It has been a pretty good start to the season for me so far! I started my season in Steamboat Springs at the Winter Start competition. I have done this competition the last few years and, for me, it is a great way to see how I feel on the ski jump and on the cross country course. I joined my teammate Ben Berend in Steamboat right after Thanksgiving. Park City didn't have much snow and it was hard to do any cross country training. Steamboat on the other hand had more snow and so I decided to leave for Steamboat a couple days early. Training during the week went well. I jumped very well and I felt even better than I had this summer on the cross country side. I was anxious to get the competition underway. The competition took place on the following Saturday. I jumped semi well in competition, but nowhere near the level I was hoping for. My nordic combined jump was only 84.5 meters (1:22 seconds) behind Ben. The second competition jump went much better and I had the second longest jump of the round at 97 meters. This was much more like it. Unfortunately we only use the first competition round jump for the nordic combined race. The race went really well. I paced myself perfectly. I started in 8th place and slowly pulled in the leaders, Ben Loomis and Ben Berend. Luckily on the last lap, with about 200 meters to go, I was able to squeeze Ben Berend and take the victory by only 2 seconds! In my opinion, this was a bittersweet victory. Not to be a negative Nancy, but I was not happy with my performance. I was happy with the win, but not happy with my jumping performance. I knew that I would have to improve my jumping even more if I wanted to earn a spot on the World Cup this season.
After Steamboat, I returned to Park City to get ready for the Continental Cups the following weekend. My jumping didn't really improve during the week of training which was frustrating but happy that I wasn't going back to my old ways of jumping. The weekend consisted of three competitions. One on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Friday went well. I jumped into the 20's and skied my way up to 10th place. This was one of my best international results of my career and I wanted to keep this momentum going. The second day I jumped again into the 20s but skied a much faster race finishing with the 3rd fastest time and placing 6th overall. I was really happy with the result and was feeling very confident for Sunday's competition. Sunday I unfortunately didn't jump as well as the first two days and started over 2:00 from the leaders. I skied another very fast race and was able to finish the day in 12th. I ended the first period 8th in the overall COC rankings. All in all it was a great start to my season.
The day after Sunday's competition, I flew over to Austria for the last World Cup of the first period. It was a quick turn around! My goal for the week was to qualify and score World Cup points. Unfortunately, I did not jump well. I didn't qualify either day for the competition and was very upset with my performance. The rest of the team had its ups and downs. The first day Bryan was able to score points but Taylor and Adam just missed the top 30. The second day Taylor had a good day finishing 20th and Bryan 26th. Adam was just outside of the top 30(points). Our team as a whole left everything out there, but it wasn't the results that we wanted. I am now back in Park City for a day and then heading home to Aspen for my birthday and Christmas with the family. I think a couple days away from jumping will really help me clear my head and I will be ready to go after Christmas. Lastly, it is unfortunate that Europe is not having a great winter. Austria had just enough snow to be able to jump and ski. Our team was supposed to head to Germany after Christmas for another World Cup, but it was cancelled due to lack of snow. As for now, we are waiting to hear when our next competitions will be. I am looking forward to the new year and to make some big improvements on the ski jumps! I want to wish everyone a Happy Holidays! I will keep you posted about our upcoming schedule!
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.