I can’t pretend that being able to execute a clean, powerful ski jump or racing around a cross-country track at maximal effort are the kind of skills that will transfer into “real life.” The actual skills used for Nordic Combined are pretty specific and won’t be good for much else. But, there’s no doubt that this sport teaches intangible skills that we will never lose.
Over these past few weeks, I’ve been practicing adaptability (whether consciously or not). To compete in Chaikovsky, Russia and Hoydalsmo, Norway, we traveled countless hours via just about every mode of transportation possible. Overall, I think we all can strive for better results, but in no way do I regret the miles we traveled to get to compete.
The first challenge of this trip was simply getting to Russia. After securing our visas, we left early Monday morning and arrived in Moscow on midday Tuesday, the 31st. On Wednesday, a short flight plus a “few” hour van ride turned into an all day haul. We arrived in Chaikovsky for a late dinner, much too late for our usual mid-week interval session.
On the weekend, when the competitions rolled around, the temperatures barely crept to the edge of the FIS legal limit at the height of the day (-20 °C). As a group, we were smart and kept our pre-race workouts to a minimum. Taylor Fletcher skied the fastest race time by over 30 seconds both days. On Sunday, in my first individual World Cup, I skied the 13th race time, and these races were all following an unusual week of traveling and lack of training. It goes to show that if you have confidence in your abilities and can ignore the uncontrollable elements, it’s easier to roll with the punches and perform at your best.
We left Chaikovsky in a fully loaded van in the middle of Sunday night. After two flights and five hours of time change, we arrived back in familiar ground at the Munich airport. Taylor and Brett drove to France for the next World Cup, and the rest of the crew started the journey up to Norway. Most of the teams fly up to Oslo and then drive to Hoydalsmo, but we get a little extra team bonding time in the vans. We drove straight through Germany and Denmark, then hopped on a ferry to Norway. Back in our vans and three hours more on the road, we arrived in Hoydalsmo Tuesday night, feeling somewhat jetlagged for the second week in a row.
After Hoydalsmo, we were planning on continuing on the circuit in Germany. Mother Nature, however, had other plans, and the organizers made the decision to cancel. Apparently it’s pretty tough to hold Nordic events without snow...
Again, we had to adapt, and decided that the best thing to do would be to get home. After competing in Norway, we retraced our steps back down to Munich and flew back to Salt Lake City. When the competition circuit is an ocean and thousands of miles away, it’s tough to be at home in the middle of the winter. But, the opportunity for good quality training between competitions is really a rare blessing in disguise. We can use the next couple weeks to get our jumping up to 100%, keep our racing fresh and fast, and be ready to kick some butt in the second half of the season.
The dynamic and uncertain schedule of an athlete can be tough, but I’m learning that if I choose to, it can just be a fun journey. I’m grateful that the NNF supports and makes these crazy adventures possible!
Back on the Circuit
US NoCo is back on the road and covering some serious ground.
This last weekend we competed at World Cup in Chaikovsky, Russia. Taylor, Brett, Nick, Michael, Coach Greg and I all made the journey into Siberia in the hope of earning some World Cup points. Chalkovsky’s a sweet new venue complete with a sports hotel, full range of jump hill sizes with all the modern touches and a killer XC race venue. But it’s not exactly the easiest place to get to. (Actually it’s about the toughest place on the World Cup…) We got our Russian Visas just in time and made the journey in three solid days, starting with fligts from SLC to JFK to Moscow. We spent New Years in Moscow, then flew deeper into Russia to a city named Perm. From Perm, it was a five hour bus ride through the countryside to Chalkovsky.
We went to bed early on New Year’s eve but did spend some time exploring Moscow and seeing the beautiful architecture near the red square. Lots of people and lots of soldiers out. Walking around Moscow we stuck out like blueberries in our matching jackets in a sea of dark trench coats and faded fur. It’s always cool to see a new city and experience a new culture.
Overall the weekend wasn’t what I was hoping for and it all came down to the jumping on Friday. We only had two training jumps and then the provisional jump (which is also qualification) so we really needed to be on our game right off the bat, which I really wasn’t. I just missed qualification for Saturday by jumping to 51st in provisional. So I spent Saturday spectating and getting ready for Sunday, which isn’t exactly what I was hoping to do. Sunday we woke up to some serious winds but went to the hill in hopes of getting a comp off on the big hill (Friday and Saturday was on the K95). I was one of the few who got a jump off, but they called it after 12 jumpers. This meant we raced off Friday’s provisional jump. So we all started the race much farther back than we would hope, but at leas then they use provisional for the race there’s no cut - everyone gets to race. I skied up to Brett in the race and we worked our way up as much as we could, but we really needed to start closer to the field to be in the thick of the race. I skied the 13th fastest race time and finished in 37th, solid for my first individual World Cup, but short of my goal of getting into the points (top 30).
Taylor was definitely the shining star of the team this weekend. Both days he through down wicked fast races and finished in 6th, from 49th and 43th after the jumping!
It was great to get a chance to compete on World Cup but now it’s back to Continental Cup. We took the long road to Hoydalmso, Norway for next weekend’s competitions.. Bus ride to Perm, Perm to Moscow flight, Moscow to Munich. In Munich we picked up Tyler Smith, one of the NTG athletes and road tripped up to northern Germany, spent the night, then finished off the drive to the far end of Denmark. Short ferry ride from Denmark to Norway then a couple more hours of driving to Hoydalsmo. We’re now five hours behind Chalkovsky time, which seems crazy that occurring to time zones were just about halfway back to the states. (But Russia didn’t quite get their time zones right. In Chalkovsky sunrise came at 10:30 am and then it stayed light until after 6 pm).
After Norway, we will trek back down to Germany and hopefully compete in another weekend of Continental Cups in Klingenthal, Germany. At present they don’t have any snow so we’re crossing our fingers that they can pull it off.
Where am I?