U.S. Ski Team’s Women Jumpers Gun for Top Spot
Oct. 20, 2007
First Tracks!! Online Ski Magazine
Park City, UT - Perennial podium producer Lindsey Van (Park City, UT) feels she's back on track and Jessica Jerome (Park City, UT) has returned from injury to form two cornerstones for the U.S. women's ski jumping program as it heads toward its first World Championships in 2009.
Van, a 12-time U.S. women's champion, has been among the top three jumpers since the women's Continental Cup schedule was established with the 2005 season. The University of Utah student scorched the tour last winter in the final month with three wins and four other top-3s; No. 2 in 2005 and '06, she ranked third for '07.
Jerome, who is enrolled at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, has won four U.S. titles and been the second-ranked American women's ski jumper each year. She tore knee ligaments in a training crash a year ago and said the time away from training and competing refueled her love of ski jumping as she waited for the 2008 season to get underway.
Kjell Ivar Magnusson is the Team's new head coach after three years as head coach of the strong Norwegian women's squad. "Kjell's awesome," Van said, echoed by Jerome: "He has such a great way of coaching. I think he's perfect for us."
"This Team has talented girls, who work hard. We've been making some adjustments and they're improving all the time," he said.
While he looks to Van and Jerome to continue their leadership role of challenging for the podium, he also is pleased with the accelerated way in which newcomer Avery Ardovino (also Park City) moved into the international scene. The women's schedule has summer and winter competitions; after the eight summer events, Ardovino, Jerome and Van were all in
the top 10 - Ardovino eighth, Jerome ninth and Van 10th.
Behind those three are three other Park City products. Alissa Johnson, Brenna Ellis and Abby Hughes. Johnson missed five jumping meets with a sprained ankle, but returned with a top-10 finish over Labor Day Weekend.
Meanwhile, the men's ski jumping program is regrouping following the retirements last spring of multi-champions and Olympians Alan Alborn and Clint Jones, according to Nordic Program Director Luke Bodensteiner. "It was tough to see them retire," he said, "but we're making the most of it as Alan and Clint have taken over as the top coaches with the [Park City-based] National Sports Foundation. They're bringing their recent international experience directly into our athlete development pipeline.
"They've come right off the World Cup and have a lot of credibility already with the athletes they're working with. We'll be watching closely as some of our younger athletes progress. We'll have kids competing selectively in FIS Cup [i.e., sub-World Cup and Continental Cup] events, and move them up as they start to win consistently at that level."
He pointed to a third-place finish by 18-year-old Anders Johnson (Alissa's younger brother) in a FIS Cup meet Sept. 1 in Oberwiesenthal, Germany, and said, "Results like that are encouraging, and show the value of competing at a level where you can be challenged, but also successful."