By: Adam Loomis, Nordic Combined Team Member
This spring, USASN’s Nordic Combined Team received the news of hiring a new coach, Nik Huber. We also named two new juniors: Ben Loomis and Stephen Schumann. This is the most additions we’ve made in the four years that I’ve been on the team. It’s really exciting to have new blood flowing through our team. Here’s an introduction to the newcomers.
Nik is coming off six years of coaching the Norwegian Nordic Combined Team, where he led them to two golds, one silver and a bronze medal at the Sochi Olympic Games. Over the last couple years, we’ve seen some of Norway’s strongest cross country skiers improve their jumping in a remarkable style. Nik seems like a perfect fit to help us do the same. Nik had a successful career as a World Cup ski jumper for Austria before beginning his time as coach. He helped the Austrian team win multiple Four Hills Tournees and World Championships with the likes of Wolfgang Loitzl and Andreas Kofler. Back in 2010, his switch into the world of Nordic Combined was surely an initial shock, but he later told FIS that he’s “never regretted one minute of working in Nordic Combined.”
Nonetheless, there’s really no way to know how well he would mesh with our team until we got down to business together. It quickly became evident that beyond his expertise, Nik brings an abundance of enthusiasm, passion and positivity. Our team thrives on positive energy, and his confidence enabled us to quickly build up trust in him. On the hill, Nik is constructive, and off the hill, he is using his experience to help us develop new programs to build strength, speed and power.
Perhaps most importantly, Nik’s philosophies are right in line with our other jumping coach’s, Martin Bayer. In the winter, Martin will spend much of his time traveling to Continental Cups and World Junior Championships, while Nik will be on World Cup. It will be a smooth transition for athletes bouncing between circuits and coaches. With Martin Bayer living primarily in Slovenia, and Nik’s home not too far away in Tauplitz, Austria, you might wonder how it will work with having two coaches based in Europe. No need to worry, they’ve already made the trip over to coach us in the US twice, but from here on out we’ll be the ones traveling overseas more than them.
Stephen Schumann (Park City, UT) and Ben Loomis (Eau Claire, WI) also come to the team with plenty to offer. Both are still in high school at Park City’s Winter Sports School and already have impressive résumés. Last winter, Stephen scored Continental Cup points on three consecutive days and made the World Junior Championship Team, all while still too young to drive. Ben, age 18, brought home a historic silver medal from the 2016 Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway and won the USSA Nordic Combined Skier of the Year Award.
But, just like Nik and the rest of the team, these kids can’t bring their medals and awards to training. They bring themselves, their enthusiasm, personality, skills, and (only occasional) tells of their youth. It’s fun to have new guys as a part of the group. We’ve shown time-and-time again that we feed off pushing each other as one unit. These two are already nipping at our heels, to say the least! Even the Fletchers have to watch out when either of them has a good day. Look for more strong results to come from our juniors, especially with World Junior Championships being held on our home court in Park City this upcoming winter.