Tell us who you are
I’m a 26-year-old Nordic combiner, from a very small town in Vermont called West Fairlee. I’m currently ranked best in the world for Nordic combined. I like skiing a lot, so I’ve competed in just about every skiing sport there is, but Nordic combined is my passion. My current goal is to get a medal at the first ever World Championships for women’s Nordic combined
Cross-country skiing, biathlon and now Nordic combined. What next?
I’m focused on Nordic combined at the moment, although I’ve been doing a lot of mountain running this spring, maybe I’ll do some more of those races later in the summer. I really love running full-out downhill. The uphill’s are pretty painful, but also satisfying because I know every minute of pain I can withstand with will make me faster and tougher in the winter.
Being an outdoors person, what is your concern about climate change?
I’m extremely concerned about climate change, and embarrassed that I am from a country where our president thinks climate change doesn’t exist. I think we all have a responsibility to take care of this planet. I’m working on ways to do this although my carbon footprint is bad due to all the air travel I do to get to competitions. Perhaps I can find some way to offset this in the future.
You studied in Sweden. Whats the story?
The Sollefteå skidgymnasium is one of a few ski schools in Sweden. It is a sports academy integrated into a public school. Athletes attend regular classes half the day and train for half the day. Students are given an extra year to graduate high school due to the school the miss for skiing. In my opinion is takes the best of both worlds and makes a winning program for young athletes.
I was only able to attend for one year. I was 19, so for me it was essentially a PG year. I took Swedish as a second language classes and also online college courses from the USA. My time in Sweden was formative for me. I wouldn’t be the athlete I am today without it. Not only did I benefit from the high level of coaching and training, but also the way of life.
One of the things I learned that stood out most during my time in Sweden was how to integrate being an athlete and being human. How to understand that some days you would miss practice to see family or go to a friends birthday and that was ok. How being human and enjoying life as a high school student could happen simultaneously with being an elite athlete. In the USA I think that athletes aren’t encouraged to take time for themselves, this often leads to burnout and shortened careers.
Hows your Swedish language skills nowadays ? Any favourite words?
Jag vet inte mina favorit ord men jag saknar att Fika, och Fredagsmys.
(I dont have favourite words as such, but I really miss my coffee breaks and hanging loose at home base and eating something unhealthy and rest after a tough working week)
Who is your idol, and gave the spark to start competing?
My mom Elizabeth (Betsey) Geraghty is the biggest role model I have in sports. She raced mountain bikes till I was born and still seems to get a medal in any running race she enters!
Mom made sure I was outside as much as possible when I was growing up. I can’t remember when I couldn’t bike or ski. She also taught me how to be a competitor. She set the bar high. If I was going to race, I was expected to be organised, take care of my own equipment and do well even when I was 8.
If I did well, I earned nicer skis and a ride to more races. She was a competitor herself. She knew racing was hard. She didn’t want to make it easy for me at the start only to find out later that being a sportsman is not easy. I’m incredibly thankful for the high bar she set, it made me the good athlete I am today.
The Cervenkas are mentioned by many athletes, whats your connection?
Well they all ski on Marwes to start with!
Vlad was one of my coaches on the junior national Biathlon Team. He has always understood my potential as an athlete, and pushed me to strengthen my weaknesses, especially my double poling. He and Petra his wife, who went to the Lillehammer games offered to host me and get me into shape this spring. I graciously accepted.
The Cervenka family are all incredibly hardworking and generous. I consider them true friends that have been there for me through a lot the ups and downs in my sports career.
You also play the violin and draw! Tell us about your musical taste?
I haven’t had the chance to play my violin much in the last year because I have been on the road so much. When I do have moment to play it, I usually play bluegrass or Irish music. My musical range of music depends on my current mood. I was listening to a lot of dub step and house music this winter. Now I’m in a metal, rock, and rap phase, picking songs for their lyrics and melodies not their particular genre
Here are some of my favourite tracks
Having travelled a lot to compete, any favourite or exotic locations?
Lahti and Lillehammer. I grew up watching old VHS tapes of the Llillehammer Olympics, the whole venue embodies the true spirit of Nordic sports. It’s usually the first stop on the World Cup for the winter, is the perfect place to kick off a long season.
Any favourite roller skiing tracks?
I think Östersund, and Solleftea Sweden.
Both of these tracks are on world cup level of ski trails. This makes roller skiing on them very similar to skiing. The hills, and transitions on them are exactly the same as you would find on a race course. The most important thing for a there are a lot of K and i don’t get dizzy from doing so many little loops!
What do you concentrate on in your roller skiing training?
I like to focus on the issue of getting faster.
What kind of role does roller skiing have in your summer training?
Huge. I’m on roller skis almost every day during the summer, all over the world. Some days are strength specific , some days distance skis with impulses, time trials, agility courses, ski across town for ice cream, racing in the summer grand prix, or racing in hill climbs. I was hoping to go to the Blink ski festival but that was not in the budget for this year. Hopefully next year!
I’m also trying to learn a rolling 360 on rollers skis, but haven’t quite gotten to the finished product yet.
Tell us about your roller skiing gear
After I had a knee surgery when I was 16, I borrowed a pair of Marwes and noticed that they were much smoother than the skis I had. The jarring from the pavement was much less with Marwes. Since then I have always skied on Marwes. I also think that the speed of the 6 wheels is very comparable to snow.
Tell us more about your special connection to Finland
Honestly, every time I have competed in Finland I have done well. I wish I could have more competitions there! I was 18th at junior world championships for biathlon in Kontiolahti, I was 15th two times in Lahti at a ski jumping World Cup.
Also, fun fact, the first time I ever jumped outside of the USA was in Lahti Finland. Oh, and right now Essi Kenttala (former US Nordic Combined Team massage therapist ) and her family are hosting me while I train in Steamboat. A big thanks to them, I’m so grateful for their hospitality!
Thank you for your interview Tara!
We wish you good health, success at Nordic Combined and other sports you might compete at. To see more on her life, events, and more great photos and videos, go to her instagram feed from here @tarageraghtymoats