Nita Englund finishes third in Grand Prix |

Nita Englund finishes third in Grand Prix

USSA News Bureau,

American Nita Englund (Florence, Wisconsin) came away from the final two weekends of FIS Ski Jumping Summer Grand Prix with a big step forward in her international career, taking fifth in Sunday’s finale to finish third overall. Nina Lussi (Lake Placid, New York) was 21st, her best finish and fourth straight points-scoring result against the World Cup field.

Japan’s Sara Takahashi made it a perfect sweep with her win in the Olympic-bid city of Almaty on Sunday. Teammate Yuki Ito was second in the event, and the Grand Prix.

In the opening round, Englund went 94.5 meters but stood seventh, behind a towering 103.5-meter effort by Takahashi on the HS 106.0 meter hill. Her second jump was shorter at 92.5 meters, but was enough to move her into fifth by two points over France’s Julia Clair. Takahashi won with 237.1 points. Englund netted 212.2.

Lussi went 80.0 meters in the first round to stand 24th, moving up to 21st with an 84.0-meter ride in the final round. It was her best international finish and left her 26th in the Grand Prix with just four of the five events, having missed the opener in Courchevel, France, in August.

"I was relatively happy with how today went," said Lussi. "My second jump was more on my current level and I now know where I stand in relation to the rest of the World Cup. I’m looking forward to more ski jumping-specific training in Central Europe and getting set for the winter. The team dynamic is good and we are definitely on the right track."

"Nita had great takeoffs today — like yesterday’s first round [where she had the longest ride]," said Coach Vasja Bajc. "It’s just that today’s transition into the flight phase wasn’t as smooth. She worked better on landing today what gave her good style points."

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"We have to be happy with both weekend’s results," said Bajc. "But on the other hand, we are aware that we have a lot of hard work waiting on us until the start of winter. We’d like to have more teammates here so that the rivalry would be higher and training sessions would be higher quality."

One of the highlights of the two final weekends of the Grand Prix in Russia and Kazakhstan was Englund’s second-place finish on Saturday.

"Saturday’s comp was not easy due the tricky wind over the hill," said Bajc. "Nita had a great first-round jump — longest of the round and maybe one of the best since I’ve been with the team. But she needs to work on her landing. This technique point is what I look for daily from her and it is just a matter of time and she will show it."

Lussi will now join Englund at their Slovenian training base for a few weeks. The two will train together with Bajc before returning to Lake Placid for the annual Flaming Leaves Festival Oct. 10-11, which includes the normal hill event of the U.S. Ski Jumping Championships. Lussi won the large hill title in August in Park City. Englund missed that event to train in Slovenia, but is returning back to the U.S. to compete in the Championships.