October 3rd, 2011
Just finished up an action packed weekend here in Chicago for the 2012 US National Nordic Combined Championships. Yep, Chicago. Betcha ya did not know there was a jump here but there is and it is one of the oldest ski clubs in the country! The Norge Ski Club of Fox River Grove, Il was founded in 1904 and has been hosting some very popular ski jumping events ever since. But only once before has Norge hosted the national championships so it was pretty exciting to see it come back.
Ever since we switched our nationals to fall it has become a more serious competition as it is the first test heading into winter for all the new found form instead of an april after-thought. It has also opened the door for us to put the event in some places that could not typically host a spring tourney. Norge proved to be a great host club and saturday was a really successful event. We kicked off with the small hill jumping championships and with over 75 competitors it took some time to get through 3 rounds. During which hundreds of people came to partake in the festival atmosphere around the base of the ski jump. Though not the crowds of 5k+ they command in the winter it was pretty good for football season!
Bryan Fletcher really showed his strength on the jumphill outdistancing Johnny Spillane and I by enough to get a 30 sec head start for the XC race. And though I was sure we could catch him in the challenging 10km, which wound relentlessly up and over the back of the jumping hill, he managed to increase his lead by 10 sec over the first 5km. So with half the race over and nearly a 40sec advantage I thought Bryan would take the title easily but Johnny and I were able to pick it up enough as Bryan faded to make contact with just a km remaining. From there we all backed off a bit to try and recover for a move and in the end it was a 3 way dash for the last 200m. I managed to edge out Johnny at the line! Its a good motivation for the beggining of the last prep phase to know you are close to where you want to be. What was really great about the weekend was seeing the strength of our up and coming junior squad. Alec Gantic of Steamboat jumped to 2nd place in Nordic Combined and 17 year old Eric Lynch had a great jump and a fast race managing to outsprint Taylor Fletcher to take 5th place right behind Todd.
In any case a former Nordic Combined Development athlete Dan Englund has put together a really neat video of the weekend. His companyAerial Vantage Productions gets some really unique shots using a remote control helicopter to to follow jumpers through the air and skiers on the course. Enjoy!