Jessica Jerome, Christian Friberg win U.S. titles |

Jessica Jerome, Christian Friberg win U.S. titles

Though the facility looks strange without snow covering the ramps and landing areas, the ski jumpers participating in the U.S. Ski Jumping National Championships on Sunday at the Utah Olympic Park were jumping just as far as they did in the winter.

Jessica Jerome, a 2014 Olympian who took home her 11th U.S. title on Sunday, said the jumps are almost identical in the summer and the winter seasons.

"There isn’t much of a difference, aside from when you fall," she said. "It feels different and it hurts differently."

The air is also a little different, she added.

"In the winter, the air is colder and a little bit thicker," she said. "There’s more pressure in the air, as we call it. Summer can be tricky when it gets hot. But, as far as training, it’s virtually the exact same."

Jerome, who won the event with jumps of 121.5 and 122.5 meters, said she was feeling good on the large hill on Sunday.

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"Nationals is always timed right for me," she said. "Usually, I start to get a good rhythm this time of summer and it just so happens that Nationals is during this time. So I guess that’s good for me my stars align in late July/early August."

But, she added, she wished fellow Olympians Sarah Hendrickson and Lindsey Van, as well as U.S. teammate Abby Hughes, would have competed as well. All three were sidelined with injuries on Sunday.

"It was a great competition today," she said. "I would have liked my teammates to not all be injured, though, because I enjoy competing against them. We’re always pushing each other."

However, that opened the door for some younger jumpers to turn in solid performances. Nita Englund finished second in the field of nine female jumpers and Tara Geraghty-Moats took third place.

"It was really great to see some of the younger development girls step up and have some really awesome jumps," Jerome said. "I’m happy for them."

On the men’s side, 19-year-old Christian Friberg left the Utah Olympic Park on Sunday with his first U.S. title under his belt. Friberg, from St. Paul, Minnesota, jumped 130 and 126.5 meters to earn the victory.

He said on Sunday his hard training paid off.

"It’s definitely a step forward," he said. "Things have been progressing really well this summer. I’ve been training a lot harder and have gotten a lot of results from that."

He’s hoping this won’t be the last time he stands atop the podium at U.S. Nationals.

"It’s a good stepping stone for the future," he said. "I just had some good jumps, stayed relaxed and did what I’ve been working on. In the end, it just went well for me. It’s definitely cool and an adrenaline rush."

Canadian Matthew Rowley took second place in Sunday’s competition, but wasn’t eligible for the U.S. title. Nick Alexander took second place in the U.S., with Kevin Bickner rounding out the top-three American finishers.

Now the jumpers will turn their focus internationally, where they’ll train in Europe for a while before more competitions start.

"In a couple weeks, we’re heading back over to Slovenia and we’ll train in Kranj for a couple weeks," Friberg said. "Then hopefully we’ll do some Continental Cups at the end of August."

"It was great to compete [Sunday] and it’ll be interesting to see how I stack up internationally," Jerome added.

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