The last decade has seen a great evolution for ski jumping in the United States.
In 2010, what was then Ski Jumping Development USA officially became USA Ski Jumping. The budget was a meager $150,000 and there were only funds to hire two coaches to keep men’s ski jumping alive in the United States. One of those coaches was Clint Jones, one of America’s top ski jumping athletes who wanted to give back as a coach.
For the last nine years, Clint has been the rock and driving force behind what is now USA Nordic. Our community has rallied around this organization and a belief – a belief that we could strike out on our own and bring ski jumping back from the brink. Now, nine years later, Clint is stepping down from his role at USA Nordic.
To understand how Jones ended up with this daunting task and the weight of American ski jumping on his shoulders, we would be remiss to not share where he began. Clint followed in the footsteps of his older brother, switching to ski jumping from nordic combined at an early age in Steamboat Springs, Colo.
Like other young American phenoms, Clint was jumping big hills by the age of 12. but what made Clint different was that he reached a high level at a young age and was able to remain at a high level for nearly 10 years. Clint would agree that his career had some frustrating points and at times his competition results did not match his full potential. But despite this, Clint has achieved more than most other American ski jumpers including:
- Three podium finishes in Summer Grand Prix (summer World Cup) which resulted in a second-place finish in the overall just behind Andreas Widhölzl
- Three Continental Cup Victories and 10 total podiums
- 10 top 30 World Cup finishes with a personal best of ninth in Kuopio, Finland
- Two Olympic Winter Games
- One of only five American athletes to have flown over 200 meters
Following retirement from his competitive career in 2007, Clint went straight into coaching spending two years with the Park City Nordic Club and one year leading the Altius Ski Club in Calgary, Alberta. Then, in 2010, Alan Johnson, Rex Bell, Jim Holland, Jeff Hastings and other founding members of USA Ski Jumping approached Clint to become the head ski jumping coach at the age of 25. This alone would be challenging but Jones was not only the head coach but also:
- Team manager
- Chief of graphic design
- Chief of web design
- Chief of putting stickers on things
- And chief of whatever else was needed
Clint coached alone for three years, mentoring such athletes as Anders Johnson, Nick Fairall, Nick Alexander, Mike Glasder, and others. As USA Ski Jumping grew, he was joined by Bine Norcic in 2013. In 2014 when USA Ski Jumping merged with nordic combined, Clint became ski jumping team director in addition to continuing to act at head coach, all the while managing USA Nordic’s growth from two to over 20 employees, from coaching alone to managing 10 coaches, and from a working budget of under $200,000 to a budget nearing $2 million. Clint also played a primary role in technology projects, equipment projects, and marketing projects over all those years, and whatever else was asked of him. His ability to wear multiple hats and do it with a level of comfort and humor unmatched by most others is remarkable.
In short, Clint Jones is synonymous with USA Nordic. I talked to Clint before writing this and in his words: “It is time. The only thing I have ever really done is ski jumping, going straight from being an athlete, to coaching at the club level, to coaching for the national team. I guess I just feel like it is time to go give something else a try.”
This totally makes sense, and I am sure Clint will be successful in his next endeavor, but he will be sorely missed at USA Nordic, that is for sure. Luckily, he has agreed to remain in a consulting capacity to help with some tasks and ease the transition to whoever replaces him.
We want to thank Clint for all he has given this organization and beyond, and I don’t think I am alone in saying our larger community owes Clint a thank you for guiding us from the brink to where we are now. We are forever indebted to you, Clint.
By Jed Hinkley