Here is the summary of the recent training trip to Europe for some top U.S. NC Juniors.
First, let me explain why we recommend a trip to Europe in the summer. There are several important reasons:
The majority of the World Cup and Continental Cup (COC) events are held in Europe. It is important for aspiring WC & COC athletes to travel in Europe, to experience the time changes, different languages, foods, cultures, climates and lower altitudes. Air pressure at lower altitudes is more prevalent than at high altitudes. The athletes need to experience ski jumping at lower altitudes to learn to adjust their flying techniques to more air pressure. If they don’t learn this, they will be at a disadvantage when they compete in competitions in Europe. With more air pressure, jumpers use less in-run speeds, so it is also critical that jumpers learn to jump with less in-run speeds. Also, it is important to jump on many different ski jumps and learn to adapt jumping techniques at each ski jump. Ski jumps are all different with the steepness of the in-run, the radius into the takeoff, height over the knoll, pitch of the landing radius of the landing, and the like. It is critical to learn to adapt ski jumping style to all types of jumps. We jumped on 5 different ski jumps during the trip.
After arriving in Munich, GER on Wednesday, Aug 4, we started the trip in Zakopane, POL. The drive that should have taken around 8 ½ hrs, ended up being over 10 hours. We arrived at the Tedeaus Lodge after 9pm and devoured a pile of crepes before collapsing into bed. The lodge was small with 19 rooms and it was packed with 50+ raucous ski jumpers.
The next morning we went to the Sports Centrum near the ski jump complex to work out the kinks of traveling. I took the boys on a run. In the afternoon, we had our first ski jumping session on the K85 meter. Each athlete has areas to work on to improve their technique. The ski jump is accessed by a lift and the guys got in 7-8 jumps each. After jumping, we headed back to the lodge to view videos and get ready for the next day.
As the week progressed, the jetlag faded and the boys settled into a productive working routine. There were other teams training as well including some athletes from Norway, Russia & Slovenia. The level of the jumping was high so it was good for our guys to train with other good ski jumping talent.
Sunday morning, Aug 8th, the boys did a roller ski interval workout. We found a narrow, winding road with a gradual uphill that appeared to be sparsely traveled, except we forgot to factor in the church commuters. We still managed to get in a solid workout. Sunday afternoon was off, so the boys were free to get in some downtime after lunch then peruse Zakopane if they wanted.
Monday, Aug 9th, we drove to Strpke Pleso, SVK for a double jump session on the K90, the 3rd jump hill in a week. The drive was about 1hours each way. The jumping went well and it was a good plan to practice there. We were the only team training that day. So, the guys got in some quality jumps, about 14-15 on the day. In the last round, we had a one round competition, distance only. It was fun as there was a 3 way tie for the long ride of 95 meters between Cliff, Erik & Chanon, but each athlete was over 90 meters!
Tuesday, Aug 10th, was our final jump session on the K120 in Zakopane. The boys got in over 45 jumps on the week! We did a roller ski/run combo in the afternoon combined with some core strength then packed up for our next trek. We really felt our stint in Zakopane was very productive, priced right at only 20 Euros a day for room & board, and as economical as it gets.
Wednesday, Aug 11th, we drove to Kranj, SLO. The drive time was around 8.5 hours. We checked in then headed to the local school to use their sports field for a little recreation and loosen up after the long day in the vans.
Thursday, Aug 11th, the boys trained on the 4th different jump, once again, trying to adjust to a new facility. This is similar to what they will experience on the WC or COC circuits, having to adjust to new and different ski jumps on a regular basis. After taking 7-8 more jumps with athletes from other teams, we headed to a cross country complex about an hour’s drive away and about 1,500 feet higher in elevation. The cross country facility has about 2km of paved trails over rolling terrain and the road in is over 7km also rolling but mostly uphill. It was a great place to roller ski with light traffic and athletes from other teams. On the way back, we stopped to jump in the glacier fed waters of Lake Bled.
Friday, Aug 12th, was a repeat with a jump session in the morning and a roller ski in the afternoon, most of which was in the rain. While the boys were soggy, they are worked hard thru the wet conditions and the day was still productive.
Saturday, Aug 13th, was another morning jump session followed by a steady state cross country workout. By Saturday afternoon, we could tell the guys were ready for a break from jumping.
Sunday, Aug 14th, we did an interval workout and the afternoon was “off”. I took the crew to Bohinj, a national park with another glacier fed lake above Lake Bled.
Monday, Aug 15th, we headed to Villach, AUT, about an hour’s drive away for a double jump session (the 5th hill we trained on).At the jump complex in Villach, there were teams from Hungary, Turkey, and a few local kids from the local club. The ski jump is a K90, a high flier and it was another good jump for training.
Tuesday, Aug 16th, was our final morning of jumping back on the jump in Kranj. We were joined by the Russian Nordic Combined A & B teams. It was the most chaotic day on the jump with so many athletes there, but that is how is will be on the competition circuit, so we felt it was one of the best “reality” days of training. After jumping, we headed to the hotel, packed up, had lunch and were on the road by 1pm commuting to the Movenpick Hotel by the airport in Munich.
I feel like this trip was very successful & productive. Each athlete improved and gained valuable experience as they continue to pursue their quest to compete on the COC in December and the World junior championships in January.
Martin Bayer & Kerry Lynch, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club
Cliff Field, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club
Erik Lynch, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club
Michael Ward, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club
Aleck Gantick, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club
Adam Loomis, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club
Jake Barker, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club
Tyler Smith, Park City Nordic Ski Club
Chanon Pretorius, Canada