Welcome to “17 Questions for 2017″, where we are catching up with American and Canadian national-team members before the beginning of the winter season.
Steamboat Springs, Colorado, native Ben Berend is just 21 years old, but he already has a senior World Championships under his belt and has competed in more than a dozen World Cup nordic combined events.
Berend spent part of the summer racing on the Grand Prix circuit in Germany and Austria and will return to the World Cup this winter.
1. Biggest change in your life in the last five or so months since the ski season ended?
I’ve never been named to the World Cup Team to begin the season so that is new. I recently became a godfather! I don’t know what that title entails but if you are reading this Bryan Fletcher, I’m ready for anything. Also this summer I met a girl I really like, that has been a lot of fun!
2. Biggest change in your training?
Less biking! Most years I’ve spent a majority of the spring on the bike. This year I hardly touched my bikes. I have made rollerskiing and double poling a huge priority.
3. Major areas of improvement you’ve seen so far?
Can I say everything? Usually in Nordic combined when the cross country skiing improves the jumping can take a dip or vice versa. However, this summer I feel I have drastically improved in both disciplines. I’m currently having the best jumps of my life as well as posting personal bests in time trials.
4. Whom you’ve been working closest with this offseason (coaches or training partners)?
I probably train the most with Taylor Fletcher since we live together. Also this season we hired an Austrian jump coach (Nik Huber). I’ve been trying to absorb as much of his knowledge as possible.
5. Best trip in the last five months (and why)?
At the end of August I went to Jackson Hole, Wyoming with my girlfriend and her parents. We did some day trips rafting down the Snake River. Total blast. Somehow in my 21 years of living in Colorado and Utah, I have never been to Wyoming. I’ve spent so much time traveling around Europe but hardly any time traveling within the US. I hope to change that.
6. Favorite cross-training?
Mountain biking! Especially in Moab. That’s my happy place. Also I spend every spring trying to become proficient at telemark skiing.
7. Favorite non-athletic activity or pastime this summer?
I’m simple. I’m so content with a good book in my hands. Paperback not kindle! Although traveling so much has sadly forced me to own a kindle.
8. Song that was your jam this summer?
Norgaard – The Vaccines
Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked – Cage the Elephant
9. All time favorite race moment?
As a kid, my favorite aspect of skiing was getting to stand on the podium. I couldn’t touch a podium with a 10 foot pole these last couple years. Getting third place at US Nationals this summer was really special. Also competing in my first ever World Championship Event in Falun was amazing. There was a tunnel under the bleachers that lead the athletes into the stadium. Under the tunnel, it was silent. The sound my boots clacking against the hard surface seemed deafening. As I neared the end of the tunnel, the sound of my boots disappeared. It was replaced by this subtle roar. I exited the tunnel and was frozen. There were thousands of people packed into the stands screaming and waving flags. It was such an unreal feeling and I will keep that memory with me forever.
10. First thing you pack in your bag when you leave for Europe?
Passport. I’m a very forgetful person and I have this longstanding fear of losing/forgetting my passport.
11. Venue/event you’re most excited to visit this season?
World Championships in Lahti. Apparently they have already sold 60,000 tickets. Nothing beats a championship event. Also I’m looking forward to the Seefeld Triple because it starts with a 5k event, which suits my jumping abilities.
12. Who will win the World Cup title this year?
At this point it is pretty hard to bet against Eric Frenzel. I’m low key rooting for Jarl Riiber from Norway. I’m not sure if someone still young enough to compete in Junior Worlds has ever won a World Cup Overall. If anyone is going to do it, it’s him.
13. Biggest sacrifice you feel you’ve made choosing this career path?
Sometimes I feel like I’m missing out on the social aspects of being a kid my age. It can definitely be hard relating to people who aren’t pursuing similar things. It can be a little isolating at times. This career allows me to have a lifestyle that suits me well so I have zero regrets.
14. If you could change one thing about your sport, what would it be?
We want women! It’s frustrating that women don’t have the opportunity to compete in Nordic Combined. I have no idea how this didn’t happen sooner but I’m glad FIS is making it a big focus. Also I wish we could find a way to get some World Cups in the United States. We are constantly competing on other people’s home turf.
15. What did you have for breakfast this morning?
Oatmeal with almond milk, a banana, peanut butter, jam, and sunflower seeds.
16. In 5 years, I’ll be ____?
Doing something I love at a high level. Hopefully skiing.
17. In 50 years, I’ll be ____?