Opening up new horizons: Korea
With the Olympics 2018 taking place in PyeongChang, Korea, the international Nordic Combined elite is set to head to the new far-eastern destination for the first time this winter. But how do things look like for the discipline of Nordic Combined in Korea?
Pioneer Je-un Park who represented his country already at the World Championships in Falun last year is currently on an extended training camp in Europe until mid-November to prepare for the Continental Cup Opener in the USA in December. „We are two athletes and two coaches: my father and Till Feist who is German. Until last season, I did not really have any coaches but I split my time between the Korean ski jumping and cross-country team. So I always only did one of the two and never mixed it which is of course not ideal. We know that we need a lot more experience but we are also positive because we can develop a lot.“
Park started out as a ski jumper and has been part of the Korean ski jumping team in the past, has always wanted to be a Nordic Combined athlete, though. „It was my original goal to be in Nordic Combined. But it was not easy to train in this discipline in Korea, so I did cross-country skiing as a kid and after that I learned more about ski jumping because the opportunities were slightly better for that. When they established a Nordic Combined team not long ago, I was able to finally change over.“
In the upcoming winter, the team’s goals are centered on the Continental Cup. As a long-term strategy the Koreans are set to gain as much international experience on the highest level as possible at the World Championships in Lahti in 2017.
With not many opportunities to become a Nordic Combined athletes and a low public interest for the sport in their home country, both athletes are very much looking forward to the first Nordic Combined Continental Cup in their home country in this upcoming winter season.
Je-un Park: „In spite of the Olympics coming to Korea in 2018, the interest for Nordic Combined is still pretty low and so there are only very few young athletes who do it. We are very excited and looking forward to our first home competition very much. I really hope that many people and young athletes will notice it and we can grow as a discipline.“