In the last week I have competed in two Summer Grand Prix's. One in Oberwiesenthal, Germany and another in Villach, Austria. In order to compete in Oberwiesenthal I had to jump into the top 50 in the Provisional Round. I jumped into 31st place qualifying me to compete last Saturday. On Saturday I had a pretty good jump but started in 37th place! This showed me how high the level of competition is at the World Cup level. On the Continental Cup (World Cup B) a jump like that would have started me in the top 20 for sure. The race didn't go as well as I was hoping. I was desperately trying to hang onto people but just couldn't hang with anyone long enough to move up the standings. After being stuck at the back with nobody to ski with, I got lapped by the leaders and my day was over. I was extremely disappointed because last years Grand Prix ended the same way. Luckily, 3 days later I had a chance to redeem myself Villach. Bryan Fletcher, Taylor Fletcher, and Bill Demong were also competing in this next Grand Prix. there was no qualification. That was lucky for me because I got disqualified in the Provisional Round on Tuesday. My suit was too large so after some adjustments were made to it, I was ready to compete on Wednesday. I had a jump of 88 meters on the 90 meter hill. This was another very solid jump and started me in 31st position out of 70 competitors. I was determined to hang on in the race. My skate skiing has made a lot of improvements over the summer and I knew I could compete at this level. The race went a lot better. I ended up skiing back to 56th place. I know that doesn't sound great but It's improvement. I finished under 3 minutes behind the winner and my cross country time was only a minute or two slower than some of the best Nordic Combined Skiers in the world. I gained a lot of experience in this competition and look forward to improving upon these results this winter. With only a couple days left in Europe the trip is almost over. My team is now residing in Planica, Slovenia with members of the VIP Trip. The members of the VIP Trip traveled to Slovenia in order to enjoy the beautiful scenery and watch my team compete and train. The last few days will be spent roller skiing and running on the amazing terrain offered in Planica. The 50 km bike path into Italy is my new favorite roller ski. Thank you to the NNF and everyone else making this amazing trip possible- Ben Berend
The second week of our trip has been great. My team and I got great training on the K120 and K90 in Oberstdorf while also utilizing the gym and roller ski course. Thursday was our first competition while being over here and I had some mixed results. I had been jumping well all week but failed to put solid jumps together in the competition. With jumps of 120 meters and 116.5 meters, I was still in the hunt during the race. The first race at low altitude is always a bit interesting. At this low altitude my body can go quicker and harder than in Steamboat. Sometimes it takes a little while to understand and get used to that. I was actually very happy with my race finishing the course in about 28 minutes. This was another solid race for me but once again I need to translate my training jumps over to my comp jumps to get the results I'm looking for. After the competition we drove 6 hours to Liberec, Czech Republic. Liberec is a great place and I have spent about 40 days here over the last couple years. Being back here brings great memories of the World Junior Championships last winter where I put up some of my better results. Friday was spent recovering from the race on thursday. We hit up the sauna and cold tub in order to get our bodies back to full speed and prepare for Saturday. Saturday was a brutal double interval day. In the morning I did 6X4 intervals on roller ski which was followed in the afternoon by a track workout. For the track workout I did 6x400 meter sprints at about 95 percent speed with a couple minute break in between each sprint. The point of the workout is to consistently put up the same time even with the fatigue and lactic acid building up. I was able to do that running every 400 in under 1 minute and 10 seconds. It was a grueling day and my team and I are using today to just relax and recover. Tomorrow we will depart from Liberec and head to Klingenthal, Germany. In Klingenthal we will be jumping the notoriously fun and big K120 jump. My team and I will also be preparing for a Summer Grand Prix in Oberweisenthal, Germany which begins on Saturday. I'll keep you updated on how the Grand Prix goes! Thanks to the NNF and everyone else who supports me- Ben Berend
The last week has gone by fast and we are now onto our second European destination of Oberstdorf, Germany. After a US Jumping Nationals that left a lot to be desired, my team and I traveled to Ramsau, Austria. In Ramsau we were jumping a K90 and getting lots of good training on the various terrain in the area. I made a lot of improvements on my jumping and am now jumping at the level I know I can. The running trails are insane in Ramsau! My team and I took full advantage of these trails and got many good runs in before it was time to leave. Also on Saturday we took a day trip to Bischofshofen, Austria which was just 30 minutes away. The jump in Bischofshofen is a K125 and one of the bigger hills I've ever jumped. The day was a ton of fun and I set my new pr (furthest ever jump) at 133 meters. The feeling of flying through the air for that long is irreplaceable. For the next week we will be training in Oberstdorf with the Czech Ski Team and will have a friendly competition on Thursday. Thanks for all the support!
Since my last blog post my team and I have been getting lots of good training in Steamboat. Over the last couple weeks we have done two running time trials up the Hot Springs Road and another Fish Creek Time Trial on roller skis. I have become pretty confident in my fitness because I have felt good in every race. My time in our first running time trial was around 17 minutes and 50 seconds. A week later I was able to run it 20 seconds faster in 17 minutes and 30 seconds. This is important because I believe running fitness translates over to skiing fitness very well. This week we had our third Fish Creek Time Trial of the summer on roller skis. As I blogged about before, my times were 28 minutes and 30 seconds and 28 minutes and 31 seconds. I felt very good out of the start and definitely got into a good rhythm. Unfortunately I broke a pole and had to ski with one arm for about five minutes. Eventually my coach got me some new poles. By that time, my teammate Tyler Smith had caught me and I was able to hold onto him till he broke away right at the end. I was very happy with this considering Tyler had some of the faster times at World Junior Championships last season. I ended up with a time of 28 minutes and 34 seconds. Without the broken pole I know I could have broken into the 27 minute range which would have been a new personal best. Also congrats to my teammates Aleck Gantick and Tyler Smith who both had great races and finished in the 27 minute range. Tomorrow we leave for Park City to compete in US Nationals for Ski Jumping. This should be very exciting and it's a good way to see how us Nordic Combine athletes stack up against the countries best Ski Jumpers. Then on Monday we fly out of Salt Lake and head to Europe for a month. We will be training as well as competing while we're there. Ill update my blog as the trip progresses. Thanks to everyone for the support!