On National Girls and Women in Sport Day (Feb. 3, 2020), USA Nordic celebrates its own sport pioneers. In this episode of Ticket to Fly, host Peter Graves explores the pioneering efforts of nordic combined champion Tara Geraghty-Moats.
Skier Tara Geraghty-Moats is a modern-day pioneer! In the sport of nordic combined, which matches cross country skiing with ski jumping, she’s the number one ranked woman in the world, blazing a pathway for her sport and female athletes. She talks to Ticket to Fly about her sport’s upcoming World Championship debut and the push for Olympic inclusion in 2026.
Growing up in Vermont’s Upper Valley, a hotbed of Olympic talent, she tried her hand at many sports from freestyle skiing to biathlon to cross country skiing. But she saw an opportunity to make a difference in nordic combined, and has been the leader internationally in moving her sport from debut to Continental Cup to World Cup and now World Championships.
Geraghty-Moats has been living and training in Lillehammer, Norway this winter. It has been a season of lifetime achievement and day-to-day frustrations as COVID impacts the debut season of the FIS Nordic Combined World Cup for women. In an already small schedule, events in Lillehammer and Otepää, Estonia were canceled. Lillehammer was rescheduled but then canceled again after pandemic border closures in Norway.
In December, Geraghty-Moats won her sport’s World Cup debut at a rescheduled event in Ramsau, Austria. She now has her sights set on February 27 in Oberstdorf, Germany for the World Championships debut. And hopeful inclusion in the 2026 Olympic Winter Games in Milan-Corina, Italy is still on the horizon.
How did you find your love of sport growing up in Vermont?
I just love to do all sorts of sports, especially winter sports. I was a ski jumper from a very young age. I did biathlon starting at 17. I started cross country racing when I was eight. And I also did some freestyle competitions when I was quite young. I first saw some ski jumps at Oak Hill in Hanover, New Hampshire, right by Dartmouth College when I was cross country skiing with the local ski club. And I thought it looked like a pretty neat sport to try.
After a tough all of training due to COVID, how did you approach the World Cup?
I was really, really proud with how I handled the World Cup. I had very, very low expectations going in and I just tried to focus on small technique aspects and do the level best I could with the training I had had. It was amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever really got nervous for a competition. I think that partially it was the pressure of the fact that this was the first ever World Cup for women’s nordic combined. I knew that whoever won that event would go down in history as the first ever winner of a women’s nordic combined World Cup.
How important has your training base in Lillehammer been for you?
You can definitely feel the Olympic legacy that the ‘94 games left and I’m training at all of those venues. The gym that I go to was actually at the opening ceremony venue. And also the legendary Birkebeiner Stadium was actually where I was just this morning doing intervals.
How important is your team of USA Nordic athletes to you?
It’s amazing having other team members who are women. And while they definitely come to me sometimes with questions or looking for some opinions, I like to think of myself more as a teammate to them and they’re teammates to me. They work just as hard as me. And I know that if they’re given enough support in the coming years, they’ll be medal contenders.
Tune in to Ticket to Fly
What is Tara’s outlook on the future for women’s nordic combined? What advice does she have for young athletes? And how important it was for her to have home cooked meals from mom during her visits with Tara during her long stay in Europe this winter.
Fans can tune in to Ticket to Fly to hear Peter Graves’ full interview with Tara Geraghty-Moats. It’s available on all major podcast platforms. Don’t forget to subscribe and leave a review for Ticket to Fly: The USA Nordic Podcast.