For Tara Geraghty-Moats, Nordic Combined Continental Cups have been a long time coming
On Dec. 19-20, some of the United States’ Nordic combined and ski jumping national team competitors will return their teams’ home soil to compete in the Nordic Combined Continental Cup – the second of the season after the opener in Steamboat Springs Colorado on Friday and Saturday. The jumping portions of the event will be held at the Utah Olympic Park, while the cross-country legs will be held at Jeremy Ranch.
The early season competitions are always exciting, but for Tara Geraghty-Moats, they have been a long time coming.
That’s because this season is the second Continental Cup circuit that has ever included women’s Nordic combined. Geraghty-Moats has been one of the sport’s early advocates as officials have slowly considered adding it to the Olympic lineup. It’s currently the only sport at the Olympic level with a division for men, but not women. Women’s Nordic combined is slated to make its World Championships debut in 2021, which is expected to pave the way for an Olympic debut, though the possibility of Beijing hosting the event in 2020 was nixed by IOC officials last summer.
“I’ve been looking forward to this for a very long time,” said Geraghty-Moats. “To finally be able to compete in all of the events, see where I stand in the world standings and race with a bunch of really passionate women who also do combined is sort of a dream come true.”
She did not compete last season because she was shooting for an Olympic berth in ski jumping – one of several sports she has competed in at various levels, including biathlon and cross-country. She was also recovering from a fracture in her arm.
Two seasons before that she raced in the U.S.A. Nordic Combined National Championships at Soldier Hollow. Until that point there had never been a women’s national championship competition.
This season, she plans on competing in both the Nordic Combined Continental Cup and the Ski Jumping World Cup.
“I’m just going to take it one weekend at a time,” Geraghty-Moats said of her upcoming season. “There will be a couple World Cup events for ski jumping that I miss, but actually not too many. If it’s ever too crazy I’ll just not do something.”
But racing and jumping in Park City is on her to-do list, and the 25-year old could find herself at the top of the finals list.
Over the summer she tied with Stefaniya Nadymova of Russia in a two-event Nordic combined Grand Prix series.
“It will be really interesting to see how we stack up again after a fall of training,” Geraghty-Moats said. “I’m sure she will be a fierce competitor.”
Geraghty-Moats said she also expects to see some strong upstart competitors from Norway, and some developing athletes who have just recently started training in the nascent sport.
The last time Geraghty-Moats, who is originally from West Fairlee, Vermont, raced at Jeremy Ranch, she was a 16-year-old competing in the Wasatch Citizens Series. She said she will have to take another look at the venue when she gets to town and form a plan for the race leg, though usually she isn’t concerned with the cross-country competitions.
“I really like hilly courses,” she said.
The first round of competition ski jumping starts at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, starting with the women. The men will go first in the cross-country portion of the competition with a 10K race at Jeremy Ranch at 1 p.m., followed by the women’s 5K race at 1:30 p.m.
The schedule repeats on Thursday.
There will also be two FIS Cup ski jumping competitions scheduled to begin on Wednesday evening at the Utah Olympic Park. Practice rounds will start at 5 p.m., followed by the first round of competitions at 6 p.m. and the second round at 7:15 p.m.
The schedule will repeat on Thursday.
All of the events are $10 at the gate at the UOP, and free at Jeremy Ranch.
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Returning to Park City’s Shepherd of the Mountains Lutheran Church on Saturday is the annual Bike and Hike fundraiser in support of the Good News Jail and Prison Ministry.