We can’t imagine anything much more exciting than making an event like World Championships for the first time, so we contacted the North American skiers living that exact dream this year.
Instead of interrogating them with the usual “tell us how you’re feeling,” we decided to pose the following 10 questions to each of the North Americans headed to their first World Championships from Feb. 18-March 1 in Falun, Sweden.
Exactly two weeks ago, U.S. Nordic Combined named five skiers to its 2015 World Championships team to compete in a total of four events (two individual, two team) in Falun. While three of the members were experienced veterans (Billy Demong, Bryan and Taylor Fletcher), two are newcomers to the World Championships stage: Adam Loomis and Ben Berend.
Loomis, 22, of Steamboat Springs, Colo., has been competing at the World Cup level since 2013, notching his career-best individual result of 21st in the large hill/10-kilometer World Cup on Jan. 10 in Chaux-Neuve, France. In December, he placed fifth with the World Cup men’s relay (with Demong and the Fletcher brothers) in Ramsau, Austria.
Last week, he emailed FasterSkier while training in Ramsau with the Continental Cup team, Taylor Fletcher and fellow U.S. B-team member Berend.
“The three of us have been over in Europe since the end of December,” Loomis explained. “Taylor and I chose to stay over after our last World Cup in Val de Fiemme, Italy to do a precamp in Slovenia and here in Ramsau. Ben just returned from World Junior Championship and came straight to Ramsau with the rest of the World Junior Team.”
At World Championships, Loomis is especially looking forward to the four-man team event.
“We’ll likely be one of the fastest teams on the race course and have a real podium shot if everything comes together right,” he told the National Nordic Foundation. “On the individual side, I’m not putting too much pressure on myself, but I know a top-20 is well within reach on any day.
“This has been my first year of competing consistently on the World Cup, and I’ve been able to break through with three top 30’s so far,” Loomis continued. “This has been a big step up for me, especially in comparison to the last couple years, where I haven’t reached all of my performance goals. Although I still have a long way to go, I’m proving to be an example of how work ethic and persistence eventually pays off. When I first made the Ski Team in 2012, I fully bought into our training system and am really starting to see the rewards now, especially on the cross country side.”
1. What was the first thing you did when you found out you were named to the World Championships team?
“Based on World Cup points, I already knew that I was qualified for the team before the official naming. Getting World Cup points in January was a big step in making the team and very satisfying to know I would be heading to Falun. That said, I felt extremely honored when I saw read the official team announcement last week.”
2. What’s been the biggest performance of your career so far? What one race stands out the most and why?
“My 21st finish at the World Cup in Chaux-Neuve, France was definitely my biggest result on the international stage. Another competition that stands out for me was US Nationals this fall, where I came in third. That was my first podium at a large competition since Junior Nationals, and a sign of a good winter to come.”
3. What are you most looking forward to at World Championships?
“I only competed in one World Junior Championship, but I remember being really psyched to be there representing the US. I think it will be the same for Falun; I’ll be honored to be skiing on behalf of the US.”
4. What’s your biggest motivation while competing?
“When I compete, I’m motivated to perform at the level that I know I’m capable of and then to keep improving every day. In Nordic Combined it’s pretty difficult to have a perfect day, and I’m always motivated to try to do better than the last time. Additionally, as a part of USA Nordic Combined, I feel like I have something to prove. The US Ski Team cut a large portion of our funding this year and included lack of future medal potential as one of their reasons. I’d like to show them otherwise.”
5. Which event(s) do you hope or plan to compete in?
“In Falun I hope to compete in one or both of the individual events and the 4-man team event. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity for the team event. We’re one of the fastest teams on the XC side, and we will be in the fight for the podium if we just jump to our potential.”
6. If you could race the team sprint with anyone in the world, who would it be?
“I believe Joergan Grabaak (Norway) has won all of the last two-man sprints for the last year, so he’d be hard to pass up. Then again, if Taylor is jumping well, he’d be a sure bet. Taylor skied over a minute faster than the next fastest guy at the 2013 World Championship in this race.”
7. Which world cup skier would you least like to meet in a dark alley (or the final 100 meters of a race)?
“Probably Fabian Riessle (Germany). Judging from the ferocity that he sprints with, and his reputation to take out anyone on the way to the line, I wouldn’t want to get in a tight spot with him. Neither would his teammate Johannes Rydzek — who Riessle crashed out of a medal shot in the final 200 meters in Sochi.”
8. What will be your key to success in Falun?
“I think my success in Falun will be determined by how I perform on the jump hill. I’ve been racing really well and pretty consistently this year. Although my jumping is better than ever, I still need to be a bit more consistent and continue to raise my average level. Fortunately, I’ve had some good training in the last two weeks and feel confident going in.”
9. Finish this sentence: If I made the podium at World Champs __________.
“… I would be too pumped up to sleep for at least two nights. And then I would hope to finally get a legit head sponsor.”
10. Name a person who’s had a major influence on your skiing career.
“I always have to go with Billy Demong here. From the first junior National camp that he organized when I was 15, he’s shared what it takes to reach the top. Even more importantly, a he demonstrates a belief in myself and others to get their. Over they years, I’ve watched hime become a World Champion and ski to an Olympic Gold. I competed in my first World Cup with him in a team sprint, and now will be skiing alongside him in Falun. Over this turbulent last year, Bill has been our leading ambassador in forming our own USA Nordic Combined Team and seeking funding outside of the US Ski Team.”