Tara Geraghty-Moats wins 11th consecutive Continental Cup through rib injury
When Tara Geraghty-Moats arrived in Park City earlier this week, there was some doubt as to whether or not she would be healthy enough to compete in the FIS Continental Cup.
Not even a week prior, Geraghty-Moats injured her ribs during a ski jumping competition in Lillehammer, Norway, and wasn’t sure if she would compete.
Geraghty-Moats decided to fight through the pain, though. That’s why when she crossed the finish line on Sunday at Solider Hollow in the cross-country race, she raised her hands in triumph and smiled through the falling snow.
“Yesterday in the cross country race, my rib was really out of place so it was a massive struggle today,” Geraghty-Moats said after the race. “It felt okay today during the jumping portion but my ribs really hurt during the cross country race. I was really lucky I had a lead going into the race because honestly I don’t think I could’ve skied much faster.”
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Geraghty-Moats was in first place heading into the final cross-country race of the weekend after amassing 110.0 ski jumping points. She finished the race in 15 minutes and 23.7 seconds, 43.7 seconds ahead of second place finisher Gyda Westvold Hansen of Norway.
The win is Geraghty-Moats’ 11th consecutive in the Continental Cup after she swept all 10 events last season. Westvold Hansen took home second place while Stefaniya Nadymova of Russia completed the podium with a third-place finish.
Fellow Americans Alexa Brabec, the youngest competitor in the field, and Annika Malacinski finished eighth and ninth respectively while Nina Lussi finished in 11th.
Making her return to Nordic combined was also Kathleen O’Connell, a senior at Montana State. O’Connell, who finished in 12th place after struggling on the ski jumps, plans to move to Park City upon graduation and return to the sport full-time after a long hiatus.
On the men’s side, Parkite Ben Loomis was the top finisher for the Americans when he crossed the finish line on Sunday in fifth place. Loomis entered the final cross-country race with the third most ski jumping points at 127.5, but completed the race in 26:43.4, just 11.2 seconds behind third place finisher Torbjoern Naesvold Leif of Norway. Jakob Lange of Germany finished the cross-country race 25:51.6 to take home the championship while Paul Gerstgraser of Austria finished in second place in a time of 26:26.0.
“Every day I felt better and better so I was very happy with my progress throughout the weekend and overall with the level I was at,” Loomis said. “I was presently surprised by my cross country skiing because after missed training this summer, I wasn’t totally sure where I would stack up. … I was a little bummed to not make the podium but still thrilled to have two solid top-five results.”
American Jared Shumate, who entered the race with the second lowest ski jumping points of the top 15 competitors finished in 10th place after crossing the finish line in 27:15.1. Grant Andrews and Jasper Good finished in 20th and 24th respectively, while Evan Nichols, the youngest competitor at just 16 years old, finished in 36th.
With the Cup now over, most of the American athletes are taking some time off to head home and spend the holidays with their families.
For Geraghty-Moats and Loomis, they have further plans.
“I’m going back home for Christmas first to have some family time, but then my next big competition is in Norway, the next stop in Continental Cup circuit,” Geraghty-Moats said. “But before then, I’ll be an athlete role model at the Lausanne 2020 games (in Switzerland), which I’m really looking forward to. It’s the first time women Nordic combiners will be competing in an Olympic event so it’s a monumental point in time and I’m really looking forward to witnessing it.”
“For me, I will spend this week in Fort Carson, Colorado with Jasper Good to finalize our enrollment into the World Class Athlete Program,” Loomis said. “After that, I will stay home through the holidays to train and spend time with family. … But then in January, I will head to Europe for more competitions.”
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It’s going to be at least another month before Summit County’s high school athletes have any chance of getting onto the field again.