In the sport of Nordic Combined, there's always a first trip to Europe. I can remember how excited I was that first time over the pond. However, I never really imagined a trip to the Middle East until the past year or so - when they announced that the 2012 World Junior Championships would be in Erzurum, Turkey.
World Juniors aren't until late February, but we're heading over there now to compete in a Continental Cup - with the added bonus of getting a feel for the hill and race course. After Turkey, we'll head back to central Europe to compete in another COC in Szczyrk, Poland. We leave Saturday, New Year's Eve, but I haven't even ventured to total up the hours of travel ahead of us. Here's the itinerary:
Steamboat Springs to Denver (van ride)
Denver to Washington Dulles
Dulles to Frankfurt
Frankfurt to Prague
Prague to Istanbul
Istanbul to Ankara
Ankara to Erzurum
So that makes 6 flights and then we'll be there! Fortunately we'll spend a night in Prague to break up the travel.
The last couple weeks we've been training in Steamboat, recovering from the races in Park City and getting ready for the rest of the season. I was supposed to go home for Christmas right after Lake Placid, but when that was cancelled, changing flights was so difficult and expensive that I just stayed here. Fortunately, a couple of the family's in Steamboat took me in for Christmas celebrations. One highlight was on the day after Christmas. I went with Erik Lynch's family to a hockey rink in Kremmling - about an hour away. We played a solid 2.5 hours of hockey (with a lunch break between). I also got up on the mountain and tele skied the day before - so waking up Tuesday my body was pretty unhappy. But it's fun to go out and do something different! I can't say I've done much more than skate around on a lake since I ended my hockey career as a ten year-old.
I'll let you know how the travels and competition go - provided that I have internet. It should be quite an experience!
Join the tour and be a member of our team at the Nordic Combined World Cup finale in Oslo, Norway March 5—11, 2012. It's a bit spendy, but it would be quite an experience! Check out the links below.
The last two days of competition in Park City were even more exciting than the weekend. I set a career best each day and learned a lot along the way.
Tuesday morning we woke up to an inch or so of fresh snow and more coming down. The snow definitely affected the jumping; although it was fair for everyone, most jumps were shorter and everyone was very close together starting the race. For me, an 82m effort (not a long jump for most competitions on a K90) was good enough to start in 26th. It was nice to start the race in the top 30 for once. I skied most of the race with Nick Hendrickson and in the last lap broke into the top ten and ended up 6th, with the 4th fastest race time. Taylor Fletcher kept the podium streak alive with a 2nd place.
Here's a link to a brief Ski Team article about the day:http://usskiteam.com/news/fletcher-podium-again-soldier-hollow
Results are here: http://www.fis-ski.com/pdf/2012/NK/4078/2012NK4078ROF.pdf
Wednesday I was feeling good in the jumping again and uncorked my best ever jump in a major event: 91m, which put me in 8th after the jumping. I knew I could jump that well, but starting that high up was a little shocking and totally new to me. Dave Jarrett, the US Ski Team head coach, told me before the race that even though I was going to be in a position that I'd never been in before, not too think about that during the race, just to know that I deserved to be up there and to just get to the finish line as fast as possible.
Pretty early into the race I was third in a pack chasing down the lone leader. It didn't take long to pick off the early numbers who make a habit of jumping far but skiing back into much higher places. Going up the climb on the third of five laps we had the leader all but reeled in, but the pace was agonizingly slow and faster skiers were coming from the back. I went for it and picked up the pace. Before I knew it, finishing the lap I had a 10 or 15 second lead on 2nd place. It probably wasn't the smartest move tactically, but it was fun while it lasted and I felt like I had to try. Halfway into the fourth lap I was caught by a group of three, and the rest of the race was about the hardest thing I've done to try and hold on. I finished 5th and was for the first time the top American. Not quite the podium, but still I can't say it wasn't a successful couple of days.
And if you've really got a lot of time and want more detail than I'm giving you here, read this article on Fasterskier by Kerry Lynch: http://fasterskier.com/2011/12/nordic-combined-continental-cup-kicks-off-with-five-days-of-racing-in-utah/
Saturday we had a 2 man x 4 laps each of 2km team event. I raced with Brett Denney, and after the jumping we started a bit back in 16th. We clawed our way back up to finish 7th, just behind Erik Lynch and Michael Ward's team. Taylor Fletcher and Nick Hendrickson got the US on the podium with 3rd.
Today we had another individual race. I skied up from 37th to finish 17th. I had a good jump and a solid race until I hit the wall going into the last lap only a few seconds back from the top ten. To have a mediocre performance and still end up in the top 20 is a great sign of how much farther ahead I am then I was last year.
Speaking of improvements, our team had another great day as a whole. Taylor Fletcher threw down an incredible race to ski from 30th into first, and then keep going to win by 20 seconds. Erik Lynch, (who's 17 and trains with me in Steamboat), skied from 27th to an impressive 7th, Nick Hendrickson was 8th, and Michael Ward had a personal best finish of 14th.
Our first Continental Cup of the year was today in Park City. I'm really happy with my day for the first comp. I skied up from 40th to 13th, with the 5th fastest race time. Last year, I was only in the points once with a 28th; things are starting to pay off. As a whole, USA had a good day as well: Taylor Fletcher was 2nd, Nick Hendrickson 7th, Brett Denney 10th, myself 13th, and Erik Lynch 19th. Michael Ward would have been right ahead of Erik but he was disqualified for cutting off one V-board going into the finish. That's rough, but he'll be in there again all the other days.
Here's a link to the results.
The bad news is that Lake Placid is cancelled because of lack of snow. To make up for those missed comps, they’re going to have 2 more competitions here after this weekend. So Monday will be off, then we’ll compete Tuesday and Wednesday. It's going to be a tough few days. Back at it tomorrow with a team comp!
I found this on johnnyklister and thought it was a story worth sharing.http://johnnyklister.com/
Years ago, right about the time young Kikkan was getting serious, a coach in a bar at a ski race with a lot of experience trundled out the familiar attitudes around skiing that tends to sweep over folks when they talk about the US and skiing. Speaking of Kikkan, he said:
“I mean she’s good, but I don’t see her contending on the World Cup.”
He said it with certainty. He believed that. Fortunately, Kikkan never heard that- or if she did, she never believed that. Belief is a funny thing. The time and investment Kikkan has put into her skiing, the strong support APU has given her and the unbridled optimism that balances Kikkan’s competitive drive with her focus, have turned her into a real force, an American skiing icon and the type of racer that will keep Scandinavians up at night wracked with concern (or at least hints of disbelief.) For Americans trying to make it, indomitable perseverance, positivity and belief are the greatest weapons we can borrow from the Alaskan contender on the World Cup.
I've had quite a busy week getting ready for the first competition of the year, as well as organizing a team fundraiser.
The fundraiser goes back to about a month ago when my boss Lynne, was thinking aloud about how they should celebrate their shop's Second Anniversary (Ciao Gelato, that is). The year before they held a fundraiser to buy Community Cultivation a greenhouse, but this year there wasn't anything that was jumping out for them to do. I suggested, half-jokingly, that they could do a fundraiser for the National Training Group, but I really didn't think she would take me seriously. Then the next day Lynne said, "You know what, why not? Let's do it."
Lynne and her husband Massimo handled the food and helped with the advertising side. My teammates - mostly Tyler and Spencer - and I put together a pretty solid silent auction and did our best to get the community involved. It was a fair amount of work at times and a totally new thing for me, but by Friday night at 6 it all but worked out just as planned.
With the help of a generous community, as well as some of our own contributions, we got together over 35 silent auction items, from equipment, clothing, ski lessons, to concrete pouring. Craig Ward live auctioned a ski we all signed which went for $130. After that, Kandise Gilbertson (one of the US Ski Team coaches' wife) stepped up and bought the other signed ski of the pair for $110!
Between the auctions and generous donations, we raised over $4000! I was thinking 3000 would be great, so it was a success without a doubt. Now we'll work out submitting the money to cover our next trips to Park City and Lake Placid, and see where that leaves us.
Saturday we had our first competition of the year, Winter Start. It was actually a pretty good sized field, besides our 8 man team we had three Ski Team members, some special jumpers from the Midwest, and the four Czech athletes that have been training here all week.
Todd Lodwick won the jumping, but was caught in the final kilometer by Brett Denney, one of the B team athletes. I started in 10th, ahead of Brett, and was able to stay on him after he passed me for most of the race. I ended up finishing in 3rd, which I'm pretty satisfied with. Next weekend is when it starts to matter, but it's great to have a good comp leading in. And is was fun to ski a faster race than the old man Todd.
Where am I?