Springer Tournee develops jumpers
The 17th annual Springer Tournee has been in full swing this week at the Utah Olympic Park, with ski jumpers and Nordic combined athletes of all ages flocking to Park City for three days of training and three days of competitions.
On Saturday, the U.S. Ski Jumping Championships and U.S. Nordic Combined Championships will be held on the HS-134 large hill. But, before Saturday’s competitions, the 145 jumpers went through a week of training and contests on smaller hills.
"The first day was open training on all the hills," Utah Olympic Park Nordic Program Manager Robert Lazzaroni said. "Tuesday was a very big day — we call it National Testing Day. We test all the kids year after year so we have a group benchmark, so like at 11 years old, we can say, ‘Here’s where they should be on the high jump and the long jump.’"
Olympic jumpers, world champions and national team members had the chance to work with some of the younger jumpers early in the week, as well, Lazzaroni said.
"[Olympian] Sarah Hendrickson had a group of 10 kids and maybe eight or nine national team members had a group," he said. "It’s a good commitment to show the younger kids what it is to be an Olympian. Whatever we can tell them as coaches about what it takes to get to the Olympics, to get to see it and hear it from a mentor that has been to the Olympics is better."
Lazzaroni was happy to see so many jumpers come to Park City, especially on the women’s side. He said it’s important to continue growing the sport with females.
"Women’s ski jumping’s first time in the Olympics was in Sochi," he said. "That was a year ago. Lindsey Van, who is a coach for the Park City Nordic Ski Club and the Fly Girls, was the first world champion in women’s ski jumping in 2009. That’s only six years ago.
"Today, we had our first comp on the 65 [meter hill]. I believe we had 18 or 20 girls jumping. This afternoon, on the small hills, we’ll have probably another 20 to 30 girls competing. That’s a very good trend. This sport is brand new and we already have a bunch of girls enjoying the sport."
With Park City set to host the 2017 Junior Nordic World Championships, Lazzaroni said the U.S. coaches are excited to showcase some young Nordic combined athletes as well.
"On the men’s side, in the Nordic combined, we have a very good team of U16 and U18 boys," he said. "This is one of the reasons we were selfish and went after the 2017 World Junior Championships — we knew this group of kids would be ready by then and competing on home field is always an advantage."
So, with all the current top athletes and most of the country’s young jumpers competing on Saturday, Lazzaroni said the Utah Olympic Park will showcase the top athletes in the Nordic sports.
"It’s free and the UOP is the perfect place," he said. "The weather is going to be great. This is the biggest ski jump competition you can find in North America. Some of these guys and women you’ll see jumping on Saturday have been to the Olympics already, some will be at World Juniors in a year and a half and some of them will be representing the U.S. in Pyeongchang in 2018. I would say that all the U.S. Nordic combined and ski jumpers — men and women — that will be at the next Olympics will be here on Saturday."
Saturday’s competition starts at 8 a.m. on the 134-meter hill at the Utah Olympic Park and is scheduled to run until 11 a.m.
Park City Mountain Resort is scheduled to start limited summer operations on Saturday, including the operation of PayDay lift for hikers and bikers.