Nordic team logs 300 jumps this summer … so far
Steamboat Springs — Bill Demong headed into the summer with the goal of becoming more consistent on the jump hills by the time the snow started to fly this winter.
He got a big boost of confidence earlier this month when he placed second out of the top 70 nordic combined skiers in the world who took to the plastic jumps in Europe earlier this month as part of the Summer Grand Prix.
“Things went very, very well in Europe,” Demong said. “I jumped into the top five in every event. It was an enormous boost to my confidence.”
The five-event nordic combined series was attended by all the top jumpers in the World and was a major event that capped off most countries’ summer training programs.
Most of those skiers will head back home to work on the plastic a little more this summer and improve if possible. For the Americans that means a trip back to Park City this week and another session at the Olympic venue.
“This is a really big deal,” American coach Jan Eric Aalbu said.
“All the top skiers in the world were there and it was some of the best competition I’ve ever seen.”
Aalbu said most of the skiers from the World Cup A and World Cup B took part in the series. It was an important test for the U.S. coaches who are hoping to measure how well jump training has been going.
“It was good for us to see where we stand with the world,” Aalbu said.
“We knew going in that we would come out with confidence or we would find out what we needed to work on. I think we gained a lot of confidence.”
The Summer Grand Prix opened on Aug. 24 and ran through Sept. 2.
The events were similar to the nordic combined World Cup’s winter schedule, however, in this event the skiers jumped off of plastic and used inline skates or roller skies in the cross country section.
Aalbu said the Americans fared pretty well on the jumps, but it took the skiers a little while to adjust to the inline skates.
Aalbu said that ski jumping on plastic is very similar to jumping on the snow. Demong and teammate Johnny Spillane both had strong showings on the jump hill.
“We were very happy,” Aablu said.
“We had a few ups and downs, but we are very happy with were we are at.”
While there is a clear cut difference between the summer and the winter, Aalbu said that the top jumpers in the summer normally carry that success to the hills in the winter.
The biggest difference between the winter and the summer may be on the cross country course.
Aalbu said that strong cross country skiers like Todd Lodwick can not make up as much time in the summer time cross country events.
Many of those events featured in-line skates instead of roller skies something that was a major adjustment for the u.s. skiers.
“We never use Roller blades,” Demong said. ‘So it took us some time to get used to them.”
“The in-line skates are faster and more exciting to watch,” Aalbu said.
“But the technique on the inline skates is very different from cross country skiing,” he said.
However, the American coach said cross country skiing was not the emphasis of the team at the event.
He was looking for improvements in jumping and he left Europe with a good feeling.
Aalbu said that the U.S. Team has logged more than 300 jumps this summer. Coaches said there are two more camps planned in Park City this summer and they are hoping to have logged nearly 500 jumps before the fall season.
Aalbu is hoping the jumps will pay off when the team opens the World Cup season in mid-November.
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