Taking Flight | ParkRecord.com

Taking Flight

Ski jumping in August may sound as likely as waterskiing in December, but in Park City it’s nothing new. For the 10th year, North America’s most promising youth jumpers gathered for the annual Springer Tournee. The event was a four-day showcase of youth from Park City, Lake Placid, Calgary and various locales around the Midwest. The jumping took place at the Utah Olympic Park on wet, plastic-covered jumps, which simulated snow.

The Springer Tournee featured jumpers ages 5 through 25 competing on the Park’s K10 through K120 jumps. The Springer Tournee was also a Super Tour event, where top jumpers compete for spots on the money-making ski jumping tour that will continue through the spring.

Some of the highlights included Friday, when top jumpers took off from the K90 under the lights at the Park on Saturday. This was a first for Anders Johnson, who has competed in thousands of competitions including the Olympics in Turin, Italy.

"It made it kind of interesting," he said.

On Saturday, They mixed in a little summer Nordic combined action with roller ski and running races in place of the cross-country events.

In international competitions, many of the higher-level jumpers are used to competing together, but the Springer Tournee allows the athletes from each of the various ski jumping clubs in the U.S. to test their skills against each other and their Canadian counterparts. In the elite male competition, jumpers from East Coast and the Central divisions finish near the top on a consistent basis, which is in contrast to the women, where the top finishers are almost always Park City natives.

The event wrapped up Sunday with the "Longest Standing Award" a monetary prize given to the longest single jump off the K120. The cash — $120 and 13 Mexican pesos to be exact went to Salt Laker Josh Hanson. Hanson soared high above the K120 on his winning jump and stuck a difficult landing.

`"I got really high up," Hanson said. "I was probably 30 feet up, but when you’re looking down, it seems more like 300 feet."

The 19-year has been jumping with the NSF for year and at age 19, hopes that his skills can someday carry him to the Olympics. Easier said than done, though, it seems. According to Johnson, without the backing of the U.S. Ski Team, male ski jumpers must find their own sponsors and collect their own money to cover travel, lodging and training fees. Not the easiest task for a bunch of guys that are all in their late teens and early 20s, which is why the SuperTour is so important. The Super circuit allows the top male jumpers to earn a little money as they travel to different ski jumping venues.

"It’s important to make that money," Johnson said. "We pay for everything."

The points from four competitive jumps or two from each day are all added together to determine the top six places. Those six then continue on in the SuperTour, which will head to Chicago in September for their next competition and then on to Lake Placid in October.

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