Decker Dean (Steamboat Springs, CO) a member of the men’s ski jumping team has just returned home from a long stint in Europe. Today we catch up with Dean to hear about his summer training, competition experience, and goals looking toward the 2020-21 season. Enjoy!
How many weeks were you in Europe this summer?
I was in Europe from July 15th- September 21st, so just over two months.
How was this year’s trip to Europe different from years in the past?
The biggest difference for myself was starting to jump in the middle of July rather than the end of May due to Covid and Injury. It was a long break but all of us were really motivated to get back on the hill.
Where did you feel the level of the team was upon arrival? Where is the level of the team at now?
We were all in different places physically and on the hill during July but by the end of the trip the level all around was noticeably higher.
What did you do differently with your training this season? On your own or encouraged by coaches.
For me, physical training with our new physical coaches Matjaz Polak and Urban Jarc was the biggest difference and it showed on the hill. The training sessions were intense and the structure was great.
Which hills did you jump the most while in Europe? What other teams were on the hill with you?
We were in Planica and Kranj mostly training with the Slovenian teams and every once in a while the German B or Austrian B teams would be with us as well. We also did a camp in Bischofshofen, Austria and a camp in Zakopane, Poland.
What’s it like jumping with some of the elite Slovenian jumpers? Does that help you understand where the level is at?
Jumping with high level ski jumpers is definitely important for a lot of reasons. For me personally, it’s good to see where Timi and Peter are compared to me and what they are doing. I learn from that. It also adds a competitive aspect to training and pushes all of us to get better.
Tell me about competing in the Wisla Summer Grand Prix. How different was it competing internationally under Covid protocols?
Wisla was a great start to the season! They really did a good job putting the event on and keeping all of us safe and healthy. The big difference was wearing a mask up to the top and wearing a mask after the jump. Other than that everything was pretty normal and I think all the athletes were satisfied with everything.
Did you feel safe competing in Wisla?
I personally felt safe and felt like the environment was great given the circumstances. They were able to host some fans but they were far from the athletes.
What was your biggest takeaway from the SGP in Wisla?
My biggest takeaway from the SGP was that my jumps are really close to being on a high level along with my teammates. Competing at that level and coming within 7 points of the top 30 was a huge confidence boost for me. Just need to keep working and it will start to come together.
You decided to stay in Europe longer in order to compete in the Wisla COC. Tell me about that decision.
I decided to stay for the COC because I saw another chance to compete on a high level and see where my level is currently. I knew for my training and competition mindset it was the best decision to stay.
How did the Wisla COC go? What were your key takeaways?
I wasn’t exactly satisfied with my results in Wisla by any means. I was really excited and anxious to show what I could do and ended up having two jumps that I wasn’t happy with at all, ending 33rd and 34th place just 2-3 points outside the top 30. All I can do is move on and keep working but it’s good to see that bad jumps are still contending and putting me in the fight.
What was the biggest challenge you faced during this summer’s training so far?
The biggest challenge was switching to new equipment due to some rule changes. Overall I was satisfied and didn’t notice much after a few training sessions with the changed equipment.
What has been or was your biggest highlight of this summer’s training?
I really enjoyed our camp in Zakopane prior to the COC in Wisla. I love that hill and was able to have some far jumps!
Now that you’re back home in Steamboat, what kind of things are you enjoying?
I am now coaching alongside Karl Denney and training. I will also be riding my MTB bike and skateboarding a bunch! It’s nice coming home to a healthy town and seeing that everyone is taking the Covid situation seriously.
What’s your plan for the rest of the fall?
I will be in Steamboat Springs, CO until October 18th. I’ll then head back over to Europe for what should be an awesome ice track camp in Oberstdorf.
What are your key goals for the winter season?
I have a lot of goals for the winter but mainly I just want to make progress every weekend and show what myself and my teammates can do at a high level.