Hi everybody! Although this may be my last blog post for a while it is not a good bye or retirement post. The tone of this may sound a little gloomy but I am truly saying this all with a smile on my face

First and foremost I apologize for being terrible at keeping my blog updated. A lot has changed in 5 months, with Nordic Combined as a whole and my perspective on things. First of all I had probably my best and most complete competitions ever in the weeks following World Junior Championships. I jumped well and skied like the devil in a very tough and experience field. The rest of the year however, did not go so well. I came down with an illness and suffered from migraines and insomnia for the remainder of my tour overseas. I finished dead last in a few competitions and failed to score any COC points. This experience was more than discouraging and my confidence and moral slipped to an all time low. Upon returning home I had blood tests done to try and figure out why I had felt so terrible and my performance had slipped. I soon learned that my iron levels had dropped to near anemic levels. Its been an uphill battle since to find my strength again but copious rest and supplements have started to help out a bit. 

Reflecting on the season there was a lot to be proud of. I made leaps in the right direction both on the jump hill and on the cross country course.. I know I had and still have it in me to accomplish every single goal I set the past summer, but I repeatedly fell short and became more discouraged as the season wore on (the health issues certainly didn't help). It's hard to continually beat your head against a wall that just seems immovable. Burnt out would be an easy way to put how I felt at the end of the year, but I still have the burning desire to achieve greatness in the sport I so dearly love and that has taught me so much about life.  So far this summer I've been training when I can get a break from running a fence building/ repair business and working at Straightline Sports to eventually become a fishing guide. The time I have taken to recuperate has already paid dividends in more than just letting my body get back to normal. The mental rest has been great.

Most everybody knows that USSA cut Nordic Combined's funding this spring completely, initially, but and agreement was reached to partially fund the A Team (World Cup Athletes) and one coach. The B Team will receive zero funding as does the Development or C Team. What does this mean for athletes like myself? From an outside view it shouldn't matter because I was never part of the US Ski Team, nor did I receive direct funding from USSA. But, there was a trickle down from the top down funding, so things like vans in Europe or wax were either paid for or discounted due to that trickle down of USSA funding. Now without the support of USSA, Nordic Combined is faced with the challenge of fundraising for a full year on the World Cup. As it should, most of the money raised will go to the top tier of US Nordic Combined skiers. This obviously leaves the developmental athletes of a sport, that most Americans have never heard of, to foot the bill for coaches, wax, equipment, and travel to Europe. This number can be upwards of $30,000 for a year per athlete. Already US Nordic Combined has raised a substantial amount of money, but not near enough to compensate for what was lost from the funding cuts. Do I take the decision to cut funding personally? Yes. But, in this modern era of skiing and the mindset of American TV viewer Nordic Combined is sadly an after thought. I think I speak for every Nordic Combined athlete in the US when I say we are going to prove the nay sayers wrong. It may be a struggle, but we have some of the most dedicated and talented athletes that are going to be ready to bring some hardware home come 2018 and 2022.

As for me, it's time to take a break. I love this sport and always will. Nordic Combined is my passion. It has made me the person I am today and given me the chance to experience many things the majority of people my age are not fortunate enough to experience. But as I explained previously the past year took a lot out of me, physically and mentally. That's what has lead me to my decision to take at least a year away from competition. I plan on attending Montana State in Bozeman, training when I can and working towards a degree in Environmental Design. I still have the same goals to be an Olympian and world champion, but I feel I need some time away from the daily grind to refresh and gain perspective. Nordic Combined has always been a resilient group and I have no doubt we can be on top of the podium in the coming Olympics. So this is not "good bye", its "See you soon". 

Thank you all so much!
Aleck Gantick

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