National champions crowned in ski jumping, Nordic combined at Utah Olympic Park
The 20th annual Jindro Mayer Springer Tournee culminated with the U.S. ski jumping and Nordic combined national championships at the Utah Olympic Park on Sunday, where Americans Tara Gereghty Moats and Taylor Fletcher won the Nordic Combined competition and two Canadians won the ski jumping competition.
In ski jumping, Canadians Mackenzie Boyd-Clowes and Abigail Strate took first overall, which Fletcher said was not unheard of for a national championship competition.
“I think I was the Canadian champion in, maybe, 2009,” he said at USA Nordic’s Summer Soiree last Wednesday.
That’s because the two teams train closely together.
Boyd-Clowes said he has been visiting Park City to compete since he was young, and has known many U.S. ski jumpers throughout his competitive jumping career.
He trains with the U.S. team as part of a partnership between the two North American organizations, partly because Canada has no other world-cup level male ski jumpers.
“In the Nordic world, the U.S. and Canada are seen as the underdogs that don’t necessarily get the spotlight that a lot of underdogs get,” ski jumper Abby Ringquist said last Wednesday. “We’ve teamed up with Mackenzie because there isn’t really a program for him, and with USA Nordic helping him, I think it could help grow the awareness for the sport in Canada.”
She said the two nations’ women’s teams also work together closely while in Europe.
Boyd-Clowes mentioned the connection after taking first place on Sunday.
“Competition today was good,” he said in a press release. “Kevin (Bickner) and I have been battling against each other for a few years now, and sometimes, like yesterday, he’s on top and sometimes I’m on top. We had a fair competition and far jumps and loads of fun.”
Ringquist summarized the relationship between the two national teams by saying, “We are team North America, and we’re just trying to do the best we can and use the best resources we can.”
Kevin Bickner finished first among Americans in the men’s competition, followed by Casey Larson and Decker Dean.
Nita Englund led the Americans in the women’s competition, followed by Tara Gereghty-Moats and Annika Belshaw.
In Nordic combined, Tara Gereghty-Moats finished first in the women’s competition, followed by Alexa Brabeck and Tess Arnone.
Taylor Fletcher finished first in the men’s competition, followed by Ben Loomis and Jasper Good.
For Gereghty-Moats, the win was bittersweet. Women’s Nordic combined was scheduled to be a sport in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, but was dropped, purportedly due to a small competitive field.
Gereghty-Moats has been hoping for the inclusion of the sport since she was young, but said its removal from the 2022 Winter Games was no surprise. For now, the U.S. champion will continue to compete in the eight continental cup competitions, and will continue to pursue ski jumping.
“I was really disappointed when I heard the news, but I also knew it was a possible future,” she said of the International Olympic Committee’s July announcement. “So I planned for both futures and I have World Championships (in ski jumping) to look forward to, I have the World Cup in both 2019 and 2020, and I think that I definitely can realistically try and get a crystal globe, which is pretty motivating.”
In a press release, Ben Loomis said the Nordic combined team was coming off of a good training season and was looking forward to more competitions over the summer.
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