Flying Eagles Ski Club/Park City Ski & Snowboard Club
Eau Claire, WI/Park City, UT
Aiming for Gold
In my first year of coaching at Park City Ski & Snowboard, I had one athlete who stood out from the rest in many ways. Having recently moved from Miami, he was in his late twenties and had never been off a ski jump. This didn’t deter him from signing up for our full “comp team” program with ambitions as high as any of the young athletes he’d be training with. I remember goal setting at the beginning of the summer, and his goals including: make the Olympics, win a gold medal while he was there, and (why not?) earn a Red Bull sponsorship.
In short order, this athlete demonstrated athleticism and quickly was able to progress through the small hills and up to our K64. At the same time as he caught his first feelings of flight, he also learned the reality of ski jumping – it’s no easy trick. If not as quickly for him as for me, at some point I believe his “rocket-to-the-top” mentality may have slightly diminished.
Having been in this world for more than 20 years, I know that despite our small numbers, the talent at the top of the sports of ski jumping and Nordic combined is nothing short of world class. This is one thing all sports have in common – the very best are phenomenal at what they do, and it’s no easy road to get there.
Despite this, in just a few months of ski jumping we agreed that he was ready for a ride on Park City’s K120. Of course, I would never have sent a young athlete with matching abilities and experience up to even the 90 – but I knew that joining the ranks was an Olympic sized dream for him. And he was safe, sound and surely full of adrenaline at the end of his ride.
Perhaps having peaked, his ski jumping career came to an end as the summer passed. Was greatness achieved, from the perspective of a ski jumper? Surely not. But, for the other 99%, he joined the ranks of a ski jumper, a feat and an elite club in itself.