While most eyes were on London during the 2012 Summer Olympic Games coverage, the US Ski Jumping team was focused on the 2013 U.S. Ski Jumping Championships. The Utah Olympic Park served as the competition’s venue, with this year’s event marking the fifth consecutive year of being held in the summer. Although the US athletes were sharing the stage with their international counterparts, the U.S. Champions are only concerned with the top American finishers. It’s an opportunity to determine the team’s top performers while also providing a chance to size up the international competition in anticipation of the World Cup’s 2012/2013 season.
On Saturday, defending champion Jessica Jerome managed to wrap up her ninth U.S. Championship crown and captured the 2013 large hill ski jumping title. The skier landed 119.5 meters in her first jump, and followed up with a 117.5 meters in the second round to take the title. Canada’s Alexandra Pretorius did in fact best Jerome with 125.5 meters cleared on each jump.
After the event concluded Jessica commented the win, “It feels good to defend my title. My jumping this summer technically isn’t as good as it was last summer at this point technically. So I knew that I had to work a little harder and I’m definitely satisfied. The Canadian girls are giving me a run for my money, but it’s really good to see because it means the sport is growing as a whole. It’s nice to have competition out there. Conditions were great today and pretty consistent.”
On the men’s side, reigning large hill champion Peter Frenette ended up tying with fellow USSA teammate Anders Johnson, marking the fourth career title for each athlete. This is the first time in Nordic U.S. Championship history that the title for large hill champion has been shared. Both Anders and Frenette were bested by Canadians Maken Boyd-Clowes (127.5m, 129.5m) and Mathew Rowley (123m, 129.5m).
Although surprised by the unprecedented decision, Anders Johnson was excited about the end result, explaining, “I’ve never heard of a tie at U.S. Championships, but it’s pretty sweet that Peter and I can both take home the victory today, so I’m pleased.” Peter Frenette appeared to share his teammate’s sentiment, saying, “It’s pretty cool to share the title with Anders. We were wondering who was going to take it, but glad it’s a tie and nobody has to argue about it. It seemed like everyone had a pretty fair conditions today.”
The high-flying action continued into Sunday with the normal hill discipline taking the spotlight. Olympian Anders Johnson was able to successfully defend his normal hill U.S. Championship title, earning his fifth title and second win of the weekend. Although he came in second overall, Johnson was beat by Canada’s Makenzie Boyd-Clowes who won the competition for the second day in a row.
Johnson cited a new training regiment as the source of his stellar performance. He explained, “It feels good to be the national champion. I’ve been working hard this last summer and changed my training style a little bit. I’ve been working with some past injuries that have really been lingering but I feel healthy again and I feel strong and for the first time in a while I feel like my jumping is actually starting to progress. I’ve had some good results this summer and a good weekend here and I think it’s a good starting point for the next two years.”
Jessica Jerome will also be taking home the women’s normal hill title. This marks her tenth U.S Championship title, finishing the weekend two-for-two after clinching the large hill crown yesterday. Once again, Jerome’s performance fell short of Canada’s Alexandra Pretorius, who jumped 91 meters and 94.5 meters in comparison to Jessica’s 88 meters and 92.5 meters.
When asked about going two for two this weekend, Jerome responded by saying, “To sweep the whole weekend gives me a little bit of confidence. I know my jumping isn’t amazing right now but today I actually felt better, so I was happy with that. And I’m excited for my 10th national title – double digits!”
Fans of the of the team hoping to get a glimpse of 2012 World Cup champion Sarah Hendrickson and 2009 World Champion Lindsey Van competing in the U.S. Championships were disappointed as both athletes were sitting out, still in recovery from planned off-season surgeries.
All in all, the weekend was a great way to get back into the competitive spirit as the summer begins to wind down. World Cup Ski jumping is slated to kick off on November 23 in Lillehammer, Norway — and has the potential to be a blockbuster year for all disciplines.
OFFICIAL RESULTS FOR SATURDAY
OFFICIAL RESULTS FOR SUNDAY