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.
I have been delaying updating my blog for quite some time now. Before this moment I had been searching for an excuse as to why I haven’t started on this post. Truth is, I wasn’t sure what to say. This season has been by far the biggest roller coaster ride I have ever been on. I don’t mean that in an emotional way, sure, emotion was a part of it; we would not be human without it however this was more of a roller coaster of experiences. I didn’t have anything to say because I had so much to process, in order to express truthfully and thoroughly in a logical way I had to catalog and organize it all first. I am glad that I waited; if I had posted a few blogs prior to this I can assure you they would be non-sensical off the cuff ramblings. I can’t guarantee that this post won’t ramble on or be logical, but it will be genuine!
It’s hard to imagine that another Olympics has come and gone, another season is on the cusp of closing, and yet I find myself dumbfounded that I am still living this dream. In 2006 I remember myself saying to a teammate that I would ski until 2010 and after that I would close this chapter of my life and go to school to start the “real world.” I was naïve in thinking that would be the case. 2010 was only the start of my career in skiing a perspective that only hindsight can give you. Reflecting upon my youth years there were so many moments that I thought would make or break my future in skiing. I thought it would be the good results that determined the path to future, my potential, little did I know that it would be the disappointing results that mattered. Each one of those results, no matter how mundane they may seem at the time, changes you. They are a chance to learn from yourself, a chance to learn from your competitors, an opportunity to learn what did and did not work at a particular venue etc. I have taught myself more from these experiences then anything else in my career. Good results come easy! Everything just aligns, in my world that means good jump, paired with a good race, the hole shots are easy to find, 30 seconds gap to the next pack feels like 2 seconds and with a blink of an eye your sprinting to the finish. Confidence, and experience points in the bag, I move onto the next comps hoping to repeat. Success is fragile for every competitor because it’s hard to learn from, one can simply hope to manage it for as long as they can, however when the tower comes tumbling down everyone must rebuild from the foundation in order to achieve such heights again.
That said this season was the best learning experience I have ever had. Having both successes and failures, the reason it was more valuable than any other season is simply because they were so close together. I went from not qualifying in Kuusamo, Finland, the opening world cup, to a top 10 finish the very next weekend. The last World Cup I competed in before leaving for Sochi, I had 3 top 10s in a row, and at the Olympics I didn’t crack the top 20. I was very capable of being on the podium at any given point this season, even at the games. I am not blissfully ignorant either. My results at the games ended the way they did because of succinct mistakes on the jump hill despite my best effort to fix them. The mistakes took me out of contention in the race. As successful as I had been in the weeks before, I found myself rebuilding from the foundation multiple times throughout this season. Chances for me to repeat the building process, ingraining it into memory so the next time it came easier to rebuild. I believe everyone has the blueprint for his or her own success, but until the time is taken to learn why each piece goes in its rightful spot, it’s hard to properly construct a resilient tower. The thing about sport is that tower is never finished. I will constantly be building and rebuilding until the day that competitive skiing is out of my vocabulary.
I am not going to go into detail about each little thing I learned or realized this season. Frankly that would just be painfully long and extremely boring to type. Instead I am just excited to say another season is in the books and the future is coming!
I will always argue the offseason is too short, but then again who wouldn’t. I am enjoying it as much as I can alpine skiing, and spending the days with my dog Sochi, and Fiancée Nikki doing absolutely nothing! It’s the perfect way to recover from the season.
Looking forward I anticipate a busy summer. While I am certain I will be training hard, I am looking to shake things up a bit and break out of my routine. Try some new things and find a new rhythm. I am also very excited to train with our future stars, the team now has a solid crew of up and coming athletes and I am excited to see if we can push each other to the next level!
I owe a huge thank you to Madshus, Rudy Project, USANA, Elan, Blendtec, Steamboat Resorts, Beet It, and Honey Stinger. Without great supporters like these I would not be still skiing today. I am very grateful for their long lasting support and as I move into the future I am excited to continually have them supporting me! They are the best of the best and I encourage you to check out their products/services. If you want my expert opinion on my favorite products/services don’t hesitate to ask!
Outside of skiing the biggest news is I am getting married on Sept 27th. So I am using what little time I have not in school or training, planning and prepping for the wedding! Definitely exciting to know that is just around the corner. Nikki and I have enjoyed the process so far, she has done most of the work, but don’t tell her that.
Well there are only 3 days left till I start testing on the treadmill again so instead of writing this blog I am going to get out and get skiing!
See you in 2015!
Four years ago I hoped to make my first Olympic team, unfortunately that dream was never realized. I was not named to the team, instead my younger brother was. I decided the best thing to do was to go as a fore-jumper. I hoped that I could help the team in anyway, show my support for Taylor, and I knew that I would get an upfront seat for the action! That was the best decision of my life. Not being named forced me to refocus my career, my training, my direction, combine that with watching my teammates just dominate the games, I came away a new person. Today I can officially say I am on the U.S. Olympic Team bound for Sochi! I have waited 4 years to say that, it feels good to accomplish that goal. So onto Sochi I go… but before I get too far ahead of my self here’s what happened in the last couple weeks leading up to this moment…
Another week has come and that means it's time for a day off blog post before the weekend kicks off. Unfortunately my creativity is at an all time low today so bear with me. While I recapped the Triple last week the event still has confused many, however once it's been explained fully everyone seems very excited and enthusiastic about it. Personally I predicted that it was going to be spread out and a winner would be clear by the second day, however after debating this with my teammates and colleagues, I must admit I think I am wrong. The consensus is that it will be tight, and the fight for first will be an all out battle to the line on the third day. Several factors will play into this new consensus, the first is the jump hill. This hill is a large small hill, HS 108, K99. Everyone tends to jump between 95 and 105 meters in years past meaning that it will be a mere second or two separating competitors from each other. The second factor is that the first event is a 5km race, that means it will pack up and ski much more like a mass start then a Gunderson event. I predict it will be difficult to pull away or loose significant amounts of time in the first event. Which really puts the pressure on the second day of competition. Each competitor will have to put on their A game to get inside the top 30 and survive any deficits from the previous day. The third day is when the packs will separate. 15km will be a long enough race to break up the packs. That said I think it's anyones game with a strong race on the third day. My hope is that anyone inside the top 30 could win... Only time will tell but further predictions are welcome!
This will be a big weekend! Almost every nation will have to name their Olympic team promptly after... The last spots for most nations will be filled based of performances in this event. Prepare to see some great performances out there Exciting stuff!
That said GO USA!
I have a lot to of new things to say for once! I guess that makes up for the couple weeks I procrastinated on updating my blog. So in order, here is what has happened in my life since my last post. Shonach went well, I am sure my Facebook indicated that already so it's fair to say thats old news. But just incase your are really curious I was 18th the first day with a crash in the XC portion, I followed that up with a 9th place finish the second day, (no crash!). I was happy to end the period on a strong note before heading home. I arrived home just in time to celebrate the holiday's as best I could before Olympic trials the very next weekend. Olympic trials was an awesome event, most likely the biggest US event I have been a part of in the years, Thousands of people showed up and the whole thing felt just like a world cup. Jumping was not what I hoped for but I put together another strong Cross Country race to finish 2nd in the event. However the support from the crowd was amazing and I want to thank everyone who came out to the show!
After the event I was relieved to have a week off from racing. I spent my time enjoying the finer things in life, time with my fiancé, Cross Country ski's with my dog (Sochi) for the first time, had the opportunity to catch two movies, and enjoy some quality time with friends. It was the perfect break from the season, but I would be lying to say I wasn't missing competition. I am excited we are back on tour and I am ready to race!
In other news if you haven't seen on Facebook as well I used the break as an opportunity to update my new helmet for the Olympics! The artwork looks awesome and I am really excited to debut it this weekend in Chaux Neuve, France. I think it will be especially cool to debut it here because all the school children come with their classes to watch the world cups, a lot of them are probably close in age to Rhett and Charlotte so maybe it will garner some extra attention from them. I will post a gallery of the new helmet.
Outside of skiing I have been enjoying wedding planning with Nikki, she does most of the work but I like to pretend I am helping just like every fiancé does. But honestly it's really exciting and I cannot wait for the day already.
Looking forward, I will be in Europe for another 10 days. This weekend as previously mentioned is Chaux Neuve, and next weekend will be the big debut of the Nordic Combined Triple!!! Just as the name hints it's three competitions in three days. After each event there will be a cut, the first down to 50 competitors, the second cut will be down to 30 competitors. The first day will be a 1 jump 5 km race, the second a 1 jump 10 km race, and the third day will be a 2 jump 15 km race. Each person's time back after the finish of the XC race will be added to their start time after jumping for the next day of competition. So rest assured every competitor will be racing to the line because every second counts! Needless to say I am looking forward to the events this period as well as them being over because that means the Olympics is almost here! Our team will officially be named after January 20th, I couldn't be more excited for the journey to begin.
Until then he focus is here however on this weekend. I hope to build upon the results I have already had this season. Be sure to follow on Twitter or Facebook to see how I stack up this weekend.
Just as the picture indicates the sun is setting on this period of world cup competitions with only one weekend left. Last weekend went well for me. The jumping was on par with Lillehammer but again I made up for it with my racing. On Saturday Todd Lodwick and I were just off the podium in the Team Sprint with a 4th place finish. We combined to be the fastest team on the course however. On Sunday I had my best race thus far this season posting the 2nd fastest time and finishing 7th! I was also stoked to have teammate Bill Demong in the top 10 with me in 9th place. So overall it was not a bad weekend and I am getting closer and closer to the goal.
This weekend we are in the Black Forest, Shonach, Germany. The period will wrap up with 2 individual events. The focus will be the same as the previous weekends and It will be nice to wrap up the period with two more chances at individual results before heading home.
The mold in my water bottle and lack of clean clothes suggest that it is time to head home. Plus I probably have a puppy at home who doesn't remember who I am. Hence it is definitely time to go reacquaint myself with my two loves Nikki and Sochi!
While at home I will also be looking forward to Christmas as well as Olympic Trials. On December 28th all the US Olympic eligible athletes in Nordic Combined will be out to battle for an Olympic spot in Park City. I encourage everyone to come out and cheer us on, both events will be held at the Olympic Park which will make for easy spectating!
So as usual provisional and OT tomorrow and competitions on both Sat and Sun. GO USA!
Well for starters I am sorry for the delay in my post from last week. I posted it on spotty Internet and it said published.... Now I realize that it did not in fact go up. So a little late but better then never.... The last post I wrote on Thursday before the comps in Lillehammer. This Thursday I will recap last weekend and forecast the weekend here in Ramsau, Austria!
Lillehammer went well, as I said in the last post I was confident there would not be a repeat of the weekend before and there was not! Jumping was still not 100% but that's ok considering it was my 3rd and 5th jumps in new boots for the competitions, things will only continue to get better. While jumping was not 100% it was good enough, I put myself into a position from which I could make some moves. I was very happy when I was able to ski solid and land myself a 16th place on Saturday, and Sunday that result was improved upon when I landed my first top 10 of the season, in 10th. My short comings in the jumping was definitely made up on the Cross Country side with the 11th and 5th fastest times again making the weekend an overall success.
Moving on, I arrived in Ramsau, Austria yesterday (Wednesday) and today (Thursday) I was greeted by the morning sunshine! There is definitely a stark contrast between daytime here and daytime up north. So as you can guess I have spent some of the morning outside soaking up the Vitamin D and enjoying the nice weather. The weekend’s events start up tomorrow with Official Training/provisional followed on Saturday by the first Team Sprint of the season!!!! I am not going to lie I am excited for this event. It's never easy but it is very fun! Sunday will be an individual event. Conditions are great considering how the weather has been in Europe this winter... and the forecast for the weekend is good!
I am excited to build on the progress from last weekend, and hopefully I can continue to do so. Our team had some nice days of training in Lillehammer before we took the trip down and I think everyone is looking forward to the weekend. More importantly the rhythm of the season has been established for me, which gives me something to work with.
Outside of skiing some of the guys on the team have found a creative way to pass the time. It also makes us cringe and reminds us why we are skiers and not singers! Don't worry none of you readers will have to listen to us sing... We have started a very entertaining game in which one person puts on a pair of Bose headphones a song of their choice, closes their eyes and belts it out as best they can. Meantime the rest of the group is recording the audio and trying to control the laughter. Afterward the unlucky contestant gets to hear their track... Needless to say it's pretty hilarious!
And that's where I will leave this post now that there is a horrible image of us singing stuck in your imagination!
More to come after the week’s events!
Last week I was in Kuusamo, Finland in what most would call deep winter. It was dark, snowy and cold. This week I am in Lillehammer, Norway, and until today there was minimal snow and pretty warm temperatures. Today that has changed to dumping snow and cold temps. Some of the Norwegian Athletes have even said there is a winter advisory warning out!! I know for most people this sounds terrible but I cannot think of anything better for a day off. I am literally lying around watching it snow outside the hotel and it's gorgeous. Not to mention it should make for some exciting racing this weekend. Tomorrow we kick off the second weekend of World Cup Competition. As you may or may not know Kuusamo was not our weekend. We were plagued by multiple problems and it made for a shaky start to the season. This weekend will be different. If anything Kuusamo helped me work out my kinks faster than if it had gone mediocre. After a solid week of training here in Lillehammer I am heading into the weekend with confidence that there won't be a repetition of last weekend. Nordic Combined is a finicky sport, and weekends like the last happen to athletes often, but it's athletes passion and drive that keeps them climbing from the depths of a tough weekend that keep them going. "We are chalked full of that man” as Raoul Duke would say...
So as always it had been a short clip since my last post and usually I only find the time to write when I have a minute to reflect. Looking forward I will be on the road for another 3 weeks. After Lillehammer we will compete in Ramsau, Austria followed by Shonach, Germany. With each passing day I am filled with excitement and motivation about the weeks to come including this weekend. If your not planning on watching the comps this weekend I suggest you change your plans as Lillehammer is hosting not only Nordic Combined, but also Men’s ski Jumping, Women's Ski Jumping, as well as both Men’s and Women's Cross Country too. One of the events to keep an eye out for is the Mixed Team event for Ski Jumping. 2 men and 2 women make up a 4-member team for each country, which will be really exciting. GO USA!
Also keep an eye out for me in my new helmet designed by Rhett and Charlotte. They are the boy and girl of the year for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. They did a great job capturing how it feels for them to triumph over Cancer! Here are some up close and personal shots of their work!
Two and a half weeks ago I left for Boston, Mass to attend one of the Annual U.S. Ski Team “Ski Balls.” The events are fundraisers for the U.S. Ski Team where they derive much of the funding that supports the organization. They are very important to the success of the organization and there is no shortage of fun either. This is my second year returning to the event and I had a blast. There is some great socializing, food and entertainment. After the event in Boston, Taylor and I immediately flew to Lake Placid, NY for our 2014 nationals. Despite having an off day on the jump hill I was very happy to ski a great race moving up the ranks and finishing third. I was very happy to have some confidence in my racing heading into final prep phases of the season.
The day after the competitions in Lake Placid we boarded a flight bound for Munich, Germany. Upon arrival we kicked off a very intense jumping camp in which I feel our entire team made some great progress. We also enjoyed some on snow training at the Glacier in Ramsau, Austria. The Dachstein Glacier was a real treat and it was a blast to be on snow again. We wrapped up our camp in Oberstdorf, Germany on the iced inrun track. Jumping on a snow track is also very much a relief after jumping on porcelain all summer. The smooth of the ice will always be a favorite of mine. This is the second year in a row that we have had the opportunity to finish our summer jumping on the ice track and I am very grateful we get the opportunity to do so.
Outside of the training, it was a treat to have Aquaman on this trip as a special guest. Ok maybe it was not the real Aquaman but Billy Demong certainly played the part. He wore the costume for 10 days morning, noon, and night. As per the rules of the bet he lost to Taylor. Billy D was a great sport about it and rocked the costume with a positive attitude that made the camp full of laughter. In fact he is still wearing it on the plane home 1 day past what he was required to wear it for! I think it potentially could be hard for us to get him to take it off!
With just a few weeks left of training before taking off to Kuusamo, Finland for the World Cup openers the excitement grows each passing day. Training is getting easier and more focused, partially because it’s so close you can taste the cold Finnish air, and partially because this is the time of the year when the snow fly’s for us in the USA, So on that note let’s all pray for cold temperatures so we can blow some snow at home and get our winter training underway!
One last thing our annual Drive for 25 fundraiser for the National Nordic Foundation is currently underway and we have less then a month to raise 25,000 dollars. While that may seem like a lofty goal, all I am asking is that each of my friends and acquaintance’s donate 25 dollars and have one friend of theirs do the same. Many hands make light work, and more then the money we want to spread awareness. So Please, Please, Please, go to. www.grouprev.com/skifletch to donate. My goal is to raise 1000 dollars for our development pipeline! Remember that I would not be where I am today if it were not for the generous support I received along the way. Give each kid a fair chance to be the next Nordic Combined Star! Thanks in advance and I hope to see you all on the snow soon!
This update is all about whats going on outside of training, training is going well and honestly it's been the same old boring routine.
Let's start with Nikki and I's new Puppy. She is a Springer Spaniel/Australian Shepard mix. After much debate we settled on Sochi as her name. Actually it's Sochi-Bacon... She only gets the full name when she is in trouble, or makes stupid faces. We settled on her name because her first name was Bacon when we picked her up. So before we had a name for her we just called her Sochi-Bacon-Slush Paws. Naturally when we couldn't find a better name we stuck with Sochi Bacon. Sochi was 8 weeks old when we adopted her, and she has been a fur ball of joy!
Nikki and I have taken her to an 8 week long obedience class, Unfortunately we responded to the training better then Sochi, but I can now sit, lay down, and place on command in case you are wondering. Sochi did learn something though, she is not far behind me! Today she lost two of her teeth! I guess the tooth fairy is going to be good to her tonight! She is 18 weeks today and growing fast. She is 25 pounds and expected to be between 35-45 pounds.
My journey to Sochi, Russia on the other hand is growing real as fast as Sochi the dog is growing. Each day I am doing a new interview related to the upcoming season! Truly a fun experience to enjoy the heightened press and media that goes along with the road to Sochi. The snow flew for the first time today (9/25) here in pc and that makes the season feel even closer!
The last item on the agenda for this update is about the Helmet Project I have been working on. This summer I set out with the goal to have two kids undergoing, or recently survived cancer design my helmet for the upcoming Olympic Season. After partnering with The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society I am pleased to see this project coming to life. The Boy and Girl of the year from the Utah Chapter have designed my helmet. Together with WARPAINTFX the drawing/portrayal of them beating cancer will be transferred to the helmet! I am very optimistic that it's going to look great and most importantly I am excited to ski with some extra motivation just knowing that these kids have been through the same thing I have, and that they will be watching this year because of the great work cancer fighting organizations do. I am excited to give back this season! So Thanks Rhett and Charlotte for your drawings! Pictures of the project coming soon!