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/
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