"Today went well. I started jumping well a couple of weeks ago," Van said. "It's nice as I was struggling for a couple of years. It was nice to feel the rhythm of ski jumping again."
Sixteen years ago, a pre-teen Van sat down with her parents and they decided together to move her to Lake Placid to train with her longtime coach, Larry Stone. She stayed with Stone and his family for two years while her hometown jumps back in Park City were rebuilt in preparation for the 2002 Salt Lake Games.
"It feels terrific to be back in Lake Placid and for us to show the talent that the U.S. has to offer," Van said. "Lake Placid will always hold a special place in my heart."
Van also won Saturday's open competition on the 90-meter hill organized by the New York Ski Educational Foundation. Jerome was second and local favorite Lussi took a podium spot with a third-place finish.
"It was nice to do this in front of the home crowd," said Lussi, who recently graduated from a winter sports school in Staams, Austria, and then moved to Park City to train full time with her teammates on the Visa Women's Ski Jumping Team.
Sarah Hendrickson, reigning world champion and 2013 large hill national champion, sat out the weekend's events while recovering from surgery required after an August knee injury.
The Visa Team is now headed to training camp in Europe and then back for a short stint in Park City before heading to Lillehammer, Norway, for the World Cup opener on Dec. 6 (mixed-team event) and Dec. 7 (individual event). There are seven World Cup stops (14 events) before the start of the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
The U.S. Olympic Trials for ski jumping takes place Dec. 29 in Park City; the winner gets an automatic spot on the Olympic Team. Remaining Olympic Team members (up to three more) will be announced mid-January.