- January 25, 2018
Ben Loomis is a 19 year old USA Nordic athlete from Eau Clair, Wisconsin who now resides in Park City, Utah. His love for the sport was influenced by his older brother, Adam Loomis, who is also a USA Nordic athlete. Ben enjoys training, backcountry skiing, hiking and taking advantage of all that the Utah mountains have to offer.
We sat down with Ben Loomis in between training sessions to pick his brain about what its like to be an up and coming USA Nordic athlete.
How did you get in to nordic skiing/jumping?
I started cross country skiing at age 2 with my family. At age 5 my older brother Adam got into ski jumping after watching the 2002 Olympics here in Park City. I followed suit and began ski jumping with him.
Tell us about a day in the life:
My life consists primarily of training related activities (which I love). This past summer I started a job working for a property manager maintaining condos. In the summer I am able to train in the morning, work for a few hours midday, and then go back for a second training session. I also started taking college classes at the University of Utah. I am able to continue my education online in my free time from training.
How do you balance your personal life with all the demands of being a world-class athlete?
As an athlete you have to make sacrifices and personal life is one of those. Fortunately I love the people my sport surrounds me with and feel my personal life often goes hand in hand with my athletics. Many of my best friends are the ones I train with everyday.
What is your training regimen like?
For the most part I train twice a day, 6 days a week. Luckily, training for Nordic Combined is varied and it never gets boring. We typically ski jump 3 days a week, spend 2-4 sessions in the gym and 4-6 endurance sessions.
How do you keep your body in shape during the off season?
Our off season is very short. We typically have around 2-3 weeks off from designated training. In this time I like to get in a lot of easy endurance hours. This usually consists of lots of ski touring, mountain biking, running, hiking and some good spring cross country skiing.
What is your favorite aspect of being on the USA Nordic Team?
I love being with a team that is 100% behind their athletes. I have no doubt in my mind our coaches and staff are doing everything in their power to help the whole team succeed.
Dogs or cats? I hate cats. Dogs, I love. My family has two.
Tinder or Bumble? What’s Bumble? Tinder, 100%
Sunrise or Sunset? Sunset when the green light flashes.
Check out Ben’s flavor of the week:
Keep in touch with Ben!
The Winter Olympics holds a special place for our crew. We were born in the mountains, and we’re based in Park City, Utah, home to a handful of the 2002 Winter Olympic events. Sports like skiing are in our blood, and we know how important music is for staying in the zone during rigorous training.
This is why we’re extremely proud to announce a new partnership today with USA Nordic, the national leadership organization of ski jumping and nordic combined in the United States. Through this partnership, we plan to support the national team as they pursue their World Cup and Olympic dreams by bringing powerful sound, innovation, and motivation to the team.
The coolest thing about USA Nordic is that not only are they an elite Nordic ski jumping and Nordic combined organization focused on team training and overall development of the sport, but they’re also our neighbors, based right here in Park City.
We’re not just working with USA Nordic on their quest for gold, but also on growing the sport in the United States. We plan to help them develop best practices in their training and support athletes as they transition from competition to a career. By working with the team’s athletes, we’ll also be using their expertise to help create new products and innovations that help athletes perform at their peak through music.
Photos by: Greg Snyder
Check out the teaser video for the The Nordic Journey series below to see the team powering their passion in the freezing temps of high-altitude Park City, and look for episodes featuring Nordic athlete interviews to follow!
Words by Tyler Wilkinson-Ray. I am a Colorado-based filmmaker with a focus on blending storytelling and cinematography. Most of my work fits in the outdoor film genre, and my passion is in capturing unique characters, discovering off-the-beaten-path stories, and finding new ways to talk about old problems. I’ve created content for some of the largest outdoor and tech companies on the planet and can play a variety of rolls from director to cinematographer, but most frequently I am hired as a one-stop-shop for content creation.
Aaron Rice grew up in New England, and fell in love with skiing at a young age. In High School he raced and instructed at the 240′ vertical Nashoba Valley. While at The University of Vermont he began exploring the backcountry and started to learn about avalanches. After graduating from UVM in 2012, Aaron moved to Alta, UT. He has been backcountry skiing there since. Each year doubling his vertical earned and pushing himself to ski harder and more technical lines, ski faster on the ups and downs, and ski longer days and longer lines.
In the summer of 2015, Aaron Rice reached out about a potential film project. A few days later, we met for a mountain bike ride in Vermont where we were both living at the time. I get pitched films all the time and very rarely do I sign on, but by the end of the ride I had agreed to make this film.
The film would be about Aaron and his attempt to set a new backcountry skiing record. The current record was 2 million feet in a calendar year without using chairlifts, snowmobiles, or helicopters. Aaron was going for 2.5 million, which meant he would need to average 7,000 ft a day, including rest and travel days.
I had no idea what Aaron’s chances were—he would later confess that he gave himself a 60% chance of breaking the record and a 40% of meeting his goal—but I knew the journey would be full of ups and downs, and if he broke the record it would make for one of only a few authentic stories that would come out of skiing that year. It was enough to convince me to follow him around the world for the next 12 months.
Most people, however, weren’t as easily convinced. Aaron was not a known professional skier. He had never done anything close to his goal of 2.5 million human powered vertical feet in the backcountry, and he lacked the usual sponsor backing to help fund the adventure. To say Aaron was an underdog would’ve been an understatement.
What motivated Aaron to dedicate an entire year to attempting to set a new record was a question that came up a lot. When people hear about record attempts, most people assume the goal is publicity or to make sponsors happy. It became clear very early on that this was not the case with Aaron. When I asked him on camera before he started his year he said he didn’t know, he didn’t have a good answer. He would later say he just wanted to ski a lot and travel, and getting a record seemed like a good way to do that. Well, you can ski a lot and travel a lot without needing to break a record, so I was still left wondering.
As winter 2016 approached, we filmed a little of Aaron’s prep through the fall and got a jump start on some skiing B-roll during December, 2016, but on January 1st, 2017 Aaron kicked off his adventure, and I did my best to hold on. I won’t go into the details of Aaron’s ups and downs since they’re covered in the film, but as a filmmaker this was one of the most challenging projects I’ve ever worked on. I didn’t follow Aaron on a daily basis. That would have been impossible with 50 pounds of camera gear. Instead, I would check in with him at least once a month and get caught up on how his challenge was progressing or on what hurdles he had hit.
I joined him for 3 weeks in Argentina, which was as fun to film as it was for Aaron to ski, and then flew back down to Chile for 36 hours to film him setting the new world record on Villarrica Volcano near Pucon, Chile. We wrapped up filming as Aaron hit 2.5 million feet a day early on December 29th, 2016. The editing took several months over the spring and summer of 2017, and then we finally premiered the film to a packed crowd at the Banff Mountain Film Festival. The film has since received a Powder Award for Best Documentary and a Vimeo Staff Pick. The awards and recognition have been a welcomed affirmation of the gamble we all took—Jaybird included—on this project.
Over the two years I worked with Aaron on this project, I eventually teased out what I think was as close to a reason for setting this record as Aaron had. The record was a means to an end. As Aaron had said on Day One, getting to ski everyday and traveling were, in fact, his goals, and while he could have just said, “I want to ski a lot this year” setting the goal of 2.5 Million was a powerful tool for making sure he actually did it—that he didn’t hit snooze when that alarm went off—because getting out of bed is often the hardest part. Once you’re halfway up a mountain, and the sun is rising behind you, you never wish you were back in bed sleeping. If there’s a takeaway for us “normal folk” who don’t want to set world records or don’t even know how to ski, it’s the power of setting ambitious goals and sticking to them––that applies to everyone.
Thank you Jaybird for believing in two underdogs, and I hope you all enjoy the film.
Photos by: Tyler Wilkinson-Ray