When I held a parent Q & A session last summer at Springer, a number of parents requested that USA Nordic consider doing younger junior camps. Well, we heard you, and last weekend we held our first ever Junior Flyer Camp in Iola and Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. The camp was designed for athletes under the age of 12 or relatively new to jumping, though we welcomed all comers. Every jumping session except one was held on a 30 meter or below, with some at the Iola Winter Sports Club and some at the Tri-Norse Ski Club. The camp also included dryland training where athletes worked on balance, agility, speed, and coordination as well as physical testing, and a Mini Tough Mudder, which was a fundraiser for the Tri-Norse Ski Club (and a lot of fun!). This was the second in a series of camps being held in Central in June. Ishpeming did a great job hosting a similar camp the weekend before, and Blackhawk is holding a camp this weekend so we are certainly not alone in our efforts, however this was the only camp being put on by USA Nordic.
Early on in the planning process I decided that since skiers and parents would all be together, there was a great opportunity to share information and resources with parents, coaches, and athletes, both on and off the hill. As a result, the camp included sessions on USA Nordic website resources, quick equipment safety checks for athletes and parents, waxing jump skis, and nutrition. Lunch and dinner were also provided for athletes and parents in an effort to provide healthy options and also get to know one another more through eating and spending time together.
17 athletes participated in the inaugural camp ranging in age from 8 to 15. If I am honest, I was hoping for more, but it is a start. To coach these athletes we were fortunate enough to have 2018 Olympians Abby Ringquist and Mike Glasder. We also had Junior National Team athlete, Cara Larson, two-time Olympic Ski Jumper and Blackhawk Ski Club coach Kurt Stein, and local legend and Ishpeming Ski Club coach, Gary Rasmussen. It was great to have so much expertise present and to hear from athletes who are competing at the highest level and coaches who have been involved for many years. These are exactly the kinds of opportunities we want to facilitate more in an effort to share knowledge, work on fundamental skills, and to discuss different philosophies. Ultimately, the hope is that more athletes and coaches can attend and these interactions will start to produce more of a common philosophy where all coaches regardless of the level are speaking the same language.
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Photos from Jennifer Hassrick and Kimberly Smith (thank you!)
We could call this the USA Nordic philosophy, but I would rather call it the American philosophy. I strongly believe that a common philosophy is imperative for future success. The time for politics and contradictory approaches to Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined must end if we want to move forward. We need to utilize all the current best practices, the expertise of all of our National Team coaches from both Europe and the US, and the expertise of our club coaches to do what is best for our juniors. Included in this philosophy is promoting the Courage to overcome our fears, the Confidence to believe that we can be the best in the world, and the Character to do what is right on and off the hill, not just be great athletes. You will be hearing these terms a lot more. Camp t-shirts had them right on the front and we recognized athletes each day with bibs for exemplifying these traits because we believe it is our job at USA Nordic to begin to live the culture we want to see.
If we can instill these values, be more on the same page, focus on fundamentals and proper training, and have FUN doing it, then we are going to accomplish some great things as a nation. I believe Junior Flyer Camps can be a great tool to instill these values, and I am excited for our next Camp in Alaska July 9-14, and the final camp in Lake Placid, August 17-19.
By Jed Hinkley