|Ben (left, closest to the camera) and Jason Lamy Chappuis (neon shirt) about to start the XC portion of Grand Prix event in Oberweisenthal, GER.|
Steamboat Winter Sports Club
Steamboat Springs, CO
Every summer the Ability Plus program at the SSWSC takes a month long trip to Europe in August. These summer trips are an unbelievable way to allow young athletes to gain much needed experience, see how tough the competition is in Europe, and have a lot of fun bonding with their teammates. Some of my most memorable experiences over the years have been on these trips.
Definitely the most memorable of these experiences was two summers ago when I was 17 years old. Our A team rarely competes in the Summer Grand Prix’s (Summer World Cups) allowing the young guys on the development team to get a shot at skiing against the best in the world. I’ll never forget showing up at the jumps in Oberweisenthal, Germany and seeing all these athletes I’ve looked up to my whole life. When I was younger I used to wake up at the wee hours of the morning and watch the World Cup races on my computer. Now all of a sudden I was competing against the athletes I had watched endlessly as a child. Just this experience in itself was unreal, but it gets better.
At the time I was jumping very well and I actually ended up laying down a solid jump. In between the jumping and the cross country we went back to our hotel to relax. I remember hopping on my computer right away to pull up the start times on the FIS website. I saw that I had tied for 30th place in the jumping with maybe the greatest Nordic Combined skier of all time, Jason Lamy Chappuis of France. Jason Lamy Chappuis has an Olympic gold medal, 4 World Championship gold medals, 3 World Championship bronze medals, 57 World Cup podiums, 25 World Cup victories, and won the overall World Cup in 2010, 2011, and 2012. I remember everyone joking with me to try and hang with him in the race. In the back of my mind I thought, I could probably hang with him for a couple minutes out of the start.
The race began and skiers began to barrel out of the start. After a minute or two I was at the line and the clock was ticking up towards my start time. All I was thinking was, “stick with Jason, stick with Jason”. The buzzer went off and I accelerated out of the start. At about the same time this blur went flying through my peripheral vision. It took me a second to comprehend what had happened, Jason Lamy Chappuis had put about 100 feet on me in just a matter of seconds. I didn’t see him again for the rest of the race and I ended up getting lapped by the leaders on my 3rd lap. I believe that was the most I have ever gotten my ass kicked in this sport. This was such an amazing and humbling experience. It really opened my eyes to the amount of work it would take to achieve my goals. After the race I told myself, “someday I’m going to ski that fast”. I still will never forget the day that one of the greatest Nordic Combined skiers ever motivated me without even knowing it.
Editor’s Note- Check out Ben’s FIS bio page and international results- click here