By Mani Cooper, Ski Jumper and Nordic Combined Athlete
It was after watching the Four Hills Ski Jumping Tournament in Innsbruck with my dad that my sporting life took a turn. Even after him showing me how athletes can crash, I knew I wanted to give Ski Jumping a go. After two years with my club SV Innsbruck Bergisel, in 2013 I was selected for the Tirolean Ski Federation, this was where I was introduced to Nordic Combined. Since then I have been having so much fun with the discipline which combines Cross-Country Skiing and Ski Jumping. I was honoured to represent GB at the Youth Olympics in 2020.
A Nordic Combined competition weekend normally starts with a Ski Jumping competition, then using the points and ranking from that a Cross-Country race follows. Alternatively, the mass start format is occasionally used. This is where the Cross-Country race takes place before the Ski Jumping competition, everybody starts together, and the result is finally decided in the Ski Jumping.
For Ski Jumping I need my Jumping skis which are 228m long, helmet, googles, gloves, jumping boots and one of the most important things is the jumping suit. With Ski Jumping the suit can make a big difference on the performance in a competition. I have a few training suits but one competition suit which is fitted specially for me.
For Cross-Country skiing I have a race suit, a head band, glasses, poles, boots, and, of course, skis. The skis are very important, if you have the wrong ski for the snow conditions then the race is over. Each athlete has pairs of skis for different snow conditions as there are some big differences between wet snow, hard snow, artificial snow, or if the sun is shining, or it is snowing, or raining it all comes down to the ski testing which is done before the race to select the right ski.
I train at Schigymnasium Stams every week from Monday to Saturday. We normally go jumping 3 or 4 times a week together with ski roller or Cross-Country skiing. In addition, we also do a lot of gym work and fast jumping exercises. Every week is different as the training plan depends on what is coming up the following week and whether we have any competitions.
If you want to start Nordic combined or even if it is just Ski Jumping don’t be scared! You will soon realise that it is so much fun. Find the nearest club to your home and give it a go.