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U.S. Ski Jumping Championships

Women’s Nordic Ski Jumping Added to The Olympics

After a long battle, Women’s Nordic Ski Jumping has finally made it in the Olympic Winter Games!

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The announcement was made early this morning. A press conference is being held at the Utah Olympic Park to celebrate the announcement.

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Will Women’s Ski Jumping make it to the Olympics?

Below is an article posted on Reuters.com :

Olympics-Women’s ski jumping set for Sochi, says FIS head

The long-awaited approval of women’s ski jumping for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics now looks a formality, ski federation head Gian Franco Kasper said on Tuesday.

“The ladies ski jumping has become a purely political question,” the International Ski Federation (FIS) president told Reuters at the Sportaccord Convention where the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is also meeting to decide on new events.

“But I think that is rather a formality. With the others, I really do not know.”

Apart from ski jumping, other events up for consideration include ski halfpipe (men and women), ski slopestyle (men and women), snowboard slopestyle (men and women), biathlon mixed team relay, the figure skating team event and luge team relay.

The IOC’s powerful executive board is expected to announce a decision on most of the events on Wednesday after postponing a ruling late last year, with IOC president Jacques Rogge saying some may need to be monitored a little longer.

Kasper said an Alpine team event and the women’s ski jumping were the priorities for his governing body.

“We will see what comes out. I am quite sure that they will accept all the events, not only from skiing but also luge and the team event in skating and biathlon,” said the Swiss IOC member.

“Sochi has a little different list to what the IOC has or that we have because they want to have only those new events where they have a certain medal chance,” said Kasper.

Women’s ski jumping tried to win a place in last year’s Vancouver Games but was rejected on the grounds that performance levels were not good enough and too few nations and athletes were involved.

“It has improved since then, no question,” said Kasper.

“We have now more athletes and increased the level of performance so I believe they are ready now. But it is a political question for the IOC. That’s why I am very sure they will accept it.

“I think that’s more a formality, on condition that the Russians agree of course.”

If women’s ski jumping is given the go-ahead, the nordic combined event — which mixes cross country skiing and ski jumping — will be the only one at the Winter Games without any female competitors.

Youth Ski Jumping at the Utah Olympic Park

Here is a video of kids ski jumping at our venue. They are enrolled in our sport development  programs.

Women Lead Rebirth in College Ski Jumping

Lindsey Van Ski Jump

Here is an article about women’s nordic ski jumping  from the New York Times:

Women Lead Rebirth in College Ski Jumping

By BILL PENNINGTON

On Saturday, for the first time in 31 years, there will be a United States collegiate ski jumping championship. And for the first time, it will include women.

The competition in Park City, Utah, is being sanctioned by the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association, a federation of nearly 200 universities representing about 5,000 athletes that has been an alternative to N.C.A.A.-sponsored ski racing for three decades.

The N.C.A.A., which has a dozen Division I ski racing institutions and more than 30 affiliated ski teams over all, dropped ski jumping from its national championship in 1980, a move viewed as a death knell to ski jumping in the United States.

Soon, dozens of ski jumps were torn down or shuttered. And without collegiate ski jumping to aspire to, hundreds of high school ski jumping programs were abolished.

This year’s initiative is seen as a rebirth. It may be a baby step, with about 20 competitors, but it is being portrayed as a symbolic one, especially because it will include women at a time when there is no female ski jumping in the Winter Olympics.

“It’s kind of a ‘Field of Dreams’ moment,” said John Jacobs, the association’s board member who spearheaded the move to include ski jumping for the 2011 regular season and national championship. “We wanted to tell all the junior ski jumpers around the country, hey, don’t give up. Because we’re here waiting for them as they get older. And everyone is welcome.”

Danielle Lussi, a freshman at Harvard, qualified for Saturday’s nationals.

“It’s always been a bit deflating for young girls who jumped because they had little to look forward to,” Lussi said. “This will keep a lot of young jumpers in the sport. I’ve already been telling some of the younger ones, ‘Hey, did you know you can do this in college now?’ ”

In addition to ski jumping, the association has sanctioned Nordic combined, a combination of cross-country skiing and ski jumping. The organization also sponsors competitions in snowboarding and in Alpine, freestyle and cross-country skiing. Most of the more than 500 teams in the association are considered club programs at their institutions, although most have paid coaches and some have six-figure budgets.

Ski jumping was once the N.C.A.A.’s most prominent snow sport competition. The first national ski championship was in 1954, with hundreds of jumpers and thousands of spectators. Many colleges, including Dartmouth, Williams, Middlebury and Colorado, had ski jumps.

But according to Chip LaCasse, who sat on the board of the N.C.A.A. skiing rules committee at the end of the 1970s, there was pressure on the college ski community to consolidate — or lose its N.C.A.A. backing.

“They wanted one ski championship combining the results of the men and the women teams,” said LaCasse, who headed the powerhouse University of Vermont ski program for 34 years.

He added: “Title IX was becoming a bigger factor in decisions, and when we went to merge the men and the women, we looked at ski jumping and knew we had a problem. Because back then there was no women’s ski jumping championship. There were only about three or four women jumpers in the whole nation.”

LaCasse said: “I was a college ski jumper and I love the sport. But I voted, like the rest of the rules committee, to eliminate ski jumping. I did it to save skiing as an N.C.A.A. sport. I did it for the greater good.”

Within a few years, the ski jumps at Dartmouth, Williams and Middlebury disappeared. So did dozens of high school jumps.

“Ski jumps around the country just vaporized,” said Alan Johnson, the athletic director of USA Ski Jumping, which has become the closest thing to a national governing body of elite-level jumping. “The number of jumpers declined and there wasn’t enough money.”

Local clubs remained and offered training near jumps where the following was passionate. But Walter Malmquist, who competed for the United States at the 1976 and 1980 Winter Olympics, noticed a steady decline.

“We used to have 150 participants at competitions,” said Malmquist, who helps coach junior jumpers in New Hampshire. “Not that long ago, we were having trouble getting 30 or 40.”

In the last decade, however, there was a sudden surge in the number of jumpers registered with the United States Ski Association. There were 411 registered in 2000 and 602 in 2006, dipping to 532 in 2009.

Many in the ski community credited an influx of young female ski jumpers.

“About 40 percent of our new ski jumpers are girls,” Malmquist said. “It may have been seen as a male sport 30 years ago, but these girls don’t know about that, or care.”

At the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club in Colorado, half the jumpers in the developmental program are female. Jay Rand, executive director of the New York Ski Education Foundation, which runs programs at the Olympic Jumping Complex at Lake Placid, said 12 of his organization’s 45 junior jumpers were girls.

On Wednesday, a senior member of the International Olympic Committee said he would recommend that women’s ski jumping be included in the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. While the I.O.C. twice voted against adding the sport for the 2010 Vancouver Games, late last year its board said it was weighing it “favorably.” A decision is expected in April.

Some of the best female jumpers in the world are Americans. Lindsey Van of Park City won the inaugural women’s world championship in 2009, though she failed to defend her title last week.

This year, the ski and snowboard association sanctioned 10 regular-season jumping events. The field for Saturday’s event will be small, but several members of the jumping community predicted that as word of the initiative spread, the number of collegiate jumpers and Nordic combined athletes would blossom.

“It is a first start, but in five years, we absolutely will have 50 jumpers, or more, qualifying for nationals,” said Laura Sullivan, the association’s executive director. “The phone began ringing off the hook as soon as we announced we were doing this. You’ve got to give the colleges a little time to get organized and to find the jumpers, but that whole jumping community is very aware and excited.

“We’ve been through this with other sports. So far, the growth in ski jumping has been faster than when we added snowboarding.”

Karin Friberg, 21, who will jump Saturday representing the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, said she had been pointing toward the event for months.

“In the past, there were a lot of 16- to 18-year-old ski jumpers who would come to the realization that they weren’t going to make the national team and they would just give up the sport,” Friberg said. “It was a shame. But now there is a new opportunity. There will definitely be jumpers who choose to go to college so they can keep jumping. College ski jumping will become a destination.”

Friberg wondered if it might even raise the quality of American Olympic-level jumping.

“Not everyone peaks at 18,” she said. “It’s good to keep as many of us out there as we can. Besides, what’s more fun than flying through the air?”

Billy Demong leads U.S. team into Nordic combined opener today in Finland

The following is an excerpt from an article posted at theskichannel.com:

From the top of the towering jump scaffold at the Ruka ski area north of Kuusamo, you can see all the way to Russia. Well, it’s just 30 miles away. The frigid land of mid-day sunset will be the scene Friday of the International Ski Federation’s nordic combined opener as Olympic gold medalist Billy Demong leads a four-man U.S. contingent to the gateway of Lapland.

“I feel good about it this year,” said Demong. “We’ve been strategic in our preparation and this is the one of the best group of four guys we’ve ever brought to Kuusamo.”

It wasn’t easy getting there, but team finally made it to Kuusamo after a successful tune-up camp in the Olympic village of Lillehammer, Norway. After flying Oslo to Stockholm to Helsinki to Kuusamo, or, actually, rerouting to Oulu over 200 kilometers away, it was like a homecoming. The opener has been held in Kuusamo every November since 2002, although the Americans strategically skipped the event a year ago.

“We made it!,” tweeted Demong. “Home sweet Ruka Hovi! Seems nice, not too cold, snowing lightly. Could it be a new Ruka?”

The Ruka ski resort, also home of the freestyle moguls opener in a few weeks, is north of the Finnish city of Kuusamo – the gateway to Lapland. Kuusamo is situated just south of the Arctic Circle and only about 30 miles as a reindeer would run through the frozen lakes to Russia.

“The weather is fantastic here – maybe a bit cold – but it’s clear and I’m seeing mountains I never knew were there before,” said Demong.

The ski hill at Ruka pops up like a bump on the frozen tundra. The jump hill is on top with the cross country trails running around the base, up and down the hill. It’s one of the toughest jumping hills on the circuit and most challenging cross country courses.

“Ruka has always been a big wakeup call for us,” said Demong. Kuusamo hasn’t been all that kind to the USA over the years. Demong and Spillane split podiums in 2007 and Lodwick scored a pair in 2004.

Click here to read the entire article.

Waiting for their shot

The following is an excerpt from an article posted at ParkRecord.com:

It’s all in the hands of International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge now.

Women ski jumpers across the globe must continue down the familiar road of wait-and-see after the IOC announced Monday in Acapulco, Mexico, that women’s ski jumping is on the fast track to being accepted as an Olympic sport, but must wait for the official decision in the spring of 2011.

For now, whether women will be flying high for a shot at an Olympic medal in 2014 in Sochi, Russia, is still up in the air.
The IOC announced that it needs a more in-depth look at each sport waiting for Olympic approval, but as a spokesman said via live teleconference call that things looked “favorable” for women’s ski jumping.

Six Olympic hopefuls huddled around a table at the Utah Olympic Park Monday hoping to hear some good news; Deedee Corradini, president of Women’s Ski Jumping USA, who sat anxiously with team members and other associates, was pleased with the outcome.

“I think this is a huge win for us,” Corradini said. “It’s exactly what we were hoping for, from what we’ve been hearing from our sources over the last week or so. It’s very positive.”

Rogge, who has been given the final say in the matter, announced that his final decision will come down after the ski jumping World Championships in late February 2011 in Oslo, Norway.

He mentioned that he wanted to see how the sport has progressed, and was adamant about making an informed decision by the end of April.

Reigning world champion Lindsey Van of Park City didn’t mince words when asked what her initial reaction to the IOC decision is.

“(I’m) not surprised,” Van said. “It gives them more time to look. I feel confident, but I don’t expect anything. It’s just a game I don’t want to play.”

Click here to read the entire article.

USASJ Athletes Make Final Preparations Before Snow Flies

The following is an excerpt from an article posted at skiracing.com:

With winter on the cusp and the trees nearly bare of autumnal leaves, the ski jumping men of the USASJ program are putting their finishing touches on their plastic jump training and dryland conditioning efforts.

Following his win—with a new hill record in Lake Placid—Peter Frenette, is continuing his training currently based out of the Olympic Training Center (OTC) in Lake Placid. USASJ coaches report that he continues to nurse a little soreness in his groin, following an injury earlier this year, and is receiving help from the OTC staff.

New Hampshire jumpers Nick Alexander and Nick Fairall are also still in Lake Placid continuing jump training on the Olympic jumps at Intervale.

Jumpers Mike Glasder and two-time US Olympian Anders Johnson returned home to Park City, UT from training in Lake Placid to continue preparations and await the snow on the jumps at Utah Olympic Park.

Team jumper Chris Lamb continues to ply his efforts for the winter based out of Trondheim, Norway. There he has been competing against many of Norway’s top fliers. During the off-season, Lamb took part in a FIS Cup in Falun, SWE and the Norwegian National Championships in Trondheim. FIS Cup events are the third highest-ranking events following COC’s and World Cups. At the Norwegian nationals he turned in some solid performances.

Lamb wrote recently,“ In the championships on the large hill, I had caught a groove and made two of my best jumps this summer. After the first round I was in 8th position with a jump of 127 meters. It was a great feeling as I had jumped into the top of the field among some of the world’s best.”

His 2nd ride was good for 121m and he finished in a “very satisfying 12th place”.

Click here to read the entire article.

Demong going for 2014

The following is an excerpt from a blog posted at TeamUSA.org:

Billy Demong has had a busy summer. The Olympic gold medalist has balanced speaking engagements, bike racing, home renovation, and a July wedding to fiancé Katie Kocnyzski, whom he proposed to the evening after winning gold in February.

With only a few miles on his bike-racing legs, he did four major stage races on his bike, plus a criterium (where he finished 16th, eight places behind Olympic biathlete Jeremy Teela).

But until recently, Demong hadn’t done much training for Nordic combined.

“Ultimately this became the year to catch up on life,” he said via email. “I did not need a break from training, just needed the time training takes to do other things. I can train all day everyday and love it, and I can work all day everyday and love that too!”

His main project was gutting and rebuilding his house in Park City — without much outside help.

But after competing in the Tour of Utah, a six-day bike race held in mid-August on roads around Salt Lake City and won this year by Levi Leipheimer, Demong dove back into full-time training for Nordic combined.

Why?

Because he wants to compete for four more years — to help the up-and-coming U.S. Nordic combined athletes develop into world-class competitors, and to defend his gold medal in the large hill in Sochi in 2014.

“Aside from the odd couple days here or there manufacturing and installing some concrete countertops, I’ve mostly been able to train daily since the Tour of Utah,” he said.

His plan, he says, is “to start the season swinging for the fences” in the first four World Cups. Then after a mid-winter break, he plans to “hammer down at Worlds.”

As for the six months he took off from training this past spring and summer, he says that he already feels more motivated.

“I can already say that this little break really is helping me mentally start building the desire to go for four more and be even better.”

Click here to read the entire article.