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Two Parkites headed to Beijing for Olympic games - but must still vie for a start

(L) Stephen Schumann and (R) Jared Shumate
US Ski and Snowboard
(L) Stephen Schumann and (R) Jared Shumate

Two Park City youngsters are headed to the 2022 Beijing Olympics after being nominated to compete on the U.S. Olympic Nordic Combined team.

22-year-old Jared Shumate and 21-year-old Stephen Schumann were both named to the 2022 U.S. Olympic Nordic Combined team this week. However, it remains to be seen if they will be competing in the Olympic games.

USA Nordic Combined Team Director Nick Hendrickson tells KPCW the team is comprised of four men for the two individual and one team events. Team USA is bringing a team of five men in case of illness or injury. A final decision, Hendrickson says, will be made the day before the first competition based on how the team members are performing at that time.

It really just comes down to how the guys are jumping. Of course, this year, there's a big asterisk with COVID and it's a big travel and there's always something going on when we travel internationally. So that's why we bring five. You know, we could bring four and put all our eggs in one basket that those four guys will be healthy. But we're bringing five because even if you don't compete, you still are there. You're learning what the Olympics is all about. You know these kids are both young. We expect them to go for another four years so that when they show up in Milan, you know, they have this wealth of experience already.”

This will be the first Olympics team that Shumate and Schumann have been named to. They’ll be joining veterans Taylor Fletcher – who was named to his 4th Olympic team as well as, Ben Loomis and Jasper Good – both experiencing their 2nd Olympic games.

Nordic Combined is an event that – as its name indicates, combines ski jumping with cross country ski racing. Based on the result of their ski jumps, the competitor who had the highest score will begin the cross country skiing portion first. The racer who crosses the finish line first, wins.

Hendrickson noted that Shumate has consistently improved after winning his first ever podium last year.

Jared has kind of been on the consistent up and up, really since I started working with him in 2018. He took some really big steps last winter...he had his first ever podium on the Continental Cup circuit, which is - that's just one level below World Cup. That was in Lahti, Finland, and he's just been consistently getting better and better. This yea, specifically, he took a big step on the ski jumping Hill, which you've always been a really strong cross country skier.

Shumate’s naming to the Olympic team, Hendrickson noted, was clinched when he scored World Cup points at a World Cup in Italy finishing in the top 10.

Stephen Schumann, he says, is also a strong cross country skier who is making strides with his ski jumping as well. Schumann had his personal best – finishing 10th in a competition in Russia - over Thanksgiving.

“Stephen works extremely hard,” Hendrickson said, “and he's an extremely driven individual. And really, that one personal best was a qualifying event for him.”

The first of three Olympic medal events kicks off on Wednesday, February 9, with the Individual Normal Hill and 10 kilometer competition, followed by the Individual Large Hill/10k on Tuesday, February 15. The final event -- the team competition on the large hill and a 4 by 5k relay - is set for Thursday, February 17.