The Junior Nationals Nordic combined team sprint competition is truly a spectacle. The courses are always short, which allows for maximum drag-race style racing. No matter the result, it’s always a ton of fun to participate in. In my last Junior Nationals race ever, I was paired up with the exciting new rookie of our team, Charlie, in the team sprint. After a pretty abysmal jumping round, our start time was a solid several minutes behind the leaders. However, that had the extra effect of removing all pressure and expectations for the race. I was really excited to just get out and ski fast one last time, and I really wanted to show Charlie the ropes of team sprinting.
Charlie was our designated starter, and I was taking the anchor leg, so I stayed warm and skied around while Charlie skied his first lap. Before the race had even started, Charlie had warned me about his ankle hurting, and I pretty much told him to ski it off. However, my advice didn’t hold up too much, as Charlie’s ankle ended up sidelining him after his first lap. As I was tagged off, I was pretty positive that I would only get one lap to ski, because Charlie was looking pretty beat up. One lactic acid-filled lap later, I was coming into the tag zone. I looked up and saw someone in Team AK spandex waiting for me. As I got closer, I realized I had a new teammate- Carter Brubaker, who, despite racing the exact same race several minutes prior(and winning Team AK a bronze medal with Skyler Amy), had decided to take Charlie’s race bib to let me finish my race.
As my retirement from ski jumping and Nordic combined seemed to grow closer with every race, this moment gave me the confidence that my teammates would be alright when I was gone. As long as I’ve skied, Team Alaska has had a total underdog vibe. However, thanks to the excellent coaching and role modeling by Zak Hammill, Natasha Mattoon, Adam Loomis, and Chris Lamb, not to mention the amazing team culture cultivated by the dedicated parents and volunteers, our team is not only growing larger and becoming more competitive, but also stays positive and supportive no matter the circumstances. I’m not exceptionally proud of my result that day, but that one result doesn’t reflect what I’m most proud of from that day- the effects of a supportive team culture that lifts everybody in Alaska up. I can’t wait to see what heat the young guns will bring in the future.
IS IT SJ or NC? IT DOESN’T MATTER! WE’RE ALL ON THE SAME TEAM
ALL FUNDS, WHETHER DONATED THROUGH THE NORDIC COMBINED OR THE SKI JUMPING LINK, WILL GO TO THE DEVELOPMENT AND TOP TEAMS OF BOTH PROGRAMS!