Pioneering Nordic Combined: Meet Tara Geragthy-Moats
Tara Geragthy-Moats is the newest addition to the Team Madshus lineup for the 2019-20, and a pioneer in women’s Nordic Combined.
The 26-year-old native of Vermont, USA, is defining the sport and setting the standards as well as being a role model for girls who want to pursue Nordic Combined.
Last year, Tara won every Nordic combined race she entered, and did so by leaving a solid gap to the rest of the competitors. She is also named an athlete role model athlete ambassador to the Youth Olympics for Nordic Combined.
We caught up with the ambitious athlete about her goals and dreams, her passion for skiing as well as how she got into Nordic Combined, her training plans and favorite workouts.
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How did you get into skiing?
“I’ve always skied, ever since I was two years old. I come from a very athletic family. My mom was a mountain bike racer and an ultrarunner, and worked in a ski shop. So I was always around skiers and skiing. I did everything, cross-country and alpine. But when I was eight years old, I discovered ski jumping, and I begged mom to let me try. She said I could start the next year, and I did. So I’ve been ski jumping since I was nine. I had a four-year timeout from jumping, but when I was 15, I was named to the US national development team. I also did biathlon for a while during the years I took time off from jumping, and I love backcountry skiing and alpine touring as well, so I guess you can say I just love to ski.”
Why did you end up with Nordic Combined?
“I love both cross-country skiing and ski jumping. I love cross-country skiing because it makes me feel strong. I can go fast, and I love pushing my limits aerobically. I love ski jumping because you get to fly, and who doesn’t want to fly?”
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What does it mean that the FIS now is opening Nordic Combined to women, also at the World Cup/World Championship level?
“That’s so huge. And what amazes me the most is how fast the skiing community has responded to the opportunities, and how fast it has become professional. Last year, the women’s Nordic Combined circuit was tiny, and with very limited resources. This year, we have a real competition circuit, and in 2021 we are a part of the FIS World Championships, so I think everyone just realized that we have 18 months to get ready for that. I notice a huge difference in that there are more national teams, the athletes have wax techs and support crews and real training plans.”
How do you train for two sports that are so different in nature?
“In some ways, Nordic Combined is a lot like biathlon, in that you have to be very structured and focused in your training. We don’t get as many jumps in as the skiers who specialize in jumping, and we don’t get as many hours for cross-country as the pure cross-country skiers do. So you really have to make all your workouts count, and really listen to your body to avoid getting overwhelmed by the training volume or injured by doing too much volume. It’s a difficult balance.”
What are your specific goals for the 2019-20 season?
“Last year I won every event that I entered in Nordic Combined. This year there is a lot more competition out there. I always want to ski faster, and with the cross-country races in the women’s Nordic Combined being 5 kilometers long, I can push at 95 to 96 percent of my VO2max the whole way. I love pushing those limits. I also want to take my jumping performance up one level, jump longer and better this winter.”
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What is your favorite workout?
“That’s a hard question. I guess I have two, at least. But plyometrics, which is various kinds of explosive drills where you jump onto or over various things, is one of my favorite workouts. I love how it makes my legs feel: springy like a kangaroo. And this is a workout that helps both my jumping and my cross-country performance. I also love long, over-distance workouts in the spring. I love being gone all day, whether cross-country skiing or alpine touring. Sometimes I do these outings on the trails where my mom took me when I was little. She would tie me up to our golden retriever and have the dog pull me along so I would ski fast enough to keep up with her. So doing on long workouts on those trails brings back good memories.”