Growing up in Eau Claire, Ben Loomis got a taste of the sloops at an early age. But not all champions wear gold. Some prefer red, white, and blue.
"We did have both the Flying Eagles Ski Club, a local ski jumping club which I grew up in; as well as a local cross-country club, Chippewa Valley Nordic. That's where I began [cross-country] skiing and doing races with them. So, it was cool to have the ski jumping and the cross-country side in the two different clubs," says Ben Loomis, Wisconsin native and Nordic Combined skier for Team USA.
While the exposure did pose an initial problem, one Olympic discipline quickly solved it.
"I love ski jumping and I love cross country skiing. I really couldn't pick one or the other that I loved more," says Ben. "Nordic combined skiing starts with ski jumping and from there your points from the jump are converted into time. Then it's a staggered start, for example, if you jump to third place then you might be 20 seconds back from the leader in the cross-country race and the first person to cross the finish well wins."
Competing in his second Olympics, Ben still has a patriotic first to look forward to.
"I did attend PyeongChang in 2018 and competed in those Olympics, but I was not in the service and the army. It's extra special going into these representing the army and it brings a lot more pride in being able to represent Team USA and the US Army at the same time," says Ben.
A member of the US Army's World Class Athlete Program, Ben is just one of many soldiers competing in the 2022 games.
"It's bigger than people think. It's around 60 athletes, I believe. Less are winter athletes, but it is cool to show we have soldiers going to these games. One of my teammates is a Nordic skier, as well as a couple of bobsled athletes and luge and skeleton athletes as well," says Ben.
For Ben, success might not end in a podium finish.
"For sure, I'm looking for better results than my previous games and for me, I think that could be a top 20 or top 15 results," says Ben.