Behind the scenes with… Tomas Kurik (SLO)
"My first day of work set the level pretty high!"
Though being a relatively small discipline, the Nordic Combined family still consists of people with all kinds of backgrounds doing all kinds of jobs. One of them is Tomas Kurik who works as a wax tech for the Slovenian Nordic Combined team. The former biathlete who competed for the Czech team started working in Nordic Combined two years ago after having worked as a wax tech in the Czech Continental Cup team before.
Tomas, how did you actually end up working as a wax tech in Nordic Combined?
Tomas Kurik: I was competing in Biathlon for the Czech Republic and I stopped racing because of school. But after only four months, I was missing the sport so much. Luckily, the coach of the Czech B-team came to me and said: "Come on, I need a service guy!" and I was like: "Oh my god, I am going!!!" (laughs)
As you have actually been a biathlon athlete and now you've worked in Nordic Combined for a while, what would you say is special about Nordic Combined?
Kurik: I know that a lot of people say Nordic Combined is not a hard sport. I know from my experience in biathlon that is is challenging to combine two different things, but Nordic Combined with the combination of cross-country skiing and ski jumping… I can't even imagine to be jumping! For me, Nordic Combined is way harder!
Can you walk us through you daily chores as a technician?
Kurik: Well, it depends which day it is. On a race day, you go to your wax cabin in the morning which is full of skis, waxes and stuff like that and you're thinking about the conditions. You check the weather forecast and also go outside and check the conditions. You measure the snow, you ski the track on which the guys will be competing. After that you chose the skis which you know will be working in these conditions and then you work on them… there's a million choices to be made. First, you chose the skis and then you chose a base wax, certain powders and structures and toppings on the skis which you will use for the final preparation.
This is something that the "normal" people on TV will never see or hardly experience live. I learned it because when I was a young athlete, I used to wax my own skis. Of course in the Czech national team they did the waxing for me but before that I've learned from an early age how to do it. And then you just keep improving by experience. It's learning from your mistakes, I guess.
What is the thing that you like most about your job?
Kurik: (laughs) I really like it a lot to compete with the other service guys, who will have the better skis but it's so hard for small countries like Slovenia. The Germans, Austrians and all of these big nations are six to eight people. But still, I like competing with the other service guys and then of course travelling to all of these nice places, like for example Ramsau, that was so nice. It's awesome to be out and skiing in this weather.
If you could change one thing about Nordic Combined, what would it be?
Kurik: What kind of question is that? Actually, I have so many ideas... (laughs) First of all, I would like to start a little bit later. Lillehammer and Kuusamo were so early! And it's also nicer for the athletes to race when there are more spectators at the hill and track.
But actually that was quite good at the last competition weekend in Schonach. The people were even cheering on the service people before the race. And when the athletes came to the start, there was this group of Santas making a Mexican wave for all of the skiers! That was pretty cool! Even our athletes Ales Vodsedalek who is pretty stressed before the races was smiling from ear to ear.
And then as a second point, the competitions are sometimes just not fair due to the conditions on the jumping hill. The cross-country races are fair. But it's so hard to give every athlete exactly the same conditions on the jumping hill.
Do you have a goal for the season that you would like to achieve with your athletes?
Kurik: Yes, everything is now focussed on the Olympic Games. I wish for good results at the Olympics for our guys. They are working so hard all year and would of course like to be successful.
What has been the best moment for you in your job so far?
Kurik: I think that was the first race with the Slovenian Nordic Combined team last year in Lillehammer. I was so scared, it was my first time on the World Cup tour and then suddenly we had amazing skis! Marjan Jelenko got the fourth place. That was amazing! My head coach Tripi (Primoz Triplat) was hugging and almost kissing me! He said: "Come to me, my Czech! I love you so much!!" For him, it was also a great result. It was the best ever for a Slovenian Nordic Combined athlete. It was so big for me… first day on the World Cup! But actually, it also set the level for me quite high for the time afterwards! (laughs)