I'm back in the states now after a good couple weeks on the road. Swiss Nationals was a fun event with tough competition on the jump hill. Simon Amman - double Olympic Champion in Salt Lake and Vancouver, took the win in the jumping event and set the gate low.
Our friend Tim Hug took the win in the Nordic Combined event, ahead of Bryan Fletcher and Bill Demong. I came in a solid 4th after a challenging running race.
Tim is the lone Swiss NoCo athlete on the World Cup circuit. Over the past couple years, our team as adopted a partnership with the Swiss. We try to get together to train during summer camps, and come winter, he'll travel with us and work with our wax techs. His coach is from Oberstdorf, and extremely helpful for our team.
After competing in Einsiedeln we drove a couple hours through the mountains to sunny Oberstdorf, Germany. The first day there was beautiful, but the good weather didn't last for long.
Fortunately we were able to get a couple great sessions on Oberstdorf's large hill and one on the small hill. In October they run their refrigeration system on the iced-track inrun. The landing hill is still plastic, but it's a half step towards winter jumping and great to feel snow underfoot.
The best part about being in Oberstdorf this time of year is seeing the competition. The German, Austrian, Finnish and Norwegian Nordic Combined teams were all jumping at the same time with us. Since we're so removed in the states, its important to see where the level is at. Bryan's usually the strongest jumper on our team, and he was right in there with the best guys. I had some of my best jumps of the summer on Oberstdorf, and was pretty happy with how close I was to the other jumpers.
Tuesday morning brought rain, and by that night, it turned to snow. We were hoping to have an intrasquad competition on Wednesday, but in October snow can be a bit difficult. Too sticky for the landing hill and too slippery for roller skiing. Bryan, Brett and Taylor had already planned to leave on Wednesday. Although they were bummed to not get in one last comp, they picked an alright time to head home.
The snowstorm turned out to be more serious than we had imagined. Wednesday evening I went for a run and just a couple kilometers up into the mountains from our hotel the snow went from 3 or 4 inches to a solid foot deep. If we had cross country skis, we could have got some decent skiing in. Unfortunately we were relegated to the gym and wet running or roller skiing for two days, before we packed up and drove to Stams, near Innsbruck, Austria.
In Stams, we were just below the snowline, and back to Indian Summer. We got in a good day of jumping and a competition to finish off the camp. Michael took the win - proving he's ready as anyone for the winter to get started.
We spent Saturday night in Munich and then fly home the next day. All-in-all it was a great camp: quality training, good competitions, and a fun chance to show the younger athletes the ropes.
Now it's time to fight off a little jet lag and get ready for the season! Less than 4 week and I'll be back over in Kuusamo, Finland to start the World Cup season. Our team is taking four guys - Bryan and Taylor Fletcher, Brett Denney, and me. I'm psyched to be starting the season on World Cup for the first time.
If the weather right now gives any indication, northern Finland will be deep into winter by the time we get there! Check out the forecast: http://www.weather.com/weather/tenday/Ruka+Finland+1965:11
Last but not least we have just over two weeks left in the Drive for 25 and over $12,000 of matching grants still up for grabs! Please consider helping our cause now. Your donation will be doubled as we're working towards our $20,000 matching grant. And, as always, it's tax-deductible.
I can’t stress enough how important NNNF support has been to my career, and I wouldn't be where I am today without it. As I've progressed from a developing junior to a member of the B-team, the NNF has helped fund vital training and competition opportunities. This community-based support keeps our pipeline alive, and will continue to benefit the next generations of athletes. We really need your help to reach our $20,000 matching grant. If you donate now, you’re dollars will be doubled. We’re a community driven sport, which means that every individual’s support goes a long ways, and we couldn’t do it without you. The funding from this drive will go to support athletes for the next year at World Junior Championships, Continental Cups, and development camps in the US and Europe.
Click here to donate, and, better yet, spread the word!
No complaints on the trip so far. Our stopover in Lake Placid was great - I wish we could have been there longer.
The focus of the weekend was mostly on competition: Flaming Leaves and US Nationals. We did have time for one fundraiser, which was put on by Bill's mom, Helen Demong. It was the first joint fundraiser for USA Ski Jumping, Nordic Combined and Women's Jumping. We really are one big community, and people were generous in the support of the combined cause.
We all stayed at the Olympic Training Center (OTC). It's ideal for training and competition: plenty of healthy food from the "caf," sports med, a gym, sauna, all the works, right in house.
Nationals, on Sunday, was a highlight for me. I put down a solid jump to start the race in 3rd (tied with my brother) and behind the Fletcher brothers.
In the race, the Fletchers were a bit out of reach, but Bill Demong and Brett Denney were on hot the chase behind me. I really didn't know if I could hold them off until the end.
At the end of the day, I still have to keep my sights set on the level of the international field, but cracking podium was good step and great feeling. Big congrats to Bryan for his first Nationals Championship title, and Taylor, in 2nd, with his at least third podium at Nationals!
More pics from LP:
Now we're in Einsiedeln, Switzerland, with a total of 15 athletes. I've never spent any time in Switzerland before, but this town is so Swiss it's almost cliché (in a good way). The landscape is rolling in bright greens, the bells of grazing cows and sheep constantly ring, and jagged mountains crown the horizon. Einsiedeln is home to a massive but beautiful monastery. Everything about the town is quiet and simple, but the ski jumps are fully modern. While were here, we're focusing on quality jumping and competition.
This weekend is Swiss Nationals! It'll be an interesting competition. The NC portion is a running race, and in the special jumping competition we'll be competing against 4-time Olympic Champion Simon Ammann. Check him out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dMhblZqNn0
One of the highlights of the stay so far was running intervals up the Grosser Mythen with our Swiss friends. For the younger athletes, trying to keep up with the likes of Taylor and Bill can be tough, but it's much easier when you're rewarded with surreal views of the Swiss Alps.
We're into the "prep-phase" now, where we move into more intensity and training is all about quality. The last few weeks have been busy, and tomorrow the real craziness begins.
I've spent nearly two full months in Park City in a row. OK -- maybe that's not too extraordinary, but I'm definitely ready to get back on the road. Tomorrow we leave for Lake Placid, NY, for US Nationals, and on Monday we'll fly over to Europe... with a huge crew!
In addition to the team, we'll have 9 junior athletes making the trip with us from LP to Europe, where we'll compete in Swiss Nationals as well as train in Oberstdorf, Germany. Stay tuned for an exciting trip, but for now, back to the last few weeks.
The biggest news for our team is that Bryan is now a married man! He sealed the deal with Nicole Thorsen at a beautiful event up at the Canyons Resort just a week and a half ago. Unfortunately, no time for a honeymoon for Bryan!
Last weekend Madshus had a fun event at Whitepine Touring to demonstrate their new empower technology. All their skis now have a RFID chip in them that tracks everything from production to the consumer. It'll make the job of buying skis in stores a lot easier - and should really help out with waxing, especially for classic. They even have an app to go with it. So much technology these days!
Sunday I helped Andy Newell and Simi Hamilton from the cross-country team lead Speed Camp. I don't have the expertise (or the speed) of these guys, who both have World Cup podiums in sprint races, but it was fun to help out and learn from them.
If you don't have World Cup athletes to lead you, the takeaway from Speed Camp is that going fast is all about balance, agility and ski skills. The younger athletes ran through fun drills and agility courses - on and off curbs, forwards and backwards, side to side.
Despite a few rainy days, it's been a beautiful fall here. The fall colors are pretty underrated here and this was the first September that I've been around to appreciate them. Lake Placid's competition is called Flaming Leaves - so it should be pretty nice there as well!
Where am I?