Not that I'm counting the days, but I realized that I have one month left in Park City until mid-October. Per usual, time flies and the seasons change before I know it. For now, I've settled into a good rhythm of consistent training.
I've primarily been in Park City since the last time I wrote, with the exception of a quick trip to New York and a week in Steamboat Springs.
We had a really successful camp in Steamboat over the Fourth of July. I was impressed with how close all of us are at the moment. The juniors, Ben Loomis and Stephen Schumann are right up there pushing the rest of us, which is awesome! In fact, Ben lead the way on the HS75 jump hill and skied to third during the Mainstreet race, behind the Fletcher brothers. Stephen, only 16, posted one of the fastest times of the day on a brutal uphill time trial shortly before we left for Steamboat. Some serious motivation to be gained from this! And now I really understand how motivated Bryan and Taylor are from their fierce sibling rivalry.
In addition to our training schedule in Steamboat, we spent an evening with many of our supporters, fans and family. Steamboat is definitely the heartland of Nordic Combined in the US, making it a great place to reach out to our community. Although it is tough to be constantly asking for support from the same group of people, we're fortunate enough to have a community that sees our value and continues to help us meet our needs. And, we try to bring in a few new people to our fundraisers from outside the community.
I couldn't think of a better example of this than Tim Krumrie, who I met at our Octoberfest fundraiser last fall, and who returned to give some support this summer. Tim's background is a little different than anyone else who was there: he played for 12 years in the NFL and made one Super Bowl appearance. On top of it all, Tim grew up in a small town just outside of Eau Claire, and lived in Eau Claire during much of his career. He and his wife say they decided to move to Steamboat because nobody would care that he was an ex-NFL player there. Considering how many Olympians that town has produced, there's some truth in this.
Our camp in Steamboat was also my first opportunity to work with Nik Huber as our new jumping coach. Nik is Austrian, but is most recently coming from 5 years with Norway's Nordic Combined team. When he was looking for a change, we jumped on the opportunity to add him to our team. As he made clear, there aren't too many secrets to this game, and we're mostly doing the right things, but having his experience, perspective and attitude will be a huge boost to the team. I think his ideas mesh really well with Martin, our other coach on the jump hill, so we'll have great continuity going from one to the other.
Back in Park City, we sent some far jumps on the large hill in Park City before gearing up for another big intensity week. Last week was actually a bit lighter than most of our intensity blocks, but we still had two days of double intervals sessions, one time trial, one threshold-interval session, and two more level-4 intensity sessions! I was pretty happy to have my best race in far too long - a good sign of things to come! Meanwhile, Taylor continued to set the bar with another record for our Soldier Hollow race course.
One way that we make these big intensity weeks manageable is by adding a lot variety. In addition to skate and classic rollerskiing, we did one session of coordination challenging "soccer intervals," a bounding session up the ski resort, and had I got out on my mountain bike for an on-my-own session.
As always, I'm staying busy with classes at DeVry and evening shifts waiting tables at Adolph's Restaurant. Taylor, Bryan and I went to another fundraiser last week, this one for the Utah Olympic Legacy. The UOL manages the Olympic Park, where we jump, and as of this year, owns Soldier Hollow, home of the Olympic cross country ski trails. It was a good reminder of how lucky we are to have these facilities, which are among the few Olympic complexes in recent years that actually have had continued usage.
Next week is Springer Tournee and US Nationals already! Yes, 2017 Nationals are just one week from Saturday. Follow USA Nordic on Facebook and Twitter to keep up of the latest news.
Finally, my supporter OutThere is doing a fundraiser for its athletes. Purchase a ballcap from them here and $10 goes to your favorite OutThere athlete.
This weekend marked the end of my internship in Denver, Colorado. Basin Holdings, one of our team sponsors, offered the opportunity to our team this spring. I was immediately interested and jumped on the chance to try something new and gain some experience in the workforce.
It was an interesting and fulfilling six weeks– and certainly all new to me. I worked for WB Supply, an oilfield supply company and one of the many firms that make up Basin. It’s nothing glamourous, and in theory a relatively simple business. WB is the middle-man from the manufacturer to the corporations doing the drilling and pumping. However, it’s a highly competitive industry. In the current market especially, it takes a tightly run ship to stay afloat. WB Supply is approaching 45 years in the industry, so they are clearly doing something right to have steadily grown through countless booms and busts.
I spent most of the first week of the internship up at one of their supply stores in Fort Morgan, which is a small, rural town northwest of Denver. From there, I gained an appreciation of the operations at a grounds level. The rest of the internship was at the office in Denver, where I created a couple of big reports and presentations, as well as helping with day-to-day issues with invoices, pricing, etc. As much as I learned from actual application, I also gained a lot from listening in and observing. The general principles that enable success in this business carry over to any industry. I saw much of the success coming from strong relationships – between WB and its vendors and customers, and also within the company. The president of WB works at the Denver office, and she told me how she worked her way through virtually every part of the company. She understands the situation far better than someone sitting in an office hundreds of miles away might otherwise. The macro takeaway for me was that in any environment, the more that you can see from all perspectives, the better off you’ll be.
I didn’t slack from my training during this time either. My weekdays were always busy, starting with a strength or plyometric session in the gym at my apartment complex. In the evenings, I would run, rollerski or ride on the considerable network of bike paths throughout the city. I found plenty of places to train, although pounding the pavement through suburbs and the city sure made me appreciate the luxury of living right against world class mountain trails in Park City. On the weekends, I headed for the mountains of Golden and Boulder, where I found plenty of trails and mountain passes to explore. Finding new places certainly helps make up for the monotony of training alone.
I was able to meet up with some family in the area, including my cousins Tim and Krista who both grew up in Wisconsin, but now live happily in Boulder. Once you play in the mountains, it’s hard to go back… They’re a big running family, and I joined them for a 10-mile race in Boulder one weekend. At the end of my stay, Tim, Krista and my Uncle all ran a 50km mountain trail race. It looked like fun – in a way – but I stuck to my rollerskis for that day. As crazy as it sounds, there are some definite similarities between Nordic Combined and ultra-running; at least, they’re both small sports, extremely challenging, and generally provide more intrinsic rewards than anything else. You could say it takes a special sort of person to choose either path. But from my perspective, ultra running is even crazier than Nordic Combined. And we have the Olympics…
Like always, the time flew by, and now it’s a bit of a shock to find summer here already. I’ve been enjoying getting back to training with the team. We’ll get back on the jump this week, which will be great after nearly three months away from the hill. The week after that, we’ll start to really “pay our dues” with some hard sessions for our first intensity block.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading, sorry for the irregularity of postings. As you can say, I’m generally a busy guy!
After competing in Norway the weekend before last, we traveled back down to Europe and a week of training in Slovenia. Although we’re all anxious to get back to competing on the World Cup circuit, this week of training turned out to be really productive. This weekend we start back up with the first World Cup of the New Year in Chaux-Neuve France!
Planica is one of my favorite places to train. We were there for a camp this fall and it was great to get back on the jumps on snow. They're modern and somewhat challenging hills, but the super smooth inruns and high flying profiles make them some of my favorite hills to jump. It’s pretty sweet to wake up in the morning and have the choice of two hills (K95 and K125) just right up the valley.
Winter still hasn’t fully hit Slovenia yet, but fortunately they had enough snow made for a challenging loop of skiing. By the end of the week I had close to 95km – some 50 laps – on the loop. Surprisingly, most of the sessions went by pretty quickly. It helps to have a specific plan to break up and focus the session.
The Cross Country World Cup happened to be in Planica for a sprint weekend while we were there. On Saturday and Sunday we went right from jumping to the race course and watched the action from the sidelines. The races were high paced and really exciting to spectate. It was cool to get a good perspective on how fast those top sprinters are – especially before we skied our own race on the course after them. We just did a small “practice” comp to keep the speed up, but I gained a real appreciation for how much speed the cross country athletes carried on their sprints on the same tracks.
I put up a quick video that my coach shot in some of our interval sessions.
Some pics from the XC spectating:
We also ran into some of our own cross country skiers in the weight room on Monday. Periodically throughout the winter our World Cups are held with them, and other times, like this, we happen to just be in the same place at the same time. (Although usually if it's not for a competition, we run into other US Ski Team athletes at the airport hotel in Germany).
Yesterday we traveled to France - across Italy, over a corner of Switzerland, and just out of the French Alps to the city of Pontarlier, France. The scenery through the Alps, north of Torino and between Chamonix and Zermatt, was spectacular. Nothing makes an 8-hour drive go by like a couple hours in some of the coolest mountains around.
Pontarlier is a surprisingly large city about 45 minutes away from the small town of Chaux-Neuve, where we’ll compete. This competition was originally scheduled for the last weekend, and after it was pushed back, the organizers had to scramble to find new accommodations for all of the teams. Most of the area surrounding Chaux-Neuve is farmland dotted with small rural towns, so I’m not shocked that this was the closest city they could find with open rooms.
I’m psyched to get this weekend going tomorrow with official training and PCR/qualification. The next two weekends are pretty high pressure, as we need to get some more points in order to keep the rest of the season alive. But last year I had my best result here in Chaux-Neuve, and I think I’m up for the challenge!
You can read more on the current status of our team and startrights from this recent FasterSkier article: http://fasterskier.com/blog/article/for-u-s-nordic-combined-quota-spots-and-more-on-the-line-as-world-cup-restarts/
In case you missed it, FIS gave me the opportunity to share some writing. The following post is also on their website.
Also, I made a little video from our trip up to Norway. You may need to watch it on a desktop if it does not play on mobile.
FIS Guest Blog: Unpredictability
Due to the very difficult weather situation that brings a long competition break this winter, FIS Nordic Combined is breaking new ground on its website, usually dedicated to competition reports, news and interviews with the top stars. Instead of asking about sports related matters, we gave the word to our athletes themselves: what is on their minds at the moment, how do they view and handle the situation and related "deeper" issues like positivity, the spirit of competition or climate change? In the first edition, Team USA's Adam Loomis writes about unpredictability.
If I’ve learned one thing so far this season, it’s that nothing is predictable. We saw this the first weekend of the circuit, in Ruka, Finland. We arrived early in the week to find perfect wintery conditions: plenty of snow, cold temps, and calm winds. By the weekend, however, a warm front blew in – and kept blowing. The strong winds prevailed, preventing even a single round of training, much less the completion of a full jump competition.
In Lillehammer, the next stop, and the defacto season opener, after one competition on the big hill, we moved down to the normal hill. This meant a quick change to a very different hill, and those that were ready for this excelled.
Fast forward two weekends to Ramsau, where the prodigy Norwegian Jarl Magnus Riiber stole the spotlight of both competitions. While we first saw Riiber’s talent in full form last winter, his performance in Ramsau brought fresh light to how high the level of jumping can be on the Nordic Combined circuit. Despite his dominance on the jump hill, through four separate competitions, we’ve had four different athletes at the top of the World Cup podium.
Thus far in 2016, challenging conditions and schedule changes have been the unfortunate story. Athletes and coaches found themselves making quick adjustments to their plans, searching for the places with good snow for training, such as Seefeld, Austria. Back in the US, we were lucky to have incredible winter conditions for training in Park City, UT.
After the announcement about Schonach, our “younger” World Cup team (Jasper Good, Ben Berend, Michael Ward and me) flew to Munich, rather than change our tickets for a second time. From Munich, we pushed onward to Høydalsmo, Norway. (9 hours of driving through Germany, one night at a hotel, three more hours to the tip of Denmark, a “short” 4 hour ferry ride to Larvik, Norway, and then three more hours to our hotel).
Høydalsmo held a Continental Cup – as planned – but now without a World Cup that weekend, it got a whole lot harder. Numerous World Cup athletes were amongst the 67 starters, including Finland’s Ilkka Herola, who already has a podium this season from Lillehammer, and Maxime Laheurte, a French veteran of the sport with multiple podiums. These two athletes in particular seemed likely to take the competition by storm, but as it turned out, only Maxime reached the podium, with a third place on Saturday.
It is evident that one cannot take anything for granted in this sport. Plans will change, upsets are the norm, and there’s no guarantee that a so-called “World Cup athlete” will always beat a Conti Cup skier. On a personal level, I started the weekend with relatively strong jump performances, but after a disappointing race on Saturday, I struggled to bring the same mindset into Sunday’s competition. Rather than be psyched about my improvements on the jump hill, I lingered for too long upon failing to meet my expectations for the race. In hindsight, I should have known that everything fluctuates, from year-to-year, week-to-week and day-to-day. Rather than worry about the factors that aren’t going as planned, we can all be better by appreciating what we have going well for us.
Take the winner of the second day in Høydalsmo, Franz-Josef Rehrl for example. Last winter in Høydalsmo the jump competition was cancelled due to too much snow (yes that can happen). Fortunately, we still had a provisional jump to use for the afternoon’s race. Franz, however, took the extra time waiting at the jump hill as an opportunity to go powder skiing behind the ski jumps. He came back into the changing room some time later, fully covered in snow, grinning and, luckily, with his 2.6m long jump skis still in good shape. While I’m not prescribing this as a pre-race routine, it says something about a skill that winners have. They adapt and make the best of what is in front of them.
This winter may or may not become the norm for years to come. But certainly, as athletes, we will only have to get more accustomed to varying conditions and changing schedules. At the end of the day, anytime we get a big group of Nordic Combined skiers together; it makes for a great competition. When you let go of the bar, or charge into the start of the race, it doesn’t matter where you are, or what it’s called. The opportunity to compete is a beautiful thing.
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