This past weekend the Visa Women’s Ski Jumping Team continued their strong performance with four members of the team earning top 10 finishes on Friday and five in the top 15 on Saturday at the Continental Cup event in Zakopane, Poland.
Sarah Hendrickson, the overall leader in the World Cup points standings earned a 1st and 2nd place finish on each of the respective competition days. Jessica Jerome took 6th and 8th, Abby Hughes took 7th and 10th, Alissa Johnson seized 7th and 9th, and Nina Lussi had a 15th and 22nd place finish.
The weekend Continental Cup event replaced a World Cup event scheduled for Jan. 28-29 in Szczyrk, Poland, which was cancelled for technical organizational reasons, according to the International Ski Federation.
“Zakopane can be a really difficult hill for some and especially coming from Predazzo (last weekend) it’s like night and day,” said Johnson. “But I think because it was a COC I was able to relax a little and just focus on bringing my good result from last weekend into this weekend.”
Hughes agreed, saying that the atmosphere was a little less pressure-filled, but still an exciting event because a men’s World Cup competition was taking place during the same time and fans came to watch in droves.
“About 20,000 fans showed up,” Hughes said. “Organizers held the women’s COC award ceremony — for the first day of our comp — in the outrun of the World Cup run. It gave me goose bumps to hear that many people cheering for those six girls, especially Sarah (Hendrickson).”
Lake Placid native Nina Lussi posted one of her best results to date (15th on Saturday) on the COC with a solid first-round leap of 72 meters on the K85 hill. The 17-year-old is an up-and-coming member of the Visa Development Team. She attends Skigymnasium Stams, in Stams, Tirol, Austria — a prestigious school that focuses on balancing competitive skiing and academics.
“I am really happy with my results and my jumping was much better today (Saturday),” Lussi said. “The rest of the girls are so encouraging and make me feel really comfortable even under the pressure of a competition.”
Lussi and her fellow teammates competed in Poland just one day after the tradgic passing of Sarah Burke, the half-pipe skiing pioneer from Canada who sustained fatal injuries in a fall in the pipe in Park City, Utah, more than a week earlier. As a tribute to Burke, Visa Team members are donating a portion of their earnings from the Zakopane event toward Burke’s medical expenses.
“It was very sad when we got the news about Sarah,” Johnson said. “It definitely hits close to home and makes you take a step back and think about your own life and the lives of the people around you. Donating some of our prize money is the least we could do to help support her family and to honor one of skiing’s greatest pioneers.”
To learn more about Burke and help support her family, go to http://www2.giveforward.com/sarahburke.html.
Continental Cup Results
Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012
1. Daniela Iraschko, AUT, 215.0 (91.0, 83.5)
2. Sarah Hendrickson, USA, 214.5 (79.5, 86.5)
3. Ema Klinec, SLO, 198.5 (81.0, 76.5)
6. Jessica Jerome, USA, 188.5 (78.5, 75.0)
7. Abby Hughes, USA, 180.5 (76.5, 73.5)
9. Alissa Johnson, USA, 179.0 (79.0, 71.0)
15. Nina Lussi, USA, 144.5 (72.0, 63.5)
Friday, Jan. 20, 2012
1. Sarah Hendrickson, USA, 234.5 (89.0, 89.5)
2. Daniela Iraschko, AUT, 228.0 (88.0, 85.0)
3. Ema Klinec, SLO, 218.5 (84.0, 82.5)
7. Alissa Johnson, USA, 192.5 (78.5, 77.5)
8. Jessica Jerome, USA, 191.0 (78.5, 78.0)
10. Abby Hughes, USA, 190.5 (78.5, 76.0)
22. Nina Lussi, USA, 135.0 (66.5, 65.0)