Well the season has been a bit of a struggle for me. I have not been jumping well and was hoping it was going to turn around in Norway. Unfortunately, I continued to struggle with my jumping and did not score any more COC points, which was my goal. However the second day I skied the 4th fastest time in the cross country race which helped lift my spirits.
The following weekend we were supposed to compete in the Klingenthal, Germany COC. Unfortunately, most of Europe has had warm weather and there was no snow to compete. Since that was the case we decided to return to Park City and train at home. I have been back for almost a week and have been staying busy. This past Saturday, teammates Adam Tyler, and I raced in a 10k classic race. It was my second classic ski of the winter and first classic race since I skied on the Steamboat Springs High School team my sophomore year! It was hard. But I had a lot of fun and enjoyed racing at home. The weather has been beautiful the past couple days, and I been on some long easy distance skis. This past weekend was also the Olympic qualifiers for slope style and half pipe. On Saturday night, I went to cheer on the athletes and watched them throw down some incredible tricks. To top it of OAR and Matisyahu had a concert after the event.
With the Olympics just around the corner everyone is wondering who is going to make the team. The nordic combined olympic team was just recently named. Bill Demong, Todd Lodwick, Bryan Fletcher, and Taylor Fletcher have been chosen to represent Team USA in Sochi. Because I haven't gotten the results, I did not make the 2014 Sochi team. I am disappointed, but because of the way I have been competing, I am not ready to compete at the Olympic level yet. However the season is not over. I am heading back to Europe in a couple weeks to compete on the COC circuit and hopefully finish the season on the World Cup. I am training just as hard and now even more determined to earn a spot on the World Cup circuit.
This past week was the OR Show down in Salt Lake City. This year the National Nordic Foundation had a booth and I went down with some other teammates to help out. Our goal was to raise awareness for the National Nordic Foundation. Without the NNF many athletes, including myself, wouldn't have the opportunity to train and compete with "power house" nations like Norway, Germany, and Austria. Additionally we would not be skiing at such an elite level with the NNF.
After Olympic Trials, I traveled over 13 time zones to Chaykovsky, Russia for my first World Cup of the winter. I flew to Russia on December 30 and spent New Years Eve in Moscow. I had a great time in Moscow, taking in the sights and walking around the Red Square. Unfortunately, because we had an early flight the next day, I headed back to our hotel and spent New Years with the team.
The next morning I flew from Moscow to Perm where we were joined by the Norwegian women jumpers and took a 5 hour bus ride south to Chaykovsky. It was a long couple days of traveling. Our first day in Chaykovsky, we went for a morning ski (10am). The conditions were extremely good but we were all surprised about how dark it was outside. We learned that the sun doesn't rise until 11:30am and sets at 5pm.
Friday was qualification for Saturdays World Cup on the HS105. We were all excited to finally get to jump. Qualification did not go for the U.S. team and three of us, including myself, did not qualify for Saturday's competition. Taylor and Brett were the only teammates to qualify.
Saturday went very well for teammate Taylor Fletcher. He didn't have a great jump but skied a blistering fast race and skied from 49th up to 6th and had the first fastest time! The lesson I learned was never to give up after the jumping. Tim Hug of Switzerland, and good friend, took the win making it his first World Cup victory of his career!
Sunday we moved from the HS105 up to the large hill. I was hoping to get another shot at qualifying for Sunday. However the conditions were far from ideal. It was snowing lightly and there was a strong tailwind on the hill. The jumping was delayed about an hour and they tried to send a couple athletes. Eventually the organizers cancelled the competition and decided to use everyones qualification jump from the HS105. This meant that all 54 athletes were able to race. The race on Sunday was really fun because it was my first World Cup competition. I started the race with Nick and we skied started skiing up but he dropped me in the last laps. Taylor skied another fast race and finished in 6th again.
Because of my poor results in Russia I will not be going to Chaux Neuve, France for the next World Cup. Instead I am now in Hoydalsmo, Norway on the Continental Cup and hope to have some breakthrough results that will help boost my confidence and jumping.
Hi! My name is Michael Ward. I am a 23 year old from Aspen, CO now living in Park City, UT to continue my career as a Nordic Combined athlete. I am on the 2015-16 US Nordic Combined Team and am honored to live and train with the best in the world.