Flying High: Local Athlete Makes World Cup Ski Team
The Upper Valley has a rich history in winter sports and skiing athletes who have made it on to the world stage. Fairlee, Vermont native Tara Geraghty-Moats, age 22, has joined the ranks as a member of the 2015-2016 US World Cup Ski Team for Ski Jumping.
Tara has been skiing since age two. She grew up skiing at Mad River Glenn, and participated in the Cross-Country Ski Program at Oak Hill in Hanover (near Storrs Pond), where she first became enamored with idea of ski jumping. They have a kid-sized ski jump there, and from the first time she tried it at age nine, she was hooked. Competing at the World Cup level has been a life-long goal of Tara’s. She notes on her website that she wrote that as one of her “dream goals” in a school exercise at age 10. As her abilities grew, Tara participated in cross – country skiing and Biathlon (which combines cross-country and riffle shooting), at the national and junior world level.
We have had the pleasure of working with Tara since she was 16 and have greatly enjoyed watching her career grow. Tara, like most elite athletes, has been no stranger to injury. In 2009 she sustained a knee injury; a tibial fracture, a micro tear in her meniscus, and a blown ACL. She underwent surgery, followed by rehab at another facility. Her knee became infected, which hindered her healing process, and made rehab tough. That said, she got through it and went back to training that spring. During one of her training jumps, she landed and her knee just collapsed. In the hospital she was told her original surgery had not taken. This was devastating news to the young athlete at the beginning of her career. This time, the damage was even more severe. She underwent a 2nd surgery, this time successful, and decided to do her rehab at Cioffredi & Associates.
Tara worked with Kate Leiser, PT, DPT, OCS, and they were a great match; Tara really liked Kate’s approach to rehab. “Kate was very thorough. She really listened to what I wanted to do. She took time to understand me and my needs, and knew that I wanted to get back to competition.” Rehab lasted about 8 weeks, and before being discharged Tara was already back to training for cross-country skiing, doing roller skiing and agility skills.
“Rehab with Kate was as intensive as my usual training. It took more attention to detail, as there was something new to focus on each week. Working through the scar tissue was tough and painful at times. Everyone’s rehab is different based on their scar tissue, and everyone responds differently to the treatment. It’s really an ongoing collaboration between the patient and the therapist.”
Post-rehab Tara decided to focus on the Biathlon, noting that she wanted to give her knee a break from the landing impact of ski jumping. That winter Tara qualified for her first World Championships for Biathlon, not even one year out of rehab. Tara had a great Biathlon career attending several Junior World Cup Championships, but her love of ski jumping called, and in 2013 she returned to the air. In the last two years she’s had 4 podium results at the national level, participated in her first World Championships, and is now is competing in her first World Cup Season.
Tara’s first two World Cup events in Norway and Russia in December of 2015 went really well. She came in in the top 20 in both events, 17th and 20th respectively, and was ranked as the top American Ski Jumper. Currently ranked 23rd in the world, her goal is to be in the top 10. Competition in 2016 will take Tara around the world, competing in Japan, Germany, Austria, Kazakhstan, Sweden, and Norway. Tara says she tries to take time to enjoy every place she visits, though free time is definitely sparse. “Travelling is really a lot about time spent at the airports and in hotels, and preparing for competition, but I try to take some time out to really enjoy it and soak in the culture.”
Like some sports, ski jumping is a sport that has little funding for athletes. Each athlete is required to fundraise, and that is admittedly the hardest part of the sport for Tara. She has found some private sponsors, and even people from throughout her life are helping support her via a RallyMe campaign she is running.
Today, Tara reports that her knee is doing great. She’s five years out from her 2nd surgery, and her knee only “acts up” periodically when she goes on a long five hour run. We’ve seen her back in the clinic over the years for a tune up here and there, and we are excited to see where she’s headed next. When asked if she has Olympic aspirations, Tara noted, she’s got a shot at the Olympic team if she stays healthy and on track with her training. “I’m taking it one step at a time. It’s on the horizon for me, but I’ve got a few World Cup seasons to get through first, and the World Championships next year in Finland which is the next really big competition.”
What does a training regimen for Ski Jumping entail? A look at Tara’s training program
Ski jumping is all about power and form. The takeoff of the jump is actually sloped down, so you need to generate a lot of power off the jump and get into the proper form for maximum flight distance. Tara’s weekly training regimen includes:
- Strength training (typically 3 days of weights)
- Plyometics (3 days), working on explosive jumps and hops.
- Some cardio: Long distance running, hiking, biking, etc.
- Practice on the ski jump no matter what the season. Jumpers practice on a synthetic surface in the summer and fall that gives them the real-feel of snow!
- Stretching. Lots and lots of stretching!