After Hoydalsmo we drove to Falun, Sweden for another weekend of Continental Cups. Falun is the site of this year's Nordic World Championships so it was great to be able to get some jumps on the hills and to ski the trails. The venue is coming along very nicely and they look to be almost finished. We arrived on Monday night in Falun after about 10 hours of traveling. When we got there we went for a short run from the hotel to the cross country and ski jumping stadiums. It was only about 5 PM but it was pitch black out. I guess that's what I get for being this far North! Throughout the week we were able to get a couple of jump sessions under our belt and went on some great cross country skis. On Saturday we had the team competition. I was paired with Colin Delaney. We unfortunately didn't have a great result but had a fun time competing together. The following day was an individual competition. I was feeling good and confident, but couldn't put a solid competition jump together. I skied a great cross country race, but was unable to score any points for the weekend. I was pretty disappointed with the results but I was looking forward to the following weekend of competitions in Planica, Slovenia.
After Sunday's race in Falun, we drove through the night to get on a boat that would take us to Germany and then had another drive from northern Germany to Munich. The total travel time was almost 24 hours. I was really happy to get to Munich and sleep in a comfy bed. The next morning we went to the airport and picked up 2 more athletes, Somer Schrock and Ben Loomis. Both of them were named to the World Junior Championship team. We then drove about 3 more hours to Planica. When we arrived, there was hardly any snow. Luckily the hill crew had made enough snow so the ski jumps were in good condition. However, finding a good place to cross country ski was a little more difficult. One of the days we drove to Tarvisio, Italy to ski.
The weekend in Planica had its ups and downs. Once again I wasn't able to jump to my full potential and started Saturday's race in 45th place, almost 1:30 out of 30th(points). Knowing I had to ski my butt off to be able to ski on Sunday, I gave it my all. I skied a great race, turning in the 6th fastest time, and finishing 32 just 13 seconds out of 30th. It was a hard pill to swallow but I was also happy for my teammate Jasper Good who was 30th. It was his first COC points of his career and a big step in the right direction for him. The next day I sat out of the competition so Ben Loomis and Somer Schrock could compete. It was important for them to get an international race under their belt before heading off to World Juniors. It was probably good for me to take a step back and take a break from competing. Watching my teammates compete was really fun and I had a great time cheering them on, especially Jasper. Once again Jasper put himself in contention for points. He had another amazing day of jumping and racing, finishing in 28th. I like to think that my screaming and cheering for him on the side of the course had something to do with it. It was really inspiring for me to watch him have such a successful weekend.
Over the next couple days, the team parted ways. Colin and I drove to Predazzo, Italy for the next World Cup, and the rest of the team drove to Munich to fly to Almaty, Kazakhstan for World Juniors. Colin and I arrived in Predazzo on Monday night and met up with the World Cup team. I was really excited to be able to compete on the World Cup. During the week I went on some great cross country skis with the team. Predazzo has some of the best trails I have ever skied. Friday was the first of three competitions and I was selected to ski. Unfortunately, I had a little trouble on the jump. During my first jump on the hill I crashed. Luckily I was ok, but I ended up breaking one of my skis. After the crash I was pretty flustered and it really effected the rest of my jumping. My competition jump was not great and I started the race almost 3 minutes behind the leader. I skied an ok race but only moved up a couple spots. This was not a step in the right direction and I was very frustrated. The following day was another 2 person team event. Once again Colin and I were a pair. I had a hard time on both ends. Jumping didn't go well, and I did not feel great during the race. It was tough weekend but it was good for me to ski with the best in the world and get some experience.
After Predazzo, I returned to Planica with Adam, Taylor, and Colin for a week of training. While I was in Italy, Planica had gotten a lot of new snow and it made cross country training much easier. However, the ski jumps were not prepared to jump so we drove about 30 minutes to Kranj for jump training. My goal for the week was to make some changes in my jumping and I did just that. I was really happy with the progress I made.
Now I am in Ramsau am Dachstein, Austria preparing for the upcoming COC. I have been to Ramsau only 2 other times and it is one of my favorite places in Europe. I have been here one day and already don't want to leave. Yesterday I went for a long easy ski from our hotel into town and to the ski jumps and back. Today we are planning on doing an interval session in the morning and then hoping to get some jump training in sometime in the afternoon. I will keep you posted on my training this week and the competition this upcoming weekend.
Well the U.S. Nordic Combined team had it's ups and downs this weekend. My teammates at the World Cup in Chaux Neuve, France had a spectacular weekend. Taylor Fletcher led the way for the U.S. with an incredible 5th place finish today. Bryan Fletcher took 20th the first day and 8th today. Finally, Adam Loomis scored his first World Cup points of his career, finishing 21st yesterday. It is great to see his hard work pay off.
As for the team in Norway, we had a rough weekend. Yesterday the conditions were very tough. It was snowing very hard and pretty windy. After sending about 20 athletes, the FIS organizers decided to cancel the jumping and use the PCR jump from Friday. I started the race 2:40 back from the leaders and 40 seconds back from points (30th place). I knew I would be capable of skiing into points if I stayed relaxed and skied my own race. During the race I slowly moved up places and going into the last lap I was around 25th place. Unfortunately I broke my pole and lost a lot of time and ended up 36th. I was really frustrated and but was looking forward to Sunday to put in a good result. We had great conditions today on the jump but I was not able to capitalize on the opportunity and had a poor result on the hill. The cross country race went much better today but I was too far behind to move up places. I finished 40th. My other teammates had a hard time on the jump hill as well and, like me, were unable to score COC points this weekend.
We are all pretty upset with our results but ready to make some changes before next weekend's COC in Falun, Sweden. I have never been to Falun so I am really excited to jump a new hill and to try and improve my results. I will keep you updated! Hope everyone had a happy holidays!
I have already have had a wonderful beginning to 2015! After heading home for the holidays, I returned to Park City to continue training. I had several jumping sessions and really made some good improvements on the hill. I am looking forward to taking my jumping over to Europe and continue the progress. On Saturday I raced in one of the Wasatch Citizen Series cross country races in Park City. Last winter I raced quite a bit of these. Anyways Bill Demong and I raced together and did very well. Bill was 2nd and I was 5th. The rest of the top 5 were all skiers from the University of Utah and very strong athletes. I was really happy with my result and feel really good as get ready for the Continental Cups in Hoydalsmo, Norway this upcoming weekend. I am now at the airport waiting for my flight to Europe. I am excited to finally head back over for competitions. I will update you again when I get to Norway!
Happy New Year! I hope everyone has had a wonderful holiday season! It’s been a long time since I updated my website… however I haven’t been sitting around on my hands! Let me update you on my past months of training and competitions and what the future holds.
My competition season started in early December in Steamboat Springs. I skied very well at Winter Start however my jumping was really struggling. I jumped to 10th place and skied up to 3rd overall. I was happy to have such a great cross country race and it definitely boosted my confidence going into the Continental Cups the following weekend.
I skied some good races in Park City at the Continental Cup opener, with 24th and 28th finishes. With some adjustments to my ski jumping I will be ready to dramatically improve my results, as my ski racing is already at a high level. I had the 6th fastest time in the first event, and the 12th fastest time in the second race. Results are here:
Training was good this fall, as I joined my other teammates in a training camp in Germany, Switzerland and Austria in October. My jumping returned to normal near the end of the camp, in Stams, Austria. It was so good to get positive feelings back on the jump hill, as I won the last inter-squad competition there.
It is so easy to get all wrapped up in what others call a “batter’s slump”. You’ve probably experienced similar efforts, where even if you try harder and harder to overcome something, it just doesn’t work. I’m getting a lot more confident of my capabilities, and I know that keeping a positive attitude with a lot of patience will get me to the place where I want to be.
Thanks, too, for all your support! Noah Hoffman and I had a wonderful outpouring of support in Aspen in early November. We helped to raise over $22,000 for the Rocky Mountain Nordic Angel program… and that program will assist me this winter in racing and training expenses. I also want to thank Mike Elliott of RMN for making this so successful!
So now I’m off to Hoydalsmo, Norway, then Falun, Sweden, and hopefully Planica, Slovenia for 3 Continental Cup events in January. I’ll be traveling with my old coach, Martin Bayer, formerly of the Steamboat Winter Sports Club, and others on the “B” and “C” Nordic Combined team members. Then in February I’ll go to Val DiFemme, Italy to compete in the World Cup there, and then to other events like the Klingenthal COC race... then depending on my results could travel to Falun Sweden for the Nordic World Championships. Hopefully my other US Ski Team athletes from Aspen, Simi Hamilton and Noah Hoffman, will be there as well.
Here is the schedule of Nordic Combined races: http://data.fis-ski.com/nordic-combined/calendar.html
Again I wish everyone a Happy New Year! I hope that 2015 will be the best for you!! I’ll keep you updated here with results and my racing in Europe.
The leaves are changing colors here in Park City and the mornings are getting a little chillier. This is one of my favorite times of the year, not only because of the beautiful colors, but also because the ski season is just around the corner! I have been training hard here in Park City and I feel like I am making progress both on the cross country side and and ski jumping side! Last week was a rest week and I focused on ski jumping. This week we have started to increase on the hours of training again. I started the week off with a long easy distance roller ski around Park City. Tuesday we were back on the HS100 again. The session went really well! I jumped with more confidence and I finished the session on a positive note. We then went to the Center of Excellence after jumping for a strength session. Today, the team headed down to Soldier Hollow for an interval session. I felt great warming up and skied really well through most of the intervals. However on the last two my legs started to fade. This week has started off really well and I am looking forward to jumping tomorrow and finishing the week off strong! Saturday, my teammate Bryan Fletcher is getting hitched! I want to congratulate Bryan and his fiancee! Bryan is one of my biggest role models and I wish him all the best!
I hope everyone is enjoying the fall like weather and getting ready to dust off the skis!
This past week was another intensity block. I wasn't feeling very rested going into the week so I had to make sure I stayed in the correct heart rate(HR) zone. For those of you who aren't familiar with HR zones, here is a quick explanation. There are 6 zones/levels:
Level 1=easy (HR 90-130 BPM)
Level 2=moderate (HR 130-155 BPM)
Level 3=steady state (HR 155-170 BPM)
Level 4=interval (HR 170-185 BPM)
Level 5=Race (HR 185-195 BPM)
Level 6=Overspeed (HR 195-205 BPM)
*Levels are different for everyone.
Now because last week was an intensity block, we focused mainly on Levels 4-5. Monday we had two interval session. Monday I didn't feel great and I think I was still tired from the Steamboat Stage Race. On Tuesday we had planned to have a nordic combined competition, but due to bad weather, we got the day off. I really need the rest. The competition was moved to Wednesday. We jumped the HS140 and roller skied a 10k down in Soldier Hollow. My jumping was ok but not where I need to be. I hadn't jumped the HS140 since Springer Tournee, so I didn't really know what to expect. I surprised myself with an ok jump. The roller ski race went well. I started about 10 seconds behind Taylor Fletcher, Adam Loomis, and Bill Demong, but couldn't reel them in. I wasn't feeling great but I had improved my time from the previous time trial so I was happy about . Thursday was another double interval day. We did running intervals with poles up the Canyons Ski Resort. Friday I did running steady states on my own at the Olympic Park. I haven't been running very much, so it felt good to change up the training. Saturday was another day of intervals and they went really well. We finished up the intensity block on Sunday with a 10k hill climb near Heber. I had never done it before but I had heard it was a very hard time trial. I was feeling good and skied very well finishing with the 3rd fastest time behind Brett Denney and Taylor Fletcher. I was really happy with the way I finished the week.
Now we have a rest week to help us recover. We have jumped twice and both sessions have been going really well. Today we did another interval session up the ski area. This will be the only hard session of the week. Hope everyone is enjoying the fall colors!
It has been a busy couple weeks lately! I have been training everyday, working as much as possible, and taking a few online college classes which has limited my time for updated my website. Here is what I have been up to the past couple weeks.
After a poor showing at Springer Tournee, I stayed in Park City and had some private jump sessions with my coach. I really focused on everything we had been working on and I slowly but surely started making improvements. The next couple weeks I focused mainly on ski jumping because I know that if I want to ski on the World Cup, my jumping is going to have to change dramatically.
The following week, I traveled back to Aspen with the rest of my teammates for a training camp and fundraising event. One of the real plus sides for going home was that the USA Pro Cycling Challenge was in Aspen the exact same time. I drove over with Adam. When we arrived we went for a easy run along the Government Trail on Buttermilk ski area. The next day we went on a ride with several of Bill Demong's friends like former Tour de France rider, Christian Vande Velde and some locals. Needless to say, we had a blast. On Saturday we put on a US Nordic Combined fundraiser at a family friends house. We had a great turnout and ended up raising almost $22,000! On Sunday I was entered in a bike sprint down main street during the Pro Challenge. I did pretty well. In the qualification round I had the second fastest time. Taylor had the third. Unfortunately we all got beaten in the quarter finals. All in all the trip was a great success and we had a lot of fun. It was the first time the team was in Aspen and everyone really wants to go back.
I returned to Park City for just one week before I headed to Steamboat for the Steamboat Springs Stage Race. It was a bike race I have wanted to do for the last couple years. I went a couple days early to train a little more. The week started off rough because of the weather but turned around. Saturday started with the time trial. I felt ok and did well for the first half, but lost a lot of time on the second half. I finished the day in 27th. The next day was the 60 mile road race. My legs were really tired from the day before and couldn't jump onto the break early on. However I was able to get in the chase group. I chased the leaders for almost 55 miles and then with 5 miles to go, I got a flat tire and fell off the chase group. I had a lot of trouble the last couple miles but I finished, so I would be able to race the following day. After day two I actually moved up the 23rd overall. On Monday, Labor Day, was the final stage which was a criterium in down town Steamboat. My legs today actually felt a lot better. I bike ok, and had a good sprint finish, starting from the back of the pack to 17th. After the three days of racing I finished 22nd overall but a long ways behind the leader. I plan on coming back next year and have some better luck.
Now I am back in Park City and we just started an intensity block. I have been feeling pretty good. Yesterday we had a competition on the HS140 and a time trial in Soldier Hollow. These were my first jumps on the HS140 since Springer Tournee, and although they were not WC caliber jumps, I was not disappointed. I am slowly making progress and not trying to overthink anything. I am going to be in Park City now until mid October when we head to Lake Placid, NY for U.S. Nordic Combined Nationals. Then from Lake Placid travel to Europe for two weeks before the season gets underway. I am sorry for not keeping you more up-to-date with my training and travels. I will try and be better from here on out. I hope everyone enjoyed their summer and are ready for the "white stuff" to start falling. I know I am!
P.S. I just added my Strava account to my blog page, right above the Twitter feed in the side bar. Thought it would be good to show you what I have been up to this summer!
Hey everybody! I just wanted to share an article about the U.S. Nordic combined team and what we are doing to raise money for this upcoming season. The article talks about a trip that the team will take to Aspen in August for a training camp and fundraiser. If you are in Aspen the 14-18 you can join the U.S. Nordic combined team on some great runs, bike rides, and at our fundraiser. Attached is the link for the article.
I can't believe that it is almost August! Time flies when you are having fun. I wanted to catch you up with my training since the 4th of July. After training and competing in Steamboat, I returned to Park City. My goal for the next month was to really focus on my jump training. I have definitely had some good days of jumping, but I need to step my level up and become more consistent. Over the weeks I have been working hard and although it has been frustrating, I am slowly making progress. This past week has been very busy. Monday marked the first day of the Springer Tournee camp. Springer Tournee is one of the biggest competitions of the summer. Ski jumpers and nordic combined skiers from all across the country have come to compete. Two days ago, the coaches organized a day where the national teams coach the younger athletes. Each national team athlete get 4-6 kids that they coach. I had a great group of young athletes and was really impressed by their hard work. In the morning I coached my kids on the HS68 and HS100. Even though I only had 5 athletes, I didn't really understand how hard of a job it is to coach. First you have to remember what color suits they are wearing so you don't send the wrong kid down the jump, as well as remembering every jump. This is important so that you can give each jumper feedback before they head back up to the top. Needless to say, it was really exciting to see the kids jump. In the afternoon, we took the kids to the gym for testing. We tested there agility, speed, vertical jump, and broad jumps. I was really happy with my group. Each athlete put 100% into every test and their results were phenomenal. I cannot wait to see the progress that each of the kids make in the next four years.
Now I am focusing on the competition this weekend. Saturday morning is a competition on the HS100 followed by a cross country race in the evening. Sunday is the U.S. ski jumping nationals on the HS136. There are a lot of good ski jumpers and nordic combiner's on the start list which will make for a great weekend!
It has been a while since my last update so let me get you caught up with what I have been up to. About three weeks ago, The U.S. Ski Team put on a bike race at the Sundance Ski Resort. It is called the Sundance Sufferfest and yes the name speaks for itself. It is only about 8 miles long but you gain almost 2,000 feet and it is one of the hardest time trials that I have done. I did pretty well and finished with the 6th fastest time. It is always a fun race to do with other ski team members and afterwards we all get to eat brunch at the Sundance Lodge.
After the Sundance Sufferfest, I drove to Steamboat Springs for the 4th of July competition we have every year. I started jumping pretty good in Steamboat and was making some good improvements. On July 2nd, we had the Fishcreek time trial and it went really well. I had the 3rd fastest time and this really boosted my confidence because I haven't been roller skiing very well the past couple weeks. On the 3rd, we had a jumping competition. I jumped ok, but had bad style and didn't get the result I was hoping for. Then on the 4th we used, the jump from the 3rd for the sprint race down main street. This is one of my favorite competitions because I get to ski in front of friends, family, and many people who have never seen the sport of nordic combined. I had a great race and skied up to 5th overall and had the 3rd fastest time. Following the race, we had one last jumping competition, this time a long standing. A long standing is an elimination competition where the top half of the field with the longest jumps without crashing, move on to the next round. I had a good first jump and made it to the second round. Unfortunately, my second jump wasn't good enough to make the 3rd round. All in all it was a great 4th of July competition and I had a lot of fun. After the competitions, they named the 2014-15 U.S. Nordic Combined Team. The "A" team is Taylor Fletcher and Bryan Fletcher, the "B" team is Brett Denney, Adam Loomis, Ben Berend, and myself. We also named a "C" team this year with upcoming athletes, Jasper Good, Aleck Gantick, and Nicholas Madden. We have a strong team this year and I am honored to be named with all these incredible athletes!
After the 4th of July, I went home to Aspen for a couple days to see friends and family. It was good to take a little break from training and regroup mentally. One of the nights for dinner, my family, several family friends and I went up to the Maroon Bells for a picnic dinner. It was just what I needed.
I was only in Aspen a couple days before I had to head back to Steamboat for another training camp. Jumping went well again and we did another nordic combined competition. I skied really well and finished 2nd with the 1st fastest time. I was really happy with this result and it boosted my confidence for the upcoming competition in Park City in a couple weeks. It was a successful camp, and I made some good improvements on the jump that I hope to take back to Park City.
I have only been back in Park City for three days and I have continued to train hard. Yesterday was my VO2 skate and double pole max test. I did really well on the skate test which I was really happy about. My double pole test didn't go very well, but I think I was just tired from the first test in the morning. I feel like I am in great form right now and hope to build on this as the summer continues.
I hope everyone is enjoying their summer and I will continue to post blogs in the upcoming weeks!
This week was a big week of training. I returned from Steamboat and Aspen and jumped right back into things here in Park City. Monday was my first day back on the HS100. It was really fun to be back on the jump hill. My first session actually went better than I expected which is always a confidence booster.
Wednesday, the team went on a 4.5 hour bike ride with an hour steady state up Big Cottonwood Canyon. It was one of the longest rides I have done this summer and it was a lot of fun. We rode from Park City, over Emigration Pass to Salt Lake City, then over to Big Cottonwood Canyon, up to Brighton and over Guardsman Pass, and then back down to Park City.
We had one more jump sessions on the HS100 and then on Friday we had an all hills competition. We jumped the HS20, HS40, and HS 68. I jumped really well on the really small hills but struggled on the HS68. I had a lot of fun and hope to improve before we do it again. Unfortunately, it was too windy to jump the HS100.
Saturday, the team went on another long 4.5 hour ride in the morning. We rode from Park City up and over Deer Valley to Heber, up the back side of Wolf Creek Ranch down into Kamas, up Browns Canyon, and back to Park City. Needless to say I am very tired after this big week of training.
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.