It almost feels like winter with a typical Thursday rest day. (During the season, we usually take Thursdays off before the competition weekend). As it happens, we're just getting some recovery in the middle of an intensity block, which started Monday with intervals and then continued with a training comp and race on both Tuesday and Wednesday. Tomorrow we get back at it with two-a-day interval sessions Friday and Saturday. So I'm enjoying today and I thought I'd take the time to catch up on things here.
The end of July brought the annual Springer Tournee in Park City. This year, we also had our National Championships at the end of the competition week. Amongst the craziness of the week, we managed to get the entire USA Nordic Team together, including the Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Devo, National teams and staff. Our 6-man national team feels pretty small, but when you bring everyone together as one team, we suddenly have an impressive crew!
The jumping competition in Springer Tournee and Nationals was pretty deep with guys like Kevin Bickner and Will Rhoads jumping at a really high level right now. Nonetheless, we had four of us NC guys inside the top-10 of Americans on both days of jumping.
My Nationals went about as well as I could possibly have hoped, which is somewhat of a rarity given all of the variables in a nordic combined competition. I put down my best jump of the week on the one that counted. This set me up to start the race in second place, 26 seconds behind defending-champion Bryan Fletcher. At the start of the race at Soldier Hollow, the chasers behind me were more on my radar than Bryan. Taylor - one of the fast NC skiers in world - was only 34 seconds behind me. I usually need to have a good race to just be within a minute of Taylor's time. Michael was the wildcard, starting a few more seconds behind Taylor, with the possibility of being able to hitch a ride up to me.
As the race unfolded the 90 degree heat soon took a toll on everyone. My even pacing began to pay dividends. Taylor went for broke in the beginning of the race - a bold but commendable strategy. After all, might as well go for the win or die trying. Taylor "hit the wall" before he made it up to me. In this sense, I was a bit lucky; it's a rare thing for Taylor to truly blow up. In the last couple kilometers, I pulled close enough to Bryan to make him nervous, but he still had few seconds to spare coming into the final stretch to celebrate his victory. I came in 5 seconds behind him, exhausted, hot and somewhat surprised to have just came in second place at National Championships.
On one hand, two podiums in two years at National Championships is a pretty cool career achievement - but I've still got one spot to go! And in reality, our success is measured on the international scale, and this day was just good competition experience to take with me into the future. We'll be at Summer Grand Prix in just a few weeks to get a true test of our level against the rest of the world's.
My dad made it out for the week and took some great jumping and XC shots, including the one of Bryan above. Here's me on one of the short transition hills at Soldier Hollow. The most astute viewers might notice the white boots. I'm switching to Atomic next season for cross country skis and boots, and just broke out the new boots a couple of weeks ago. Bill, Todd and Johnny used to all ski on Atomic, but now Taylor was the only one of our team left skiing for them, and it only took me a bit of testing this spring to decide that skiing for Atomic would be great.
Speaking of equipment and new sponsors, I'm also proud to be on One Way poles this year. Not only do they make the lightest, stiffest and coolest (read: neon) poles on the market, but the One Way rep lives right in Park City. When in comes to equipment, right after quality comes service and relationships, and you can't beat working with someone who is practically your neighbor.
Also, I'm partnering with Out There Nordic, a Rice Lake, Wisconsin based ski shop who has connected a team of nordic and biathlon athletes from all around the world. I'm excited to be a part of this unique team, and am hoping to work with Out There to put together a fundraiser later this fall, in order to raise money towards my team buy-in costs.
If anyone has any ideas of suggestions about fundraising, let me know. I've been working hard serving Schnitzel and Merlot at Adolph's, but I need to taper back my work hours as we put in more high intensity training and start traveling.
That said, it's not all work and no play. I'm about to go out and hit a golf ball for the first time in about forever, so wish me luck. I'll need it.
Where am I?