|PARK CITY, Utah (March 16) - U.S. Ski Team athlete Jessica Jerome (Park City, UT) wrapped up the 2008 backcountry.com U.S. Ski Jumping Championships with titles Sunday on the HS100 (100 meter) jump at the Utah Olympic Park.|
Jerome's win gave her a clean sweep of both jumping titles, plus the nordic combined exhibition Saturday evening.
Jerome hangs on to take title despite challenge from Ellis
The women's second round saw a lot of shakeups in the standings behind Westminster College student Jerome, who survived a short jump to still win by four points over teammate Brenna Ellis (Park City, UT), who took silver. Abby Hughes, another Westminster College student, took bronze.
Ellis nearly pushed her way to the top of the podium with the long ride of the second round at 84.0 meters. She had been fourth after the first jump, but won the second to come ever so close to nipping Jerome for the title.
"It's a good way to end the season," said Jerome. "At the start of the year and last summer I was struggling quite a bit. I'm definitely very satisfied with how I finished off the season and it will give me more motivation to keep training hard in the summer and jumping far."
Jerome was coming off knee surgery, missing last season. She capped the Continental Cup schedule a week earlier with a podium finish in Zao, Japan.
Hughes back on podium
One of the big stars of the weekend was Hughes, who has been hampered by back problems since last summer. "I'm really excited with how I did," said Hughes. "I've only had more or less 60 jumps this winter due to the injury. Coming back and proving to everybody that I still have it and carving my name [in the results] again for the second day in a row is just awesome.
"I'm determined to be the best I can be. I can't wait to compete with all the Europeans and get pumped for the World Championships in 2009. I'm psyched."
Hughes has been mixing an aggressive physical therapy with the U.S. Ski Team together with "hot yoga" - yoga in 105-degree temperature.
Good field, good competitions
Spillane also praised the improvement in the field of young athletes. "Some of the younger special jumpers are coming along," said Spillane. "Three to four guys could have won today. It's really good to see them coming up."
Athletes also had high marks for the organizing committee including the National Sports Foundation under Greg Poirier, and Soldier Hollow with Howard Peterson.
"I was very impressed with how the hill crew got everything prepared," said Jerome. "It was pretty nasty conditions and they dealt with it. They got up here really early and got the hill prepared. It was great. I could have asked for the weather to be a little more helpful but it's an outdoor sport. That happens."
At the final awards banquet Sunday, Women's Ski Jumping USA made a special presentation of a $1,000 check in the memory of the late Paul Robbins. Robbins, a longtime U.S. Ski Team correspondent, died Feb. 23. The donation was made in lieu of athlete prize money for the women's large hill championship.
Most of the athletes will take a short break before getting back into training for the 2007 summer jumping season. For the women, it's an important season with the first women's class in the FIS Nordic Ski World Championships coming up next February in Liberec, Czech Republic.
2008 backcountry.com U.S. Ski Jumping Championships
Park City, UT - March 16, 2008
HS100 (100 meter) Normal Hill (first jump, second jump) final points
1. Johnny Spillane, Steamboat Springs, CO (Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club), (92.0, 91.0) 233.5
2. Bill Demong, Vermontville, NY (N.Y. Ski Educational Foundation), (91.0, 91.5) 232.0
3. Anders Johnson, Park City, UT (National Sports Foundation), (91.5, 90.5) 231.0
4. Chris Lamb, Andover, NH (N.Y. Ski Educational Foundation), (89.5, 91.0) 226.0
5. Nick Alexander, Lebanon, NH (N.Y. Ski Educational Foundation), (87.5, 86.5) 210.5
1. Jessica Jerome, Park City, UT (National Sports Foundation), (95.0, 78.5) 208.0
2. Brenna Ellis, Park City, UT (National Sports Foundation), (90.0, 84.0) 204.0
3. Abby Hughes, Park City, UT (National Sports Foundation), (90.5, 78.5) 193.5
4. Sarah Hendrickson, Park City, UT (National Sports Foundation), (90.0, 72.5) 184.0
5. Karin Friberg, St. Paul, MN (National Sports Foundation), (86.5, 81.0) 183.0
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photo Getty Images