As a Nordic Combined skier coming of age in the late 1990’s, I did not spend much time in Central. During those years, very few Nordic Combined skiers were from the Midwest, and the National and International competitions were primarily in Colorado, Utah, and the Northeast. This made my trip to the Midwest last week that much more fun because I was finally able to visit clubs and jumps that I had heard about for so long, like Westby, Norge, and Iron Mountain just to name a few. The purpose of this most recent trip was coach and parent education and based on the feedback I have received, I think it was a huge success!
The trip was a bit of a whirlwind with five clinics, and eight jumping hills/clubs visited in seven days. These included Blackhawk, Westby, the Flying Eagles of Eau Claire, Minneapolis Ski Club, the Mt. Itasca Winter Sports Center in Coleraine, Cloquet, Copper Peak, Suicide Bowl in Ishpeming, Iron Mountain, and finally the Norge Ski Club in Chicago. Over 50 parents and coaches attended these clinics and many junior athletes were also present to apply some of the material that we covered. As a result of the trip we have over 15 coaches who are working towards becoming certified as Level 100 Ski Jumping coaches, and the first of USA Nordic’s Tech Tips was a hit.
It was energizing to see so many young athletes involved in the sport, new parents thirsting for knowledge and resources, and clubs with new plastic on junior hills and plans for further upgrades. I truly believe our sport is in a revitalization period, and it is incumbent upon us at USA Nordic to provide the resources parents and coaches are seeking and help clubs grow. It is also clear that one thing our country is lacking are higher level coaches with deep knowledge of the sport and experience jumping on larger hills, and this is certainly a high priority item four our organization. Our junior level coaches are doing a fantastic job, but in order for our sport to retain young athletes, we need more coaches at the upper levels.
All and all I came away feeling like we are headed in the right direction and there are so many amazing individuals helping move our sport forward. Thank you to everyone who participated and all the families who put me up and fed me. I look forward to working with you all, and now off to the Northeast for another tour!
By: Jed Hinkley
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