Wondering what I have been up to this off-season? Well so have I, to be honest not a whole lot. I have had about two weeks off total off time this spring. I used the time wisely by spending as much time up in the Backcountry and at the resorts as possible. As usual I enjoyed sometime at the local restaurants catching up with friends I had not seen in way too long. I over ate, over indulged, and enjoyed the hell out of it.
In the midst of all that I had the opportunity to visit the White House. I can assure you that it is certainly fit for a president. I took as many pictures as I could and tried to learn as much about the house it self as possible. It was an honor to meet President Obama as well as the First Lady. Both of them gave inspirational speeches, their words were poetic, humorous and insightful.
I was also honored to meet Colorado Senators, Michael Bennet & Mark Udall. They were down to earth, humble and great ambassadors for the state of Colorado. The setting was low key and relaxed enough to be able to have a conversation with each of the Senators.
After D.C. I traveled straight to California, Long Beach to be exact. I was there on behalf of USANA. With a crowd of 1000 people it was exciting to have the opportunity to speak and share my story. The whole weekend was full of support and it was humbling to see all the fans in the crowd.
While the off-season didn’t last long I was back into training the following week. Now three weeks into training I can confidently say I have hit the Gym and the bike hard this season. Don’t worry every minute of this has been enjoyable, fun filled, and motivational. The first week of training, Bill Demong, Liz Stephens, Nick Hendrickson, and I skied Mt. Timpanogas. It took us 8 hours round trip, we had one slight wrong turn trying to ski straight down to Sundance which added a couple extra hours. Despite the navigational errors it was a huge success. We skied some big lines, hike some steep faces and traversed some large snow filled slopes. Perhaps the most perplexing event of the spring has given me the more motivation then the all the rest.
On April 14th 2014 our team was officially moved from a fully funded team to an unfunded team under the USSA umbrella. I must admit I didn’t expect great things from our budget meetings this spring, however I didn’t expect to see our entire program cut from the U.S. Ski Team. Come July 31st our team will go to an individual funding model. Meaning that only the elite level athlete will receive compensation to help with their seasons. I am using the compensation term lightly because while any amount of money will help at this point, it’s clear that the funds provided by USSA will be not nearly enough to fund each athlete. As an athlete more goes into the sport then just travel and lodging and in our sport, there is no chance without coaches and wax techs to aid you. The decision was a tough blow for all involved in Nordic Combined. USSA is doing all they can to find other sources of funding for us at he moment. If they can find the funding before July 31st, then the team will continue as normal, however if we fall short our work will be cut out for us this season.
Personally as an older athlete on the team it kills me to see that our juniors are the ones who will suffer the most. I have been on the USST now since 2006; I have had my opportunities and have taken advantage of as many as I could. Luckily it has allowed to me realize dreams I never even thought possible. I am humbled when I think about them, and when I think about our junior athletes it kills me to think they may have too rough of a road to accomplish those same goals. My career has not finished, but my goal as a senior athlete is to make sure that road is as smooth as possible for our younger generation. They are my replacement one day and I cannot wait for the day I am retired and can watch them achieve their wildest dreams just like the ones before them. Make no mistake Nordic Combined is a growing sport both in the USA and in Europe. Programs in the US are growing and so is the pipeline to the top. On the top scale our World Cup events are now averaging 28 million viewers per event and growing. Our athletes are perusing careers much longer then previous generations. Showing that the growth in the sport is stable and sustainable. This detour this spring is only going to be a speed bump for USA Nordic Combined, I have no doubt that our program will continue to rise down the road.
As spring draws to close and summer approaches I am moving into my focus on school and training. This summer I will be challenging myself both athletically and academically more then I have in years past. My goal for the next quadrennial is to be more multi focused on both academia and athletics. Thankfully Westminster College is there to help!
Oh yeah of course I will be riding and racing my bike as much as possible too. To go without that would be a sin! Thanks ColeSport for the sweet new whip and support.