Well this is a bit late but better late than never.
A brief summary of the comps in Planica:
First, the complex: Planica is best known for its ski flying hill. This fall, however, they finished rebuilding and renovating their normal and large hill. They literally had too much money in the budget and couldn’t spend enough of it on the complex. Hard to believe, but true. One example of the extravagance is indoor escalator that runs beneath the K125 inrun and down to the K95.
The big hill – which we competed on – was so much fun! Unfortunately results weren’t great this weekend. None of us were off by too much technically, but on a hill like that small miscues can turn into big issues. Saturday we did all race really well and Nick led the way in 25th with the 7th fastest race, Michael was 26th with the 5th fastest time, and I was 29th with the 4th fastest time. Sunday, I led the way but was 33rd – no points for us.
Craig Ward (Michael's dad) took some great photos in Planica. All of the ones of us racing are from him.
We didn’t have any competitions this weekend, so we stayed and trained in Seefeld, Austria. Our “rest week” ended up being pretty busy and flew by – mostly because of our trip to Predazzo. On Friday morning we drove the short 2 hour trip down to watch Nordic World Championships in Predazzo, Italy. First we watched the normal hill individual combined – where Bryan led the way with a solid 14th place.
The real highlight of the week was watching Sarah Hendrickson win a World Championship gold! It really was incredible to be a part of the team cheering her on to the top spot in the world.
Another highlight from Seefeld was skinning up one of the nearby alpine mountains with one of our Austrian friends who lives nearby. Trying to carve the steep icy hill coming down was not easy, but it was a whole lot of fun and a pretty great way to get in some training.
Sunday we started the journey up to Norway. From Seefeld it’s close to ten hours of driving to Kiel, Germany, on the North Sea. And then we hop on a ferry for 24 hours and arrive in Oslo. We did manage to find a Autohof to grab lunch and turn on Eurosport exactly as the Nordic Combined team race started. Team USA brought in their third medal with a very stellar bronze. Earlier on Sunday, Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggens won gold in the team sprint. What a weekend for the US!
It is very much a winter-wonderland here. No jumping up in Planica yet but we were able to jump down in Kranj today - which is about 30 minutes away and much less snowy. Here's a few pictures.
Seefeld, Eisenerz and Now Planica
Week one of six or seven is in the bag. We’ve all got a lot ahead of us. But here’s a quick update of the happenings so far.
The team – consisting of Coach Greg, Michael Ward, Nick Hendrickson and I – flew over last Monday to meet up with Brett Denney in Munich. We drove straight to Seefeld, Austria for a little pre-camp. Seefeld – just outside of Innsbruck – is your typical Austrian nordic and alpine ski town consisting of endless trail networks, abundant snow and happy, outdoorsy tourists. We had two solid jump sessions, a couple sweet afternoon skis, and then it was off to Eisenerz.
Eisenerz is a quiet old mining town that shows a different side of Austria. The only tourism around seemed to be backcountry skiing. I have to say, jogging to the hill in the mornings I was a bit jealous of the 50 some alpiners gearing up to shred some limitless pow. In Eisenerz there seems to be two types of weather – cloudy and snowy or sunny and still snowy. Anyways, we’re here to compete, not just to hike around and enjoy the vistas.
The biggest news from the weekend is, unfortunately, bad news. Brett Denney fell on the landing hill on his first competition jump. He’s a bit banged up and was out for the weekend. Our team has had pretty decent luck avoiding injuries, but when it happens it’s really sad to see someone sit out. It makes me appreciate my good health. We’ll find out soon whether or not he’s able to compete this next weekend.
In terms of results, I had a 24th and 19th place finish, Nick skied into points the first day to finish 29th, and Michael was just a bit out of points in the 30’s. Eisenerz’s hill is pretty hit or miss, too put it one way. Most people don’t love it, but it’d be boring if the hills were all the same. I had some a couple real good jumps in training and fell a short of my high expectations in the comps, but it was still a solid way to start the trip.
Today we left Eisenerz and drove to Planica, Slovenia, where we’ll compete this weekend. Along the way we took advantage of the US Ski Team doctors in Schladming, Austria, where Alpine World Champs are currently going on. (Congrats to Ligety and Mancuso for bringing in some medals – we just got into Planica in time to see Ligety take the gold in the combined).
It sucks to have to go to see doctors anytime, but considering the need, it was pretty lucky that we could see these guys. Brett took a concussion test and as soon as they compare it to his baseline we’ll find out his return status – cross your fingers. Nick also got a little work done on a sore knee.
Now for a couple days of great training in Planica and we’ll be ready to rock this weekend.
Last but not least, a big thanks to everyone supporting us, especially through the NNF, which is picking up a big part of the tab for this trip. We really couldn’t do it without the support and are extremely grateful to the opportunities that we have.
Where am I?