Flaming Leaves and Normal Hill National Championships this Weekend!

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Soaring on Lake Placid’s K90. Image credit WhiteFace/Lake Placid

LAKE PLACID, NY (Oct. 6, 2016) – National titles will be on the line this weekend at the U.S. Ski Jumping Championships Sunday, Oct. 9 at Lake Placid’s Olympic Ski Jumping Complex on the HS100 meter hill. The event is a part of Lake Placid’s traditional Flaming Leaves Festival with a warm-up competition on Saturday.

The normal hill U.S. Championship follows on the heels of the large hill event held this past July in Park City, UT where Will Rhoads (Park City, UT) and Jessica Jerome (Park City, UT) took titles.

The men’s and women’s titles are expected to be hotly contested. Returning to defend their first-time U.S. titles from a year ago will be the Norge Ski Club’s Mike Glasder (Cary, IL) and Nita Englund (Florence, WI) of the Kiwanis Ski Club in Iron Mountain, MI.

Rhoads, who won his second straight large hill title this summer, is coming off a top-five finish in a FIS Continental Cup in Klingenthal, Germany last weekend, as well as a point-scoring Grand Prix. Norge Ski Club jumper Kevin Bickner (Cary, IL) has also had a good summer with a pair of top-10 finishes on the FIS Summer Grand Prix. A wild card could be teen Casey Larson (Cary, IL), the bronze medalist from the large hill U.S. Ski Jumping Champs who went on to score Continental Cup points in Finland in August.

The women’s field will see a battle between Women’s Ski Jumping USA veterans Englund and Tara Geraghty-Moats (W. Fairlee, VT), both of whom have been training in Slovenia this summer. Local favorite Nina Lussi (Lake Placid, NY), who has also been in Slovenia, is also expected to be a contender after taking silver a year ago.

Englund had a strong weekend in September at the FIS Summer Grand Prix in Chaikovsky, Russia with a pair of top 10s, including a fourth-place finish. Geraghty-Moats also had a solid event in Russia with two top 15s.

The Flaming Leaves Festival, which begins at 10 a.m. ET both days, features a wide array of live music plus a barbecue and a full weekend of fun mixed with ski jumping. U.S. Championships in ski jumping are traditionally held during the summer and fall on all-season jumps, such as Lake Placid. Ski jumping is one of the few winter sports that can be conducted in summer with virtually the same type of competition as in winter.

The Championship is jointly organized by the New York Ski Educational Foundation (NYSEF), the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA).

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HIGHLIGHTS

  • Lake Placid HS100 meter Olympic ski jump will be the site of the U.S. Ski Jumping Championships normal hill event Sunday, Oct. 9.
  • The U.S. Championship is a showcase event of the Oct. 8-9 Flaming Leaves Festival with top ski jumpers from around American vying for U.S. Championship normal hill titles.
  • A close competition is expected for both men and women.
  • Mike Glasder and Nita Englund are back to defend titles. Glasder will be challenged by large hill titlist Will Rhoads and Kevin Bickner, while Englund will see challenges from teammates Tara Geraghty-Moats and hometown favorite Nina Lussi.

TOP SKI JUMPERS

MEN

Will Rhoads, 21, Park City, UT (Park City Nordic) – Will Rhoads won his second straight large hill U.S. title this past July on his home hill in Park City. Just last weekend he was fifth in a FIS Continental Cup in Klingenthal, Germany – his second best finish ever in the stepping stone tour to the World Cup. A day later he was 24th in a FIS Summer Grand Prix – his first point-scoring finish at the World Cup level.

Kevin Bickner, 20, Wauconda, IL (Norge Ski Club) – Kevin Bickner continued his move up the international ladder this summer with two top-10 FIS Summer Grand Prix finishes, including a seventh in Hakuba, Japan and eighth in Einsiedeln, Switzerland against strong World Cup-caliber fields. He finished second to Rhoads in the large hill U.S. Championships in July.

Mike Glasder, 27, Cary, IL (Norge Ski Club) – Mike Glasder will return to defend the first-time U.S. title he won last year in Lake Placid.

Casey Larson, 17, Cary, IL (Norge Ski Club) – Teen Casey Larson broke through with a bronze medal in the large hill U.S. Championship in July, then scored his first-ever Continental Cup points with a 26th in Kuopio, Finland a few weeks later. Last season was pivotal with a sixth-place finish in the Youth Olympic Games at Lillehammer, Norway.

WOMEN

Nita Englund, 24, Florence, WI (Kiwanis Ski Club) – Wisconsin-native Nita Englund moved up to become an international contender two seasons ago. A year ago she finished third in the FIS Summer Grand Prix. This summer she based her training in Slovenia, missing the large hill U.S. Championship in July. She grabbed a pair of top 10s, including a fourth, in the Chaikovsky, Russia Grand Prix.

Tara Geraghty-Moats, 23, W. Fairlee, VT (Lebanon Outing Club) – Former biathlete Tara Geraghty-Moats came back to ski jumping last season in a big way, working her way onto the World Championship team and scoring a top 20 and turning in a top-10 World Cup finish in her debut season. She took bronze in the large hill U.S. Championships in August.

Nina Lussi, 22, Lake Placid, NY (New York Ski Educational Foundation) – Nina Lussi grew up on the Olympic jumps in Lake Placid. A year ago she took gold on the large hill and silver on her home hill for the normal hill U.S. Championships. She is returning home after training this summer in Slovenia. In September she scored a pair of top-10 finishes at a FIS Cup in Germany where she a part of the Fly Girls summer tour.

QUOTES

Clint Jones, USA Nordic men’s domestic coach
This weekend should be very close on the men’s side. Kevin Bickner, Will Rhoads, Casey Larson and Mike Glasder have all had a great summer of training and competition. It will be interesting to have them all in Lake Placid competing against each other. Kevin and Will are the favorites to take the win, but Mike is the defending U.S. champ on the same hill, so he will be a threat as well. We also can’t count out Casey. He has been training at home in Illinois for the last month and could surprise the rest of the team!

Will Rhoads’ finishes last weekend were definitely a confidence booster for him. He missed a majority of the summer competitions because of a wrist injury, so it was important for him to have some solid results before the start of the winter. The fifth place in the Continental Cup is his second best career result. But, the following day in the Summer Grand Prix event he placed 24th, which was probably equally important. This was his first time scoring World Cup-level points, so, it was a great weekend for him.

Alan Alborn, Women’s Ski Jumping USA domestic coach
This year Women’s Ski Jumping USA will have a small field represented in Lake Placid, but some noteworthy athletes including Nita Englund and Tara Geraghty-Moats who are coming home from training in Europe all summer and just fresh off of the summer Grand Prix in Russia with promising results. 
Nina Lussi will be also joining the crew after spending all summer training with the club in Slovenia. She was most recently at the FIS cup in Hinterzarten, Germany with the Fly Girls team. It will be a strong competition on the historic Lake Placid jumps.

Robert Lazzaroni, USSA Nordic Program Director
The Flaming Leaves Festival is a spectacular time to be on the Olympic jumps in Lake Placid. Both the top U.S. men and women have had strong results this summer and we expect a close competition and a fun festival weekend for fans.

Ted Blazer, President and CEO, Olympic Regional Development Authority
We’re extremely happy to be hosting these ski jumping national championships. Lake Placid has had a long and proud history in the sport. Because of Lake Placid’s commitment to the sport and its facilities, we’re excited to see the continued growth in ski jumping and the development of these athletes, many of whom may someday compete in the Olympics.

U.S. SKI JUMPING CHAMPIONSHIPS SCHEDULE
Flaming Leaves Festival – Lake Placid, NY
Saturday, Oct. 8
10:00 a.m. – Flaming Leaves Festival opens
12:00 p.m. – Trial Round NYSEF HS100 meter USSA ski jumping competition
1:00 p.m. – NYSEF HS100 meter USSA ski jumping competition
Afternoon – Live music

Sunday, Oct. 9
9:30 am – Trial round HS100 meter U.S. Ski Jumping Championships
10:00 a.m. – Flaming Leaves Festival opens
11:00 a.m. – U.S. Championship HS100 meter competition round (two jumps) begins
Afternoon – Flaming Leaves Festival continues featuring live music, barbecue and more

Courtesy of Tom Kelly and USSA
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