Ben Berend is a U.S. Nordic combined athlete making his Olympic debut in PyeongChang. In 2012, he won a silver medal on the normal hill at the Youth Olympic Games.
Nordic combined beginnings
They say never meet your heroes. Ben Berend would probably revise that to “if you ever meet your hero, don’t be a weirdo about it.”
Berend grew up idolizing fellow PyeongChang teammate Bryan Fletcher and five-time Olympian and 2010 gold medalist Billy Demong. They’re the reason he decided to be a professional skier.
So when a young Berend was doing homework in his bedroom one day – a room plastered wall-to-wall with posters of Demong – and the real-life version of the man glided into the room, Berend was pretty embarrassed.
“If your hero ever becomes a friend and or acquaintance, definitely tone down the stalker vibe in your room,” Berend said.
Two years after joining the pro circuit, Berend won the bronze medal at the U.S. National Championships in 2016.
Berend finished second in the jumping portion of a World Cup event in 2016, giving the now 22-year-old a confidence boost.
“I’m most proud of jumping to second place at the World Cup in Chaux Neuve, France last season,” Berend told OlympicHopeful in June. “That was a really big milestone for myself. Just to help me understand how talented I am on a good day.”
Berend describes Nordic combined as “racecar driving in spandex.”
Will make his Olympic debut Wednesday, Feb 14 at 1 a.m. in the individual normal hill/10 km competition.
Off the slopes
Berend loves the Lord of the Rings movies and traveling around the United States.