The World Cup is HARD. That was one of my many takeaways from last weekend in Schonach, Germany. It was a great experience and I'm grateful for the opportunity to compete against the best in the world. They may not know it but I learned a lot from Bryan and Taylor just being around them, skiing with them, and seeing how they handle different things. They great role models and give me an example of how to be extremely successful on the top level of the sport.
To compete in the World Cup athletes have to jump into the top 50 in the provisional jump on friday. I had a solid jump and ended up in 37th, qualifying me for the individual event on sunday.
Saturday was a 4x5 team event. All four athletes jump for each nation then ski a 5km leg before tagging off to their next teammate. Team USA had solid jumps but definitely not our best. Taylor Fletcher had the strongest jump for our team. After the jumping we were in 7th place and starting 1:16 seconds behind the leaders. The order we chose for skiing was Bryan, myself, Adam, then Taylor anchoring the final leg. The idea for this was for Bryan to ski up to the Czech team, me to hang with them, then Adam and Taylor to try to move up even further. A downpour of rain began after the jumping and showed no sign of letting up. Bryan skied a really fast leg and did his job and tagging off to me in 8th place right with the Italian and Czech teams. Unfortunately I was not able to hang with either team. Skiing the second lap for the Italian team was Olympic bronze medalist Allesandro Pittin. I hung with him for a few minutes and thought I could hold on for at least a lap, then he took off and left me in his dust. I tagged off to Adam still in 8th place but with considerable time margins to the teams in front of us. Adam and Taylor skied awesome races and we finished up in 7th place right where we started. If I could have hung with the guys skiing my leg better then we could have been in an even better position. Next time I will do better. After the race we were all soaked and had pretty much run out of dry clothes. The area in between our cabins and the race course had turned into a massive puddle. Running back to our cabin after my race I was falling into the puddles almost up to my knees. It was quite the experience and I now believe any race condition will seem balmy in comparison. The rest of the day was spent doing anything possible to dry our clothes. I was blasting my clothes with a hair drying in desperation.
On sunday we woke up to a beautiful day and mostly dry clothes. I had my best jump of the weekend in the competition which I was pretty psyched about. My 95 meter jump was good enough for 28th place and 1:16 back in the race. I think it's insane how competitive the World Cup is. In the Continental Cup I can jump into the top 20 with average jumps but a good jump here was 28th! Not only that but the start times are way tighter on the World Cup. This makes for way closer races and if your not on top of your game you will get blown right out the back. The first lap felt like I was in a Nascar race driving a prius. Athletes were just flying past me and there was nothing I could do about it. By the second lap I was all alone towards the back and thought I was having a terrible race. On the third lap I started to see athletes blowing out the back towards me and realized I wasn't all alone at the back. Overall it wasn't a terrible race but I need to really improve my skiing in order to hang in the top 30. Bryan skied up from 33rd place to 9th and Taylor went from 49th to 24th! I finished up in 46th place, first World Cup weekend in the books. It was pretty incredible to see Bryan and Taylor skiing up so far and posting the 2nd and 3rd fastest times. I'm excited to keep learning from them and hope to follow in their footsteps.
On monday morning my coach Martin Bayer and I woke up at 3:45 am and drove to Kiel, Germany. We then hopped on a boat over to Norway where we picked up Jasper Good, Colin Delaney, and Michael Ward. From Oslo we drove to Hoydalsmo, Norway where we will be competing in Continental Cups this weekend.
Thanks to everyone who make it possible for US Nordic Combined and myself to chase our dream of being the best in the world. It's truly a blessing.