Nordic Combined is a sport closely related to its Nordic neighbour disciplines Ski Jumping and Cross-Country Skiing. The close ties and common education, especially with the Ski Jumpers, will be an important factor in the premiere of the Women’s World Cup this season, as the Ski Jumping series have formed and developed many of the athletes who will now ultimately be a part of in the inaugural Nordic Combined World Cup series.
One of them is the current best female Nordic Combined athlete in the world: Tara Geraghty-Moats, who spent the seasons 2015, 16 and 17 on the tour. While we firmly count her in “Team Nordic Combined” these days, there are two other athletes we would like to cast a light on in today’s face-off: German World Cup winner and Team World Champion Svenja Würth and Canada’s two-time Olympian, World Cup podium athlete Taylor Henrich are both set to compete at the inaugural World Cup weekend in Lillehammer.
Both of them are prolific ski jumpers in their own right and have had their first close encounters with the complexity of Nordic Combined… with varying results.
After 58 Ski Jumping World Cup starts, for Henrich, that first encounter came in 2018, when she started in the Continental Cup in Park City (USA) and claimed two third places straight-away. Obviously, as an athlete with a strong ski jumping background, the 25-year-old was among the first to leave on the skinny skis and managed to hold her own on the track (even though a small bump on the track caused her to crash and give away an even better end result in the process).
The Canadian confirmed her results with a second place in a Mass Start event in the following year, again with very strong ski jumping results, even if her cross-country skiing times were among the slowest, a working point she shares with her face-off opponent Svenja Würth.
The 27-year-old German decided to make the switch to Nordic Combined just this spring but can look back on a 92-World Cup start Ski Jumping career, which lead her to the podium one time and to a Team Gold medal at the 2017 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Lahti.
Compared to Henrich’s five starts and three podium results, Würth’s Nordic Combined career is limited to one ill-fated Continental Cup start in Eisenerz (AUT) so far. She, predictably, impressed on the jumping hill but had to pay dearly for her inexperience in the cross-country race, which she was not able to finish due to starting too fast.
Nevertheless, Würth decided to put everything on the line and make the switch, now training together with the reigning FIS Junior World Champion Jenny Nowak and a strong group of girls, while bringing her experience in Ski Jumping to the table.
In contrast, Henrich returns from a time with few competitions over the last years with the Olympic Games in PyeongChang 2018 being her last high-level Ski Jumping event. She spent time away from the sport doing stunts but also helped with the training of young athletes in Squamish (CAN) over the summer. She is supported by former Nordic Combined athlete Wesley Savill as coach.
Both, Henrich and Würth, will certainly be among the ones to watch on the jumping hill this coming winter. Whoever manages to hold her own best on the cross-country track in addition to that will be a dangerous addition to the Nordic Combined group of women.
In the special Covid-19 situation, which makes competing all over the World and obtaining the required Nordic Combined Continental Cup points difficult, the Nordic Combined Committee decided to open up participation and allow female athletes who have taken World or Continental Cup points in Ski Jumping in the last two seasons to start in the newly formed Nordic Combined World Cup as well this winter.
So more Ski Jumping athletes might be trying their hand at being a Nordic allrounder – a situation wich promises a lot of excitement to come on top of an already fantastic line-up of skills and characters in the group of longer-standing Nordic Combined women!