Gooding looks for another title at North American Gelande Jumping Championships
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Just a couple of weeks after winning his hometown event at the Winter Carnival, longtime Steamboat Springs resident Marsh Gooding will be back at it this weekend in Missoula, Montana, where he hopes to defend his title at the North American Gelande Jumping Championships.
“I got into it through ski racing,” said Gooding, who raced for the University of Vermont and had success at the U.S. Ski & Snowboard, USSA, level. “When I was little, we would go off the ski jumps fairly regularly for training. … It was kind of like this rite of passage for young Alpine ski racers to go out and launch off each progressively bigger jump.”
With his Alpine ski racing career in the rearview mirror, Gooding has found a way to keep his competitive edge through gelande jumping, where athletes test themselves by taking flight off of jumps using Alpine skis with traditional bindings.
This weekend Gooding will pack up his skis and head to the small Snowbowl ski area, which is about 12 miles northeast of Missoula, Montana, where he hopes to add to his collection of titles. He will be joined by fellow Steamboat gelande jumper Pat Arnone. Other jumpers from Steamboat include Tim McGill, Josh Hanson and Brian Lithgow, but Gooding isn’t sure if they were competing at Snowbowl.
“It’s always a ‘we’ll see,’” Gooding said. “You never really know who is going to be there until you show up.”
The event will include qualifying Saturday and then three rounds of two jumps each Sunday to determine this year’s champion. Competitors will use their best jumps from each round and will be scored on both distance and style.
“It’s a smaller jump, and I went around 200 feet last year,” Gooding said. “The hill record is 205 feet, so depending on the snow conditions up there and my own competitive drive, and I would love to break that hill record.”
Gooding said his first competitive gelande jump came at the Pro Alpine Flying Gelande Ski Jumping Championships in Steamboat during his junior year at Steamboat Springs High School. Gooding wanted to fore jump at the event, but after watching him, the other competitors decided they didn’t want to be shown up by a fore jumper.
“At the time, there were like 25 guys or something, and I was out-jumping a lot of them in training,” Gooding said. “They kind of huddled after training and said, ‘Well, we can’t have a fore jumper that goes further than more than half the field, so if you want to jump you have to compete with us.’ So my dad came up with the hundred buck entry, and I was one of the guys.”
Gooding said he was drawn to the sport because it made him better on the race course.
That seventh-place finish in his first official gelande jumping event in high school stuck with him, and 17 years later, he continues to look for big air.
“It’s pretty goofy,” Gooding said. “Gelande is one of the few things in life where the crowds aren’t making it difficult to do. On a powder day in Steamboat, we have thousands of people, and you have to wait in line. But when you show up for a gelande event, you realize pretty quickly that there just aren’t that many people doing it. But for me, it’s just a whole lot of fun.”
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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