The winter ski jumping started in November. Park City was the first ski jump in the world open for jumping on snow! My jumping had not been up to par during the summer but once we were on snow, it turned around. I was extremely happy with the improvements.
I spent Thanksgiving with family in Tacoma, Washington. I returned to Park City on Friday to prepare for the Winter Start competition in Steamboat Springs.
Unfortunately Park City lost a lot of snow due to warm weather and there was no way to cross country ski. I drove to Steamboat where they had plenty of snow. I spent the whole week cross country skiing and jumping with the National Training Group. It was really fun being able to train in my 'second” home town. The conditions were great; however the temperatures during the week dropped into the negatives and it made training tougher. When the weekend came around, the temperatures were on the rise. Saturday was my first nordic combined competition of the season. Unfortunately, my jump didn't go well and I ended up starting in 11th for the cross country race. I had a mediocre race and skied up to 6th place. The following day my jump was a little better and I started the cross country portion in 7th and skied up to 3rd place, right behind U. S. Ski teammates Nick Hendrickson and Adam Loomis. This was a good competition to “get the cobwebs out”
I traveled back to Park City to prepare for the first Continental Cup of the season Dec. 17-19. A total of 48 athletes representing 12 countries were in attendance. U.S. Teammate Bill Demong flew back from Europe to compete and dominated the week. He finished 1st. Nick and Adam also had some great results and both finished in the top 20 overall. National Training Group athlete Ben Berend was the skier of the week. Last year he struggled to score Continental Cup points, but in the first competition he finished 12th! The following day he continued to score points. He finished the week 22nd overall. I struggled on the jump and had two 25th place finishes. I was really frustrated because my jumping had been going really well but I couldn't find the same feeling during competition.
After the competition I went home to Aspen for Christmas with my family. I had a great time in Aspen, skiing with friends and family. I alpine skied Alpine and couple cross country every day. On my birthday I skied with the Aspen Valley Ski Club nordic team. We went for an easy cross country ski and worked on balance and transitions. I had a great time skiing with the kids. I predict the team includes a few future ski team athletes in the making. I had a great week with my family and friends. It was good to take my mind off of jumping.
Now I am back in Park City to compete at the Olympic Trials on December 28th. There will be 10 athletes including myself vying for a spot on the US Olympic Team. You might want to watch the Olympic Qualifiers for both Nordic Combined and Ski Jumping on Sunday, December 29th at 11:30 a.m. MT on NBC.
I'll keep you posted. Happy New Year's to all!