Athlete update- Michael Ward

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As I am writing this, I am on the deck of my hotel room in Seefeld, Austria surrounded by blue skies, warm weather, and beautiful mountains. The weather could not be any better.

Last weekend we traveled to beautiful Planica, Slovenia for our second COC. Planica is mainly known for its end of the season competition on the massive ski flying hill, but this past summer they rebuilt the K95 and K125 hills with hope to turn Planica into a haven for nordic combined and ski jumpers. We showed up to Kranska Gora, where we were staying, last Tuesday. It is small ski town on the Italian boarder surrounded by towering mountains. Our plan was to jump on the new hills and get some cross country training in, however it ended up snowing 3-4 feet. Since there was limited cross country skiing and no jumping we drove to Kranj, Slovenia, just 40 minutes away, to squeeze in a good jump session. Coincidentally, the U.S. Women’s ski jumping team was training in Kranj. We had a great session and it was nice to jump with some familiar faces.

Friday was official training on Planica’s K125 meter hill. All the teams were excited to test out the new jump and to see how it was flying. Team U.S.A. had some good jumps and we felt confident that we could turn in some good results. Saturday was the first competition day and we did not jump to our expectations. Nick, Adam, and I started the cross country race over two minutes behind the leader. However we all skied blistering 4th,5th, and 7th fastest times during the race and all finished with COC points. This was not the result I was looking for but thought it was the start of something good. Sunday was a bust. We all had trouble on the jump hill and just couldn’t ski fast enough to get into points. Unsatisfied with our results, we know that we need to turn our jumping around. The past is the past and we now need to move forward. I have a feeling good results are just around the corner.

We now have the next week off from competitions and have decided to stay in Europe to get in extra training sessions on the jump hill. Yesterday we arrived in Seefeld and went for an easy cross country “tour.”  We started the ski hoping to find some new new cross country trails but ended up at the top of a little alpine hill. Soon enough the afternoon turned into a fun day of shredding up slopes with our cross country gear. It was the perfect way to start the week.

This trip has been amazing and would not have been possible without all of our NNF supporters! I can’t thank you enough for giving us the opportunity to chase our dreams and follow in the footsteps of our idols! We are so fortunate to have such a great community behind us!

Michael Ward

U.S. Nordic Combined Team

 

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