Women ski jumpers: Park City’s Abby Hughes 10th at Continental Cup in Germany

Posted By: Zeke Piestrup on January 7, 2010 4:40 pm

SCHONACH, GER. — Abby Hughes can tell you exactly how many steps there are to climb to the top of the ski jump tower at Schonach, Germany — 210. She counted every one in an effort to clear her head of “what she needed to do.”

It worked.

Hughes, a member of the Visa U.S. Women’s Ski Jumping Team, finished 10th in a field of 48 in Wednesday’s competition, the third Ladies Continental Cup so far of 2010. It’s her best showing to date in the 2009/2010 COC winter season.

After the first jump, Hughes was tied for 11th. “I usually would psych myself out in the position that I was in. The points were close and I knew it wouldn’t be much for me to finish in the top 10,” she said. Hughes counted the steps for distraction and then at the top of the jump, told herself (in Spanish) “I can do it” — part of her typical routine.

“My (second) jump felt good and consistent with the first (jump), carrying me 3 meters further. At the bottom I knew that I wouldn’t have moved back any spots and luckily I was able to move up.”

The 20-year-old finished third in the U.S. Nationals in October and has been jumping consistently, but she said she has been working hard to “turn her brain off” in competition and just let her body do what it already knows how to do.

“Every day, every jump is a learning experience, and I am figuring out how to relax my mind and have fun,” Hughes said.

Visa Team members Jessica Jerome and Alissa Johnson finished 13th and 15th and Karin Friberg finished 43rd. The team competes next on Jan. 9 and 10 in Braunlage, Germany.

Typically, COC comp venues host two days of competitions. But Schonach split its Ladies COC into two days to accommodate a televised showing on Jan. 23. The Visa team is sending three jumpers to that comp — Sarah Hendrickson, Nita Englund and Nina Lussi. That comp will help serve as a warm-up for these three jumpers who will be participating in the Junior World Championships on Jan. 29 in Hinterzarten, Germany.

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