LILLEHAMMER, Norway -- Paul and Karyl Loomis looked at the competition schedules for their two sons and noticed that in February both were competing in Norway. This meant one thing: a Loomis family vacation.
Their youngest son, Ben, would represent Team USA in Nordic combined at the Lillehammer 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games, while their oldest son, Adam, would be competing at the FIS Nordic Combined World Cup for the United States.
With both of their boys scheduled for international competition, Paul and Karyl, along with their daughter Sam, booked their flights to Norway.
“There’s just no way we could miss this,” said Karyl. “It was something we wanted to experience as a family and something I’ll never forget."
Ben won’t forget it either.
On Tuesday, he won the silver medal in Nordic combined at the Youth Olympic Games, which is the first U.S. medal in the sport at a Youth Games.
“This is just amazing,” Ben Loomis, 17, said following the race. “I know my family is really proud of me, and I was glad they were able to be here and enjoy it with me.”
He began the day with the longest jump in the trial round. With his confidence high, Loomis soared more than 320 feet in the competition round, scoring 129.7 points to place second heading into the cross-country skiing race.
The 5-kilometer race at Birkebeineren Cross-Country Stadium was a tough course that featured a lot of hills. Loomis and Tim Kopp of Germany were close throughout, but Kopp was able to outsprint Loomis for gold.
“This was one of the toughest races I’ve ever done. It was a great race, but Tim was just a little bit faster at the end of the race and able to push it over that final hill,” said Loomis in the mixed zone following the race.
Waiting just on the other side of the mixed zone was his family. His mom holding a “Team Ben” flag she made prior to their trip, his sister with an American flag and his dad with a camera, capturing every moment.
“This trip has been phenomenal,” Paul said. “Being able to see both boys in Norway has been just fantastic and something we’ll never forget.”