NEWS

It’s been a great summer here in Park City and the USA Nordic staff have been hard at work preparing for another big season. The leaves are changing, plans for the winter are starting to come into focus, and our athletes are wrapping up the summer competition season. The summer has seen mixed results, but overall there were plenty of highlights.

Kevin Bickner led the charge for Men’s Ski Jumping this summer, tying a career best seventh place finish at the Summer Grand Prix in Hakuba, Japan. The result was a repeat of a year earlier, but Kevin felt that his results in Japan were more consistent this year, which is always the goal. Kevin’s other highlights included a podium finish at the Continental Cup in Kranj, Slovenia earlier this summer, when he had the longest jump of the second round, boosting himself to third. Michael Glasder also had a strong summer that included a pair of top 30 finishes on the Grand Prix tour. “The summer has been progressing steadily for me and the hard work from myself along with the coaching staff is starting to pay off,” said Glasder, “I’m looking to finish the summer season strong.” Most recently, Michael posted a career best 28th place in Chaikovsky, Russia.

(Photo Credit – Romina Eggert)

Not to be outdone, Nordic Combined team leaders Bryan and Taylor Fletcher had some solid results of their own. Taylor has had the top result so far this summer, posting an 11th place in Oberwiestenthal, Germany, as well as another top 25 in Oberstdorf, Germany. While the jumping has been up and down, Taylor has shown that he’s as strong as ever on the race course. Taylor had race time ranks of second, third, and forth fastest, and currently wears the red bib as the fastest skier at the Summer Grand Prix series. Meanwhile, Bryan was able to finish in the top 30 three times, including 15th in Tschagguns, Austria, where he posted the sixth fastest time. In addition, Adam Loomis tied his best international result, finishing 28th in Oberstdorf in his only international action thus far.

(Photo Credit – Romina Eggert)

Women’s Ski Jumping has had a solid summer, including four women finishing in the top 30 in multiple Summer Grand Prix competitions. Sarah Hendrickson has continued to improve on her path to recovery and finished the Grand Prix series ranked 14th overall for the summer. Her top results included a pair of top tens: eighth in Courchevel, France, and ninth in Frenstat, Czech Republic. “I am really proud of the progress I have made,” said Hendrickson adding that she was “ready for this season to start.”

Abby Ringquist, who has had one of her best summers ever, said that ” the consistency in my jumps, and in my results is a huge confidence booster going into the season.” Her results have including three top 20’s, and Ringquist finished her summer with a ranking of 19th. Both Tara-Geraghty Moats and Nita Englund nabbed a pair of top 30 finishes, with Tara placing 27th in Courchevel and 24th in Frenstat, and Nita placing 30th in Frenstat and 26th in Chaikovsky.

(Photo Credit – FIS/Sandra Volk)

While the summer may not be over, it is winding down with only a few international competitions left before snow flies. The men’s Ski Jumping Summer Grand Prix will finish the first weekend in October, with events in Hinzenbach, Germany, and Klingenthal, Germany. The women’s Grand Prix has concluded for the summer, and the ladies will be home training for the fall. The Nordic Combined skiers have a pair of events in Planica, Slovenia, the last weekend in September, which will end their Summer Grand Prix season. On the domestic side, Lake Placid will host the LL Bean US Normal Hill Ski Jumping National Championships, as well as the LL Bean US Nordic Combined National Championships on October 7th and 8th for both men and women.

Thanks to all of you for your dedication to the sport and your support. These athletes couldn’t do what they do without the overwhelming support that our community gives to them.

USA Nordic Sport is pleased to announce that Sarah Anderson has joined the organization as Development Director, a role created to capitalize on the organization’s continued growth.

Anderson will focus on strengthening existing partnerships and as well as identifying new opportunities, developing strategic relationships, and assisting in the planning and execution of fundraising events.

While the position is new, it has always been part of the organization’s long-term plan, concurrent with the organization’s growth. As the organization has grown over the years, so have the needs and responsibilities that have typically fallen on the shoulders of dedicated staff and an extremely helpful board. 

USA Nordic Sport identified an opportunity to bring Anderson on board, after her involvement as a parent of two jumpers at the Park City Nordic Ski Club increased. Her extensive skills in organization and fundraising were evident in a variety of volunteer roles. In addition to serving as Co-President of the PTO at Jeremy Ranch Elementary School, she is a board member of JW Cotillion, and a member of the National Charity League, as well as a full time mother of two.

“Initially, a lack of understanding my daughter’s sport made me become more involved at a club level” Anderson said. “It just snowballed into volunteering my time on a larger scale.”

Anderson began volunteering in different roles at events. Her jobs included hill marking, hill preparation, equipment control, and as a starter at the top of the jump during competitions. After a year on the fundraising committee, Anderson began to take on more roles in the organization. Most recently, her part in the Dream 2018 fundraiser held in July identified a need that could be filled and Anderson’s position became permanent.

Anderson currently lives in Park City, UT with her husband Erik and their two children Sofie (12) and Reid (9).

(Kevin Bickner, Photo Credit – FIS Marketing)

Kevin Bickner tied his best result ever on Sunday morning when he finished in seventh place at the Ski Jumping Summer Grand Prix in Hakuba, Japan. The result came nearly a year to the day after Bickner had his first ever top ten finish, seventh at the Grand Prix in Hakuba last year.

“I feel like I put together two solid jumps,” Bickner said when asked how he felt about Sunday. “Not as exciting as last year, but more consistent.” Bickner had the longest jump in training and knew his potential going into the competition. Although he didn’t win, Bickner was pleased with his results, as he has been for most of the summer and said he was “looking forward to the next Grand Prix.”

The event was won by Junshiro Kobayashi, of Japan who edged out teammate Ryoyu Kobayashi. Anze Lanisek of Slovenia claimed third. Bickner was joined in the top 30 by Michael Glasder who earned himself his first top 30 since February.

Bickner led the team both days, finishing 23rd on Saturday ahead of Glasder and Casey Larson as well as Canadians Joshua Maurer and Mackenzie Boyd-Clowes. Kobayashi was also the winner on Saturday. Second place went to Kenneth Gangnes of Norway and third place was claimed by Klemens Muranka of Poland.

“We are still in the middle of our preparation for winter,” said an enthusiastic coach Uros “Balki” Vhrovec when asked how he felt about the overall performance of the team. He said the athletes have been “fighting” in every competition, but admitted there is still “room for improvements.” Balki also congratulated Kevin on his top ten result, noting the improvements that the team has made.

Halfway around the globe, the men’s Nordic Combined team wrapped up a stretch of competitions with back to back events in Oberstdorf, Germany.

Taylor Fletcher put in another great race on Friday and led the team in 25th place at the Summer Grand Prix in Oberstdorf. Brother, Bryan Fletcher, who skied together with Taylor for most of the race, crossed the line a few seconds later in 28th place. Ben Berend finished in 40th place and Jasper Good was 45th.

The day was won by Eric Frenzel of Germany. Second place was claimed by fellow German Johannes Rydzek, while Mario Seidl of Austria took third.

Saturday, which was the last Nordic Combined Summer Grand Prix for a month, was a little more difficult for the US team. Both Taylor Fletcher and Ben Berend were disqualified after the jumping. Neither were happy about the decision but both acknowledged the need to move on with Fletcher calling the day disappointing but the trip an “overall success.” Bryan Fletcher decided to rest some tendonitis he’s been battling rather than risk an injury down the road. But there was one skier who did finish on Saturday.

Adam Loomis tied his second best result with a 28th place on Saturday. Loomis, who has been waiting for his chance to compete took advantage of his opportunity and picked up a few Summer Grand Prix cup points as well when he turned in 14th fastest time. It was a bright note on a long day.

Saturday’s event was won by Mario Seidl. It was his second win of the Summer Grand Prix series. German skier Fabian Riessle edged out teammate Eric Frenzel in a final sprint. Both had wins earlier in the week.

(Nordic Combined SGP Oberstdorf, Photo Credit – Romina Eggert)

For now the Nordic Combined team will be resting and recovering before the next Summer Grand Prix in Planica, Slovenia in a month. Meanwhile, Bickner and the rest of the team will return to Europe to train for the next Ski Jumping Summer Grand Prix in Chaikovsky, Russia where the men will be joined by the Ladies’ Ski Jumping Summer Grand Prix.

Official Results:

Tschagguns 8-23-17

Oberstdorf 8-25-17

Oberstdorf 8-26-17

Hakuba 8-26-17

Hakuba 8-27-17

Taylor Fletcher had a strong start to the Summer Grand Prix series over the weekend, finishing 11th in the first individual event of the summer.

Fletcher started the day solid on the hill, jumping to 33rd position in the single round of competition on the K95. Content with his jump, but not with his bib, Fletcher set out in the cross country race with a single focus: climbing up the results page.

After setting a blistering pace and turning in the second fastest time of the day, Fletcher crossed the finish line in 11th place. The race capped a strong performance by the veteran, whose focus throughout the Grand Prix series will be “building momentum.”

“This weekend was a good step forward,” said Fletcher, who added that he was “excited to continue to build.”

Austrian skier Mario Seidel took home the first individual title of the summer series. Seidel had a competitive jump of 106 meters, sending him out in first place. A smart race by the Austrian allowed him to finish the day unchallenged at the top of the podium.

Second and third place were claimed by Germans Eric Frenzel and Fabian Riessle, respectively. The podium finishes were the second of the weekend for the two German skiers, who had finished second place a day earlier in the 2×7.5km team event that was held in Oberwiesenthal on Saturday.

Other American finishers included Bryan Fletcher in 20th, Ben Berend in 33rd, and Jasper Good in 34th place.

(Photo Credit: Romina Eggert)

A day earlier, the US had fielded two teams in the team event. US Team I, consisting of brothers Bryan and Taylor Fletcher was 12th overall. US Team II, consisting of Ben Berend and Jasper Good were 14th for the day.

The event was won by teammates Miroslav Dvorak and Tomas Portyk, the top team representing the Czech Republic. Second place was claimed by the German team of Frenzel and Reissle, while third was claimed by another German team made up of Jakob Lange and Vinzenz Geiger.

The next stop on the Summer Grand Prix tour will be another 10k Individual Gunderson this Wednesday, August 23, in Tschagguns, Germany.

Official Results:

Oberwiesenthal 8-19-17

Oberwiesenthal 8-20-17

A Development Pipeline Update

This spring we announced that we would be expanding our Junior National Teams for both Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined in an effort to improve the pipeline and to create a clearer path for aspiring athletes.  (Click here for the full article and here for criteria for this year’s team). Of the athletes who met the criteria, seven Jumpers and seven Nordic Combiners accepted the nomination to be part of the team. 

A key piece of the new format was consistent communication between USANS staff and regional coaches who have been designated as Junior National Team Liaisons.  These coaches include Colin Delaney and Mike Holland from the East, Scott Smith and Ken Ripp from Central, Karl Denney from Steamboat, Zak Hamill from Alaska, and Logan Oxford and Blake Hughes from Park City. A major focus of this communication has been a collaborative approach towards training plans. To accomplish this, National Team coaches created plans and programs that Junior National Team coaches can incorporate into their yearly plans in a manner that works for their athletes. Secondarily, there has been an emphasis on a common language for fundamental skills and a focus on consistency between coaches.  

After the training plans were created and communication established,  Junior National Team members were invited to three camps this summer and fall. These development camps are similar in many ways to the Fly Girls Program that has been so successful for WSJUSA over the past few years. As USANS and WSJUSA continue to work more closely together,  we feel that the pathways should be aligned as much as possible for both men and women.

The first of these camps was held in Steamboat Springs over the Fourth of July.  It was a week long camp with 24 athletes and five coaches.  These included the entire Nordic Combined National Team, both Junior National Teams, and a handful of additional athletes who were invited based on results at Junior Nationals in Norge this past winter. Many sessions were combined with all athletes together, and coaches shared insight with each other on the coaches’ stand and at video sessions off the hill.  There was even some time for a cookout with all the athletes, coaches, and families who were present, and some tubing on the Yampa.  There are definitely tweaks to be made for future camps, and we feel it is important to have even more sessions with all the athletes together, but overall it was a decent first try with a new format. (see pictures below)

The second leg of the triad is currently going on in Austria and Slovenia, and for Nordic Combined athletes who fall under the age limit, it will culminate at a Youth Cup in Obersdorf, Germany.  Right now Junior National Team members are training with National Team athletes, and also National Team coaches like Martin Bayer, Bine Norcic, Tomas Matura, Gašper Bartol, Clint Jones, and more.  From coaches reports thus far, big improvements are being are made.  The facilities that these athletes are getting the opportunity to train at, on both the jumping and XC  side, are second to none in places like Ramsau, Austria and Kranj and Planica, Slovenia.  Jared Schumate, a member of the Nordic Combined Junior National Team, stated that “we’re a new group training together with a new coach, but we jumped right into it in Ramsau, and I’d say we all made pretty solid improvements.”

This is all really positive, but there is another factor, and we have consistently heard from parents and athletes, that though these camps and trips are great, the costs associated can be a challenge and sometimes even a barrier.  At this point in time unfortunately USANS cannot fully support these costs, so the National Nordic Foundation (NNF) has stepped up in a huge way to help offset at least some of the costs for athletes and parents.  This summer they will contribute over $10,000 towards camp costs, and they have contributed additional amounts to camps for even younger athletes.  We want to say a huge thank you to them! We also want to remind our community that both Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined benefit from these allocations, but it is incumbent upon us as a community to make sure that we are part of raising these funds during the Drive for 25 Campaign that happens every fall, so stay tuned for more information.

The last leg of the camps will take place during Flaming Leaves in Lake Placid, NY.  The Junior National Team athletes are doing a great job and making lots of progress, and parents and coaches have been great to work with.  Thank you for being part of this as we continue to move things forward and take one step closer to being the best in the world.

(See more pictures below.)

Flaming Leaves Festival and the 2018 U.S. Normal Hill National Championships will be here before you know it. Click the link below to get all of the information you could possibly need. Plan now and relax so you and you’re athlete are ready to compete!

CLICK→2017 Flaming Leaves Festival and 2018 Normal Hill National Champs Info Sheet

Casey Larson (left), Will Rhoads (center), and Kevin Bickner (right) stand atop the podium at the 2018 US Large Hill National Championships. (USA Nordic Sport-Clint Jones)

PARK CITY, UT – Will Rhoads and Nita Englund both took home gold on Saturday morning at the 2018 US Large Hill National Championships. Though the competition was delayed at times due to wind, both Rhoads and Englund remained focused and resilient and, ultimately, rose to the challenge.

The day started off calm and cool, with the trail and first competitive rounds going off without a hitch. After a first round jump of 111.5 meters, Englund was holding onto a sliver of a lead over Women’s Ski Jumping USA teammates Abby Ringquist and Tara Geraghty-Moats, as well as NYSEF athlete Nina Lussi. Ringquist, Geraghty-Moats, and Lussi were all tied for second, only six tenths of a point behind Englund. The tight competition meant that the title was anyone’s to win, but Englund secured her position at the top. She soared 123.5 meters in the second round, the longest jump of the day in the women’s class, giving her a combined total of 207.5 points. She was joined on the podium by Abby Ringquist in second with 198.5 points, and Nina Lussi in third with 197 points. Both Ringquist and Lussi had jumps of 115.5 in the second round, but Ringquist broke the tie with slightly better style points.

As the sun began to beat down at Utah Olympic Park for the second round of the mens’ competition, the wind began to pick up and the athletes left at the top faced multiple delays.

US National Team member Bryan Fletcher was one of the first victims of the weather, being pulled on and off the bar multiple times before his second jump of 122 meters. The first big delay of the day meant that Fletcher, and all of the athletes remaining, had to wait nearly 15 minutes before the round continued. A few jumpers later, Mike Glasder recorded the longest jump of the day at 135.5 meters. However, a hand drag caused him to slip out of contention for the podium. The jump prompted the jury to announce a 30 minute hold. Rather than wait out the wind and hope for the best, however, the remaining athletes at the top of the hill all agreed go from a lower speed to counter the wind.

Casey Larson, who sat fourth after the first round, was the first to go from the lower gate and had his “best jump of the week,” soaring 131.5 meters. The jump was enough to move Larson up to second place. But the battle for the title really came down to the last two jumpers on the hill. Kevin Bickner, sitting in second after a first round jump of 130.5 meters, struggled as wind conditions changed and dropped to third after jumping 118 meters in his second jump.

Rhoads, who lead after the first round, was the last competitor on the hill. A local skier who has taken home the title each of the last two years, Rhoads was steadfast and knew exactly what he needed to do. The jump of 123.5 meters was not as far as his first round, but it was enough to keep him in contention. When style points were added to his distance points, Rhoads once again found himself on top as the 2018 US Large Hill National Champion.

The competition on the Large Hill capped off a week of competitions that saw over 150 athletes come together in Park City for the 19th Annual Jindro Mayer Springer Tournee. In what has become the largest event held annually in North America, athletes from as far as Alaska and Canada spent the week testing, training, and competing together under the hot Utah sun. The event, which has grown every year since its inception, was a testament to the growth that Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined has seen in recent years in North America.

2018 U.S. Ski Jumping Large Hill National Championships

Men

Gold – Will Rhoads (USA Nordic/Park City, UT)

Silver – Casey Larson (USA Nordic/Cary, Il)

Bronze – Kevin Bickner (USA Nordic/Wauconda, Il)

Women

Gold – Nita Englund (Women’s Ski Jumping USA/Florence, WI)

Silver – Abby Ringquist (Women’s Ski Jumping USA/Park City, UT)

Bronze – Nina Lussi (New York Ski Education Foundation/Lake Placid, NY)

Results:

2018 US Large Hill National Championships

*Canadian Taylor Henrich topped the women’s field with 226.5 points, while countryman Josh Maurer was third overall in the men’s competition with 245.8 points. While their results are reflected in the overall standings, both were ineligible to receive awards due to the fact that the competition was a National Championship.

Check back with us soon for a more detailed look at the 19th Annual Jindro Mayer Springer Tournee with insights and photos!

PARK CITY, UT – USA Nordic Sport added another familiar face to their staff earlier this month: former Nordic Combined athlete Alex Glueck, to serve as Field Marketing and Communications Manager. This new position is intended to increase focus on fundraising opportunities, including a growing merchandise program, as well as day-to-day media relations and communications. 

Glueck spent nearly a decade as a member of the National Team from 2000 through 2009. Though more familiar on the Continental Cup tour, Glueck’s career included a handful of World Cup appearances, as well as a Silver Medal at the 2002 Junior World Championships in Schonach, Germany. After leaving skiing in 2009, Glueck moved to Denver, CO, where he studied Philosophy and English Literature at the University of Colorado. Prior to joining the USA Nordic staff, Glueck worked in sales and the restaurant industry.

“When I finished skiing I was burnt out and I needed a change,” said Glueck. “I always missed skiing though, and when Bill called me out of the blue one day, we discussed a full-time position with USA Nordic.”

After seven years away from the team, Glueck is excited to be involved in the sport he cares so much about once again. His experience in management and customer service lends itself to the business and marketing side of his role, while his education gives Glueck the tools he needs to help USA Nordic go from a niche sport to mainstream, in the eyes of the sports media. 

“I’ve always wanted to come back to this sport and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to help this team be as great as we all know it can be.”

Glueck now lives in Heber City, UT, with his wife Molly Brooks and their two dogs. He can be reached at alex@usanordic.org.

PARK CITY, UT – Last weekend in Lausanne, Switzerland, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced the addition of  Women’s Nordic Combined at the upcoming 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games being held in Lausanne. The inclusion of the women’s event is part of a greater effort by the IOC towards gender equity that has seen the inclusion of more women’s fields and mixed fields over the past decade.

The news comes less than two months after USA Nordic Sport announced the inclusion of a Women’s Nordic Combined event at the 2018 US National Championships being held October 7 in Lake Placid, NY.

“This is a really exciting development in line with FIS and USA Nordic’s efforts to fast track Women’s Nordic Combined,” said Executive Director Bill Demong of USA Nordic. “With a great crop of young talent in the United States, we are excited to have this event showcased on the world stage so soon, and we are looking forward to continuing to develop opportunities for young women eligible for the Games, like the FIS Youth Cup trip planned for August.”

The announcement was one of several exciting developments that came at the conclusion of the meeting of the Executive Board of the IOC. Other decisions made at the meeting included the addition of an “innovative” mixed three on three ice hockey tournament, a women’s doubles event in luge, and, finally, ski mountaineering will be included for the first time in Lausanne.

You may remember a childhood or school game called “telephone.”   Kids get in a circle and pass a message from one to another.  After the message has travelled around the room, the original message is unrecognizable or completely wrong.

I feel like this describes being a relatively new parent to ski jumping with no ski jumping experience. We hear a lot of theories, but never know which ones are true, and we don’t know what we don’t know.

This spring a group of parents from Blackhawk decided to try and improve the knowledge of both athletes and parents.  We reached out to Jed Hinkley at USANS to see if he had any thoughts on a coach who might be willing to help for a few weeks to create a consistent approach for both kids and parents alike. After discussion about domestic coaches and national team coaches, Jed Hinkley connected us with Kimmo Yliriesto. Kimmo was on the World Cup circuit for many years and has been coaching ski jumping for the past six years. Kimmo also had some Midwest cred, holding the current record at Norge and winning Iron Mountain.

What sounded like a long shot turned into an opportunity for Central. It also showed how USANS and small clubs can work together for the greater good. Kimmo agreed to help, and instead of working with just Blackhawk we decided that it would be great if athletes from across Central could participate in camps so the benefit was division wide and more clubs, coaches, and athletes could work together toward a common approach to jumping. Ishpeming and St. Paul were the first to raise their hands. We now had three camps for Kimmo to coach and share his insights. Each clubs would organize their own camp and provide different opportunities, and Kimmo would help athletes and coaches who participated in the camps, allowing Kimmo to spend three weeks coaching in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan. Other athletes, parents, and coaches also volunteered to help with activities off the hill and some Nordic Combined sessions as well.

The Ishpeming camp was a big success, with over 25 jumpers attending! Most of us had never been to Ishpeming before, and it was great. Gary Rasmussen has done an excellent job over the past year, and now has over 20 kids showing up for practice during the summer, and even more this past winter, and Dick Ziegler is doing an amazing job on the Cross Country side. It was at Ishpeming that we first noticed Kimmo’s coaching style.

Everyone was evaluated, and almost everyone was placed on the 10-meter or 20-meter jump. No one was allowed to go to the 40-meter jump despite several jumpers being in the appropriate age range. No amount of persuading by the kids would change Kimmo’s mind.

The same thing happened at the Blackhawk practice the following week. Kimmo kept everyone on the 15 meter for the first week. Kids had to earn the right to go to 30 or 60 meter jumps, which was based on skill, not just their ability to slide off the jump.

I can tell you as a parent, I silently questioned his logic. I wanted my kids jumping the bigger hills and felt like they would not benefit as much from the smaller jumps. However, I kept my doubts to myself.

The St. Paul camp was no different. Dave and Sue Swanson did a great job putting on the camp. St. Paul has two hills (one 20 meter, the other is a 46 meter) with plastic. On the first day, only one jumper was allowed to leave the 20 meter hill. Several parents voiced their frustration to me, but I asked them to have faith.

Next was the Blackhawk camp. Clint Jones, USANS Team Director, joined our camp to coach with Kimmo and our local coaches. Thirty-two jumpers from 10 different clubs attended the camp. It was great to see 100% participation from Central clubs.

What did we learn from Kimmo’s three weeks in the U.S. and Clint’s visit?

Lesson One: Kimmo likes to shop. He never met an outlet mall he didn’t like.

Lesson Two: You should CONSISTENTLY go to K with good form and a telemark before expecting to move up, in addition to possessing skills like a balanced in-run, a take-off where you use your legs and push down, and a solid flight. This means every jump is good — not one out of five. If European jumpers do indeed have an advantage over American jumpers, it is their discipline to get close to perfect before moving up.

Kimmo kept the kids on the largest hill they could jump well. For many kids, this meant staying on the 15 or 20 meter jump all weekend.  Age did not matter; jumping skill is what mattered. Every time a kid jumps a hill with bad form or is scared, they build that into their muscle memory. It makes them more likely to repeat the same mistake and to make a habit of those bad mistakes. As Clint said, “90% of a coach’s job is undoing the bad habits jumpers have picked up over the years.”

It takes hundreds of successful small jumps in order to have successful big jumps. Hundreds of successful small jumps build muscle memory, confidence, judgment, and skill in different conditions. Kids should be absolutely killing it on a small hill before moving up. I think this was Kimmo’s main message.

Lesson Three:  Is related to lesson two, the smartest jumpers and coaches are moving down to improve. Yes, you shouldn’t move up until you have it right, but you should also move down again if problems develop. Don’t try to work out problems on the largest jumps. Moving down to improve your jumping is a smart move in almost all cases. You can unlearn bad habits or learn new skills where you are more confident and comfortable.

Kimmo told a story of going back to a 60-meter jump to work out a problem after he had been jumping 120-meter hills for years. He spent three months trying to work it out. He came back a stronger jumper than ever before.  We watched this happen with multiple jumpers over the three-week period.  Hill size should be flexible, moving up and down as needed, and just because you move up to a larger hill does not mean that you exclusively jump that hill or that you are a larger hill jumper.

Lesson Four: USANS wants to support families and clubs. We asked a lot of Jed, and he delivered both Kimmo and Clint to our club in an effort to improve the level of athletes and coaches and to create a common approach to coaching. Clint did a great job with both jumpers and coaches. Reach out to Jed if you need anything; he is there to help.

Lesson Five: Get creative to find solutions that work for your group or club.  Three clubs put on three successful camps in three weeks. Seventy-one jumpers from 10 different clubs participated in the three camps. Ten coaches attended two coach training sessions with Clint Jones.

Central is very different from clubs like Park City or Steamboat. Having small clubs several hours away from each other is the norm. Central’s unique structure needs unique and creative solutions. When we all work together, we can do great things for our kids and coaches while making it affordable for everyone.  USANS teaming with small clubs allowed us to do something new and different.

Lesson Six: Keep it fun. Kimmo went to a lot effort to keep it fun. If kids aren’t having fun, they may find another sport.  We will work harder in the future to make it fun for the kids. Water balloon fights in St. Paul and the dry-land survivor game at Blackhawk were big hits with the kids.

Lee Hull and Jed Hinkley contributed to this article.

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