Hot air: Park City hosts nordic championships in dead of summer | ParkRecord.com

Hot air: Park City hosts nordic championships in dead of summer

Matthew Piper, OF THE RECORD STAFF

While fans baked in the hot summer sun, Park City’s Brett Camerota and Lindsey Van had ice in their veins during last weekend’s U.S. Nordic Championships at Utah Olympic Park and Soldier Hollow.

Van won both women’s jumping events on the K90 and the K120 jumps for her 14th and 15th national titles, while Camerota scored a U.S. Nordic Combined Championship to go with runner-up finishes on the men’s normal- and large-hill ski jumps. U.S. Olympic ski jumper Peter Frenette, from New York, won both men’s jumping competitions.

In nordic combined, athletes are scored for performances in both ski jumping and cross-country skiing. In the individual gundersen scoring system, an athlete’s result in the jumping round determines his starting position in the cross-country round. In summer competitions, athletes use roller skis for the cross-country round.

Camerota, a silver medalist in Vancouver in the nordic combined team relay, said he wanted to finish on the podium in all three of the weekend’s events, but he wasn’t expecting to win anything. "I’ve jumped better than them in a World Cup," he said of U.S. teammates Billy Demong and Todd Lodwick, "but I’ve never beat them in a full competition."

That all changed on Sunday evening at Soldier Hollow, when he held onto a 21-second lead he earned with a huge K120 jump of 134 meters. Lodwick, a strong cross-country performer in World Cup events and reigning nordic combined world champion on the normal hill, started 1:14 back in third for the roller-ski portion, but caught Brett’s twin brother Eric from 53 seconds down by the second lap.

Olympic and world large-hill champion Bill Demong also caught Eric Camerota to take third, no small achievement considering Demong has been racing on his bike for Cole Sport and told the U.S. Ski Team (USST) he hasn’t roller skied much this summer.

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For his part, Spillane tore his ACL and MCL while jumping off a cliff in Lake Placid, N.Y., and will begin rehabilitating soon, according to a release from USST.

Eric Camerota, Brett’s twin, took fourth in all three events. He injured his knee a year ago at the Park City Nordic Ski Club’s (PCNSC) Festival of Flight summer ski-jumping event, causing him to miss out on an Olympic run. "He was bummed, because it would have been nice to at least get on one podium," said Brett.

Many of the team’s younger members have been training locally since the Olympics, Brett Camerota said, while the older, more family-oriented Lodwick, Demong, and triple Olympic silver medalist Johnny Spillane "do their own thing."

"After the Olympics was over, it felt different in training," he said. "I took confidence from the Olympics and put it into the training, and really started to trust the training."

The Camerota twins have been perfecting their form with Olympic ski jumpers Anders Johnson and Frenette in recent months. Brett said Frenette has "a little bit of an edge," among the four of them, but they are very close.

Brett Camerota conceded that Sunday’s nordic combined event favored a strong jumper, putting the win within reach for the former PCNSC member. A typical 10K in the winter lasts about 25 minutes, while Sunday’s lasted only 21. "I’m still skiing pretty well," he said. "Todd’s definitely faster. I held them off just enough, though."

Unlike Brett Camerota, collecting a national title was a familiar experience for Van. Still, she relished the rare opportunity to compete on her training grounds.

"I’m in school right now, so that was extra nice," said the University of Utah exercise sports science major. "Everybody jumped quite well. It was really close and competitive. I think the team is looking really strong."

The women’s events were loaded at the top with Parkites who train year-round at the UOP jumps. Van was followed by Sarah Hendrickson and Abby Hughes, respectively, in the normal hill on Friday, and then by Jessica Jerome and Hendrickson in the large hill. Hendrickson also celebrated her 16th birthday on Sunday.

There could be as many as five slots available for the U.S. team at world championships in Oslo, Norway, in February. "The door’s wide open right now," said Van, who is assured a spot as the defending world champion.

Anders’ sister Alissa was fourth on the large hill to complement her brother’s third in both jumping events. Park City’s Nick Hendrickson landed eighth in Sunday’s nordic combined championships.

The U.S. Nordic Combined Championships have been held in the summer for the past three years. Lake Placid, N.Y., played host for two years, but Park City features a K120 jump for large hill competition for the summer, and was chosen as the site for 2010. Brett Camerota said he didn’t know if the event would remain in summer for a fourth year.

"There’s definitely mixed feelings on having our nationals in the middle of summer," he said. "I like it. I know a lot of people were saying it was their first time seeing summer jumping."

Van said the jumps fairly replicate the snow experience, with the only difference being their unwavering consistency.

"Honestly, it’s not that much different. There are no variations in the snow, so it’s more consistent. There are no bumps or snow cookies on the landing."

The weekend also featured the official unveiling of USA Ski Jumping – a new support organization for the men’s branch of the sport – on Friday. On Saturday, the 12th annual Festival of Flight brought competitors from around North America for a range of jumps.

Titles in those events went to Hana Schrock (women’s K10 club), Greyson Scharffe (men’s K10 club), Nicole Maurer (women’s K20 club), Decker Dean (men’s K20 club), Raven Yip (women’s K40 club), Adrian Hannigan (men’s K40 club), Taylor Henrich (women’s K64) and Dusty Korek (men’s K64).