Park City ski jumpers take flight at nationals
3 Park City Ski & Snowboard alumni on the national team competed
Ski jumping national champions were crowned on the normal and large hills at the Utah Olympic Park on Friday and Saturday, and several Park City ski jumpers joined in the festivities.
Six Park City Ski & Snowboard ski jumpers and three alumni on the USA Nordic team competed in the normal hill event Friday morning. The alumni were led by 20-year-old Sam Macuga, who finished seventh in the 19-woman field. She started off with a solid 80.5-meter jump worth 89.5 points before a disappointing second jump at 72.5 meters dropped her to seventh.
“It’s fun to compete — it’s been a while — and have everyone here,” Macuga said. “There’s always a break in the summer before you compete again, and it’s kind of hard when nationals is the first event, but it’s kind of fun to see everybody.”
Park City jumper Josie Johnson was not too far behind, as the 14-year-old ended the competition in ninth place and second among the jumpers who were not on the senior national team. Rachael Haerter (12th) and Macey Olden (18th) rounded out the Park City jumpers on the women’s side.
For the men, Nordic combined national team member Jared Shumate was the highest-placing Park City jumper, finishing 11th out of 40 men. His two attempts went 88 and 77.5 meters, respectively, and he ended up 11.5 points behind a tie for 10th. Shumate sees himself as a better cross-country skier than a ski jumper, but he says it’s good practice as he tries to improve.
“It’s fun for Nordic combiners because we just kind of hop in the ski jumping national championships, and they don’t really affect our team too much, so it’s fun to compete without kind of the same pressure,” Shumate said. “We don’t get to do too many competitions in the summer, so especially to have the two biggest events of the year at home, it’s nice to be able to compete at home and kind of feel more comfortable.”
Fellow Nordic combined national team member Stephen Schumann finished 16th after a rough second jump only scored 65.5 points and sent him down the leaderboard. Root Roepke, 14, was the highest-placing male Park City Ski & Snowboard athlete in 28th, while Tyler Phillips, 15, and Ryder Olden, 14, ended the competition in 32nd and 39th, respectively.
While fog and an early start made the normal hill competition more difficult, Saturday’s event on the large hill was on a clear, warm morning.
Macuga was once again the highest-finishing Parkite in seventh place out of 13 athletes. She hit triple digits on her first jump with a 100-meter effort worth 72.5 points and was just 5.2 points behind sixth place. Johnson matched her ninth-place result from the normal hill event, while Haerter dropped to 13th.
The first jump of the large hill event was especially important for Shumate and Schumann because it would also decide their starting position for the roller skiing portion of the Nordic combined national championship on Saturday evening. Shumate placed higher in the large hill event in 11th place, just one spot ahead of Schumann, but Schumann’s first jump was longer, giving him a slight head start.
Annika Belshaw and Casey Larson took home gold in both events in their respective divisions. Nationals is the first event of the ski jumping season and provides athletes a competitive environment to prepare for the upcoming slate of competitions.
“(I) definitely got a lot of things I know I want to work on … and figure out what I want my head space to be like and then also just small things,” Macuga said. “Competition always brings out the best and the worst in your ski jumping, so it’s nice to know what things are going well and what things aren’t going well.”
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