|PARK CITY, Utah (March 10) - Top U.S. athletes will be in Utah this weekend for the 2008 backcountry.com U.S. Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Championships on the 2002 Olympic venues. Bill Demong (Vermontville, NY) and Jessica Jerome (Park City, UT) will be among the leaders for the season-ending U.S. Championship event.|
Demong, who swept the 2007 U.S. Championships in Steamboat Springs, CO, is coming off the best season ever for a U.S. nordic combined skier. Sunday Demong finished the season-long World Cup in third, a new U.S. mark. A year ago Demong, who lives and trains in Park City, won both jumping titles plus nordic combined.
Competition begins Friday with a USSA SuperTour jumping event at 8:00 a.m. followed by a nordic combined sprint at 11:00 a.m., all at Park City's Utah Olympic Park. U.S. Championship competition begins Saturday morning on the 134-meter big hill at the Utah Olympic Park with men's and women's title events beginning at 8:00 a.m. The nordic combined cross country finale is set for 6:30 p.m. at Soldier Hollow near Midway, UT. Championship action wraps up Sunday at 8:00 a.m. with men's and women's events on the 100-meter normal hill at the Utah Olympic Park.
Jerome, a four-time U.S. champion, is fresh off her first Continental Cup podium in a year-and-a-half. The Park City native missed the 2006-07 season with an injury but has been fighting her way back. Jerome is favored in both the women's jumping events. Defending champion Lindsey Van (Park City, UT) is out for the season. Van has a two year, four title string going back to 2006. Jerome won her last title on the normal hill in Steamboat Springs in 2005.
Another dark horse in jumping will be Park City teen Anders Johnson. Johnson, whose sister Alissa is on the U.S. Ski Team, led the U.S. World Junior Championships squad to its best team event finish in recent years last month in Poland.
"It's a great way to wrap up the season," said Demong. "The long stretch of the winter is gone and we can celebrate in Park City with all our friends. I'm looking forward to some good comps with juniors and see what kind of talent we have coming up."
"I'm looking forward to coming home and competing at nationals next weekend in Park City," said Jerome, whose podium Sunday in Japan capped her comeback season. "My technique hasn't been far off, and my jumping and overall fitness is moving in the right direction. So hopefully I can keep building on that and finish off the season with some long jumps."
"The U.S. Championships here in Park City are important in bringing the entire nordic combined and jumping family together to celebrate another monumental season," said USSA Nordic Director Luke Bodensteiner. "We haven't been to the Olympic venues for U.S. Championships for a while. It's taking place a little earlier this year, so the athletes' motivation will still be really high.
"Park City has a number of fun competitions scheduled around the championship so the athletes should really enjoy the event. And there is a lot of snow, so the conditions should be great!"
The competitions are all open to the public at no charge.
2008 backcountry.com U.S. SKI JUMPING AND NORDIC COMBINED CHAMPIONSHIPS
FRIDAY, MARCH 14
8:00 -10:00 a.m. - USSA SuperTour Ski Jump (HS134 jump), Utah Olympic Park
11:00 a.m. - USSA SuperTour Nordic Combined Sprint, Utah Olympic Park
SATURDAY, MARCH 15
8:00-10:00 a.m. - U.S. Championship Ski Jump (HS134 jump), Utah Olympic Park
(includes men's championship, women's championship and nordic combined jump)
6:30-7:30 p.m. - U.S. Nordic Combined Championship Cross Country, Soldier Hollow
(includes men's nordic combined 7.5K championship, women's 5K exhibition)
SUNDAY, MARCH 16
8:00-10:00 a.m. - U.S. Championship Ski Jump (HS100 jump), Utah Olympic Park
(includes men's championship, women's championship)
Picture by Alex Broadway/SWpix.com