For this series, USA Nordic will be checking in with coaches of each discipline, to get a pulse on Summer training. Today we chat with Chris Gilbertson, who has returned to coaching the nordic combined national team after seven years away from the sport.
How soon after getting hired did you arrive in Park City?
Less than two weeks. I was excited to get started.
What were your first communications with the athletes like?
Odd. I had dealt with Covid-19 at my old job, but it was weird being in a group of guys and everyone had a mask on. Really hard to read facial expressions when everyone is wearing a mask.
How did it feel to stand on the coaches stand again?
Intimidating, but also very familiar.
What are your biggest initial takeaways from this first camp with the team?
I was happy with everyone being open to some changes. Everyone was able to show me that they could make changes on the hill, and that is the key to getting better. It’s also a little frustrating because I’m used to being able to do catches with the athletes and adjust their positions, but it’s not quite possible now.
What’s the atmosphere on the team like?
Everyone is excited and looking forward to competing this winter. But there is also a cloud hanging over any future plans because we just don’t know what can happen even two weeks from now in regards to Covid-19.
Who’s jumping the best on the team right now?
Does it matter? We had an inner squad comp a few weeks ago and Taylor won the jumping and then put the boots to everyone on the rollerskis. Ben jumped well; Grant and Jasper made it past K as well. (Another inner squad competition took place last week, Ben Loomis won the jumping with Taylor Fletcher starting the race in second place).
How will the athletes training alter with you around? Are you putting an emphasis in certain areas? If so, what areas?
Trying not to change anything too much right now as far as dryland training. On the hill, I am definitely trying to get them to change their upper body angles on the take-off and into the first phase. Speed is a necessity, and when the gates are low it’s even more important to hold on to all the speed you have.
What does the plan look like moving forward for the men’s nordic combined team?
That’s maybe a big boss question. I’m definitely trying to take the entire team’s jumping to the next level so we can be both consistent and confident going into every jump portion of the competition. Racing gets more fun when you know you are going to score World Cup points, the only question is how many.