotty grooming, snowmobiles, delays, horrible mattresses, buffet food that is both good and bad are just a few of the things you will deal with on the circuit. But I am not complaining those challenges are what make it so much fun to be on the circuit. They are also where the best stories come from.
The art of waiting is probably different for most people, but I think a key to success on this circuit is being able to wait patiently. Which is typically hardest on the down days. Today is one of those days since it’s my recovery day. After last weekend’s cancellation I am ready to go here in Lillehammer and get this season under way. Since there is no fast forward button, waiting patiently is the only option. So what is the plan for today? Well I will read my book which is currently, The idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky, next I will probably do a little jog followed by some imitations and jumping work, to recover from that I will work on ccThrive, and lastly the team and I will go see the Hunger Games Mocking jay Part 2 tonight. The last part is only fitting because two years ago when we were here, we ventured out to see the first Hunger Games. So it seems natural to finish the series where it started for us.
Tomorrow we will kick of the season with our official training and provisional competition rounds. Saturday will be a Team event and Sunday will be an individual event. Just incase you haven’t heard, all of our events will be broadcast live at the time of the event on NBC Universal in the USA. You can get our events on the NBC Sports Live Extra app or on your TV if you get the NBC Universal channel. The app usually gives the timetable for our events so you can see what time it will be on where you live. So obviously I highly encourage you to tune in and watch! It will be some of the best World Cup action you will see on TV.
Next week if you are in PC come out to the Continental Cup competitions on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The comps will take place at the UOP and Soldier Hollow and I promise there will be some stiff competition for the podium. I will post a timetable for the events next week.
Thanks for reading and check back next week for a new update.
My blog is back with a big update to kick off the 2015/16 season! Well technically it never went anywhere, I just took a break from updating it to focus on another project. That project of course was the charity I co-founded. Have you heard of it? Well if not, it’s truly pushing a new frontier in the childhood cancer community. We are one of the first and only organizations that will provide long-term support to childhood cancer survivors. The name of our organization is ccThrive. Its name extrapolated, stands for Thriving after childhood cancer, or at the very least that is what we are hoping to get kids to do. Our first step in this process will be raising awareness that kids can thrive post treatment. To do this we have established a group of ccThriver’s. This group is compiled of childhood cancer survivors, including myself, who have accomplished things that at one point in their life would have been considered extremely unlikely. These powerful stories are perfect examples of thriving. Getting these stories into the hospitals and the childhood cancer community of patients, families, and providers can change the outlook of so many individuals. Each story is positive, optimistic and most importantly realistic. But we want to do more then just get the stories out there; we want to get the actual group of ccThriver’s out there. In doing so we will be raising awareness by providing that tangible link between the childhood cancer patient of yesterday and thriving survivor today. That tangible link is so important, it gives the kids and their families an opportunity to ask questions or interact with our ambassadors. This process will help individuals define their own optimistic but realistic goals for their life post cancer.
Our programs don’t stop with the ccThriver program however; Phase 2 and 3 will be a mentor program and a grant program. The mentor program will be aimed at guiding the individuals we meet. We hope to help them transition back into life post cancer. We can advise them on the endeavors they decide to take on, help them through challenges they may face, motivate them by sharing details and challenges from the mentor’s life. All the guidance in the world may not be enough for some though. Cancer can be so financially debilitating that many kids may not have the financial means to pursue their passions. Our grant program will be established to address those needs and help remove the financial limitations some may face giving them an equal opportunity.
Want to help? First go onto our website, http://www.ccthrive.org, enter your name and email to receive our monthly newsletter. This will update you in detail on our progress. Eventually we will have volunteer opportunities, but at the moment the biggest way you can help is by making a donation. We need funds to role out our programs. Everything else is ready to go, our expert advisors are so excited for ccThrive to start redefining what it means to survive childhood cancer. To learn more please check out the website! You will find everything you need to know about the organization; additionally you can make your secure tax-deductible donation through our website.
Now that I have explained why I took a break from my blog it’s time to move forward. This season will be a building year for me. Jumping is the priority. I have to put myself in contention on the jump hill to have a chance at the podium. So that is the focus and I don’t expect results overnight. I think there will be successes and failures but that is the point. In order to make a change for the better sometimes you have to break the old comfort zone. That is exactly what I plan to do this season. Of course I hope the cross-country performance remains or even improves from the strong levels I have seen the last two years. After all the competitions are won on the racecourse so that is still a priority. However even if you are the fastest skier on the circuit, you don’t have chance without a strong jumping performance.
Equipment wise I am really excited to be jumping on Sport 2000 skis this season. This was one of my moves to get out of my comfort zone. New feelings mean changes have to be made to adjust to them and these skis have been very fun to get used to and figure out how to make them fly the farthest.
Additionally you will see all of the US Ski Team member’s sporting L.L. Bean and Craft uniforms this season. This new partnership is very cool and it’s very exciting to see the motivation these two companies have in making sure our teams are dressed in the best. Perhaps the coolest thing is that everything we are wearing will be items that you can purchase to show your support. As always with these companies the quality is outstanding and everything is built with functionality in mind!
On the Cross Country side, I will be continuing to ski on Madshus. Madshus in my opinion makes the best cross-country skis, boots and poles out there. The whole line of products is engineered to work together making skiing stable, comfortable, and of course fast! If you haven’t tried their products out, please do so!
For Nutrition I am lucky and proud to be a USANA athlete. USANA provides everything I need to make sure there are no gaps in my nutrition. I use their “My Health Pak” on a daily basis and it’s a great vitamin pack, I also use their “Nutrimeal” for a variety of uses. Some of those uses include, pre race meal, post race recovery drink, meal replacement when you can’t find anything decent while travelling, I even put it in my oatmeal for added flavor etc. I even use some of their beauty products! Ok, let’s be real, I use their soaps and face washes but they are awesome so if I needed beauty products I am sure I would use those too.
Honey Stinger has been one of my longest running sponsors. I eat their “10 Gram Protein Bar” after almost every weight session. They are perfect for the long summer bike rides, or winter XC skis. I love the “Organic Energy Chews” I use the caffeinated ones as pre race fuel. I also use the bars as pre race, post race, snacks, dessert you name it. Their honey makes a great addition to any breakfast cereal in the am too.
The season ends on February 28th this year, which is unusually early due to some schedule changes. Don’t worry however the season still includes the same number of world cups as previous seasons. Because of the early ending, I am looking forward to skiing at Steamboat Resort in the spring. I hope to be able to spend a little more time on the mountain I grew up learning to ski on. They have been big supporters of both Taylor and I over the years and we are grateful to have them.
One of the products I am very excited to be testing this season is WEND. WEND wax works makes surf, ski, and even bike waxes and products. They specialize in making safe environmentally friendly race waxes. To do this they use meadow foam. It’s the next big thing in waxing and I cannot wait to give it a shot and put it to the test in both cross-country and ski jumping. WEND also has a full line of traditional waxes as well as high fluoro race waxes. I am excited to be a member on their team and help them push a new frontier in waxing.
The last shout out goes to YOKO. Our team switched to using their gloves last season. One thing most people probably don’t know about me is I have horrible circulation in my hands. Some would call it a disorder because it’s so terrible. Well YOKO gloves are the first gloves in my 10 + career on the national team that have actually keep my hands warm and comfortable. I had gotten so used to having cold hands that when I finally realized how cozy my hands were last season, I bragged about it to everyone.
So now that you know some of products I will be sporting this year, get out there try them with me and let’s enjoy this winter!
I look forward to potentially seeing everyone out on the trails or at the jumps this winter. Good Luck in your racing season. If you need some coaching advise I would be happy to help! Just hit me up through the contact form. If not I hope to race against you at some point. Next update will most likely be after the first comps in Ruka! Stay tuned.
Well with two comps left this season, it's almost time to say good bye to the world cup circuit for a short time. I would be lying though if I said I was ready to be done. I am sure I will be ready to be done after the weekend but at the moment I am focused on the competitions at hand. The first is here in Trondheim, Norway, on Thursday and the second is the world cup finale at my favorite, Holmenkollen, Norway. These two comps I am sure will be a blast and I am really excited to ski in them after being sick and having to sit out last weekend. Having to step away even for one event is so motivating. I wanted nothing more to be in the event skiing. That said, sometimes it's necessary. I am healthy again and will be laying it all on the course for the last weekend.
On another note there is a really cool thing happening here in Trondheim. Today is the first event for girls/women in Nordic Combined. I say girls/women because while today's event is for U-16, these girls will soon be the women of Nordic Combined. Additionally there is a youth cup for U-16 boys in which we have one of our strongest competitors for the age group in. Hopefully he can show them what he is made of! I am also very excited for them to get the opportunity to watch our even tomorrow and see the top level of competition!
Anyways tune into your channels, computer, phone, or whatever device you watch on because this week you will have Nordic Combined action Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Don't forget, Saturday will hopefully be the 2 jump 15km event! Go USA!
Here is the footage from my 5th place in Falun. So close... Just a few mistakes on the last hill cost me the medal but it's still fun to watch... Enjoy!
Yesterday was the large hill individual at Worlds. I jumped to 13th and fought hard to reach the podium. Despite my best efforts I finished 5th which is a personal best World Championship result for me. To me this finish is strong, I really wanted a medal, but to know that I had a strong jump as well as a strong race to put myself in contention is peace of mind. I know that I gave it my best shot and I can be happy and confident that I put my best foot forward and left it all on course. This finish though is indicative of my average this season. I have been consistently in the top 10 and I am really looking forward to continuing this string in the last competitions of the world cup season. Before I get ahead of my self though we have one more comp here in Falun! I am really excited for this comp because it's one of the most fun events we compete in. The team sprint is tomorrow. USA has a chance if we perform on the jump hill. We will again be in attack mode!
Of course good results like this do not come without a great team behind you. So I want to take a minute and say thank you to my team. I want to thank everyone from the coaches, Dave, Greg, Martin, our amazing service staff Andrej and Matjaz, the whole athlete crew, and our sports psychologist Rich Gordon, and of course the support staff behind who allow them do what they do best. Also I have to thank my family and probably most importantly my wife Nikki who allows to me to spend countless weeks on the road away from home. I wouldn't be here if I didn't have her support.
Also I have to say a special thank you to Bill Demong. These are potentially his last competitions as an athlete and I can honestly say he has been an amazing teammate and leader. He has helped me in every way to reach the top and it will not be the same world without him in the team cabins. USA owes a huge debt of gratitude to him for not only his success as an athlete but also off the hill making USA Nordic Combined sustainable year after year no matter what obstacles are thrown our way. I am honored I was able to share my career with Bill and wish him success as he transitions into life as a professional dad and a recreational athlete. Thanks Bill!
Off the hill school continues at Westminster, this semester has been great so far, but I have been working on another project that I am very excited about. ccThrive is a non profit organization a partner and I are in the process of creating. So familiarize yourself with the name because it will launch soon and once it does I hope you will be able to help support us! I will give the organization it due, by explaining it in full once we launch. This way everyone can immediately help in supporting this endeavor if they feel passionately about it!
Till then stay tuned and hopefully your watching on Saturday! GO USA!
After Val di Fiemme, I travelled back to the USA for some much needed recovery and time at home. I had an amazing 13 days at home. The weather was unbelievably warm. A scary sight to see in February, the lack of snow was also very frightening. Despite the warmth and lack of snow training was good, I felt like I made the most of my time at home and I have arrived in Falun, Sweden ready to rock for World Championships. The weather here so far has been very cooperative for jumping. The Cross Country courses are looking great and I am excited to get things underway on Friday.
I am humbled to have something I wrote, put up on the Dr. Oz Blog. Check it out at:
More to come after the weekends' comps in Sapporo!
As I sit here in the Laundromat washing my entire stack of clothes and race suits, I realized I have just about reached the halfway point in my trip. Shonach and Chaux Neuve were successful for me. Last week in Chaux Neuve, France I was able to ski to a 20th place finish as well as an 8th place finish. The second day was also made special because both Taylor and myself were inside the top ten. Taylor has been working very hard this year but has not had the results to show for it, and last week he finally created an opportunity for himself and took advantage of it. Taylor skied a blistering fast race finishing 5th just a few second ahead of me. We had a great time in France this year, the lack of snow made the competitions very interesting but I think it only added to the fun atmosphere of the competitions.
This week is the Seefeld Nordic Combined Triple, three events in three days! The snow conditions here in Seefeld are great, we are back to winter on the world cup tour. This jump & course are very challenging; it very well could be a fight for the podium each and every day from all of the competitors in the field. Yesterday we had the opportunity to ski the new redesigned course here, and I have to say they took an already hard course and made it even harder. It will be very exciting to see how it races compared to the old one. Each day of the triple takes into account the previous day. The first day is a one jump 5k race, after the event only the top 50 will get a start on the second day, which is a one jump 10k. The third day will be a 2 jump 15k race with only the top 30 competitors from the previous day. So hopefully if all goes well everyone on team USA will make it to the last day of competition! Last year I had my seasons best result finishing 5th in the triple overall. It would be a dream come true to repeat that this season. I am not overly concerned with the result however, my goal this year is to continue building on my competition strength and performance. My goal is to have just three solid days on the jump hill! If I can accomplish that, then the weekend was successful!
Outside the hill, our team has been playing some really good games of Canasta, A rummy type card game to pass the time. We have also enjoyed learning some new card games from our Swiss counterparts. I am not the biggest card guy but the last two weeks I have certainly played my fair share. Today’s day off will be spent enjoying the views from the Laundromat. School has also started for ¾ of our guys so it seems like that will start to fill up more and more of our time as the semester ramps up.
Another treat for our team this week is we have Dave Cieslowski, a former competitive skier turned PT. Dave worked with us for the first time last season, and this year he is back for not only Seefeld, but world championships as well. This season we have not had a PT traveling with our team regularly so after two weeks of hard competitions it will be amazing to get some work done and correct all the abuse we have thrown at ourselves. Thanks Dave!
The last thing I want to chat about is my friend and colleague Nick Fairall. Nick had a horrible crash in the four hills tournament a few weeks back. He was immediately taken to the hospital to have emergency surgery and is now recovering from that. As you can imagine he will have a hefty bill along with long road to recovery ahead. I want to encourage every one to please donate to his Rallyme to help offset costs and give him the best possible chance to make a healthy recovery! Please just go to this link to donate: https://www.rallyme.com/rallies/1342/nick-fairall
So there you have all my news for the week! Thanks for reading and hopefully next week I will have some very exciting blog posts from Japan!
Blog Thursday is here again! Today’s entry will be short and sweet. Last weekend in Shonach, Germany was a blast. We had a ton of fun racing in the rain and the Shonach organizing committee did a great job putting on the event with the tough weather conditions. The team event was a cold and miserable rainy day; our team embraced it and raced with smiles on our faces. Day 2 in Shonach the weather was much better. Jumping for myself was another step in the right direction, I jumped to 33 and was able to put together a great race to finish 9th. I am extremely relieved to have another result inside the top ten going into this big block of competitions.
Shonach was the first of five weekends in a row of competitions for me. Moving forward, I am very excited for this weekends comps in Chaux Neuve, France where we will have a team sprint as well as an individual comp. This jumping hill has usually been pretty friendly to me, so I hope to continue building in the right direction here. The XC course is extremely hard and I know it will be some tough, tough racing. I am in good shape though so with some luck everything can come together. Next weekend is the big Nordic Combined Triple!!! The event is in Seefeld, Austria which is always a fun stop on the tour and I am sure will yield a large crowd. Last season the Triple was the highlight of my season where I finished 5th overall. Obviously it would be amazing to improve upon that this season. Seefeld yields probably the second largest crowd only second to this weekends comp in Chaux Neuve. For many athletes this is their favorite stop on the tour for exactly that reason. I cannot deny that it is a very special feeling when there are so many people in attendance, lining every inch of the 2.5 km course.
For team USA this weekend in the roster we have Bill Demong, Taylor Fletcher, Adam Loomis and myself as our four guys. The weather looks like it maybe another rainy one but Chaux Neuve never disappoints and I am sure we will have some great competitions!
Additionally up in Norway we have our COC team gearing up for competitions in Hoydalsmo, Norway. So I would like to wish them good luck! Kick some ass boys!
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