In the final weekend of 2016, USA Nordic’s athletes competed stateside in Junior World Trials and in Germany in the first two legs of the Four Hills Tournee.
Junior World Trials- Park City, UT
The Nordic Combined Junior World Trials featured jumping on the HS100m followed by a 5km race on Friday and a 10km on Saturday. Friday’s race saw two 16-year-olds leading the way; USA Nordic Team member Stephen Schumann (Park City, UT) won the 5km ahead of Elijah Vargas (Steamboat Springs, CO) and Tucker Hoefler (Park City, UT).
On Saturday, USA Nordic’s Ben Loomis won the 10km in convincing fashion after sitting out the first race. Loomis’ win demonstrated his strong form after a recent 5th place Continental Cup finish in Klingenthal, GER. Schumann finished his weekend strong in 2nd, and Grant Andrews (Steamboat Springs, CO) improved on his previous day’s 5th to take 3rd. Schumann and Loomis have prequalified Junior World spots from Continental Cup rankings. There was a tight fight for the remaining Junior World team spots – which will be named in the coming weeks.
Ski Jumping Trials Report from Tom Kelly/ U.S. Ski Team:
USSA Central Division ski jumpers dominated in the final two qualifiers for spots on the USA team that will compete in the 2017 Nordic Junior World Championships to be held in early February in Utah. Casey Larson (Barrington, IL) of the Norge Ski Club and Anna Hoffman (Madison, WI) from the Blackhawk Ski Club swept to back-to-back wins on the HS100-meter Olympic ski jump in Park City.
Larson, who was on the Junior Worlds team a year ago that competed in Romania, made it a perfect three-for-three after winning earlier in the month at Steamboat Springs. For Hoffman, it was a breakout weekend for the 16-year old who had been fifth at the opening qualifier in Steamboat Springs.
Friday, Larson flew 98.5 and 94.5 meters for the two longest rides of the day. Nordic combined skier Ben Loomis (Eau Claire, WI) from the Flying Eagles Ski Club was second with Trevor Edlund (Woodbury, MN) of the St. Paul Ski Club was third. Saturday, Larson went 90.5 meters on his first jump then knocked it out of the park with a towering 102.0 meter final ride to seal the win over Loomis and Edlund.
“I was really happy with my jumping,” said Larson. “I’ve been working really hard and hoping to get to Europe to compete with the best before coming back for Junior Worlds.”
“It was an obvious that Casey Larson has been working hard to get the win again,” said USA Nordic Coach Clint Jones. “He has been showing very solid jumps at a high level in all three of the qualifying events. It was also good to see that Trevor Edlund also stepped up his game a bit.
“There’s a gap back to the next group, but they are young and will earn some great experience this year at Junior World Championships.”
Hoffman, meanwhile, had to come from behind to win on Friday. she went 86.5 and 88.5 meters to win over Annika Belshaw (Steamboat Springs, CO) of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club was second and Cara Larson (Barrington, IL) of the Norge Ski Club third. Saturday, Hoffman went 88.5 and 89.5 meters, taking a solid first jump lead over Larson and holding it, with Belshaw finishing third.
“Anna is a product of a lot of club work with Blackhawk in Wisconsin and three years on the Fly Girls team and now Women’s Ski Jumping U.S.A. Development team,” said Women’s Ski Jumping U.S. A. Coach Alan Alborn. “Anna has been really working hard and focused on pushing her level higher which is starting to blossom on the ski jump.”
The Junior World Championships are set Jan. 30-Feb. 5 at the Utah Olympic Park and Soldier Hollow – both venues from the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. It’s the first time the event has been in the USA since 1986 in Lake Placid, NY.
Visit our results page here for full results from the Trials.
For photos of the event, see our album on Facebook here.
Four Hills Tournee – Germany
The 65th Four Hills Tournee kicked off on December 29th in Oberstdorf, GER. Will Rhoads, Kevin Bickner and Mike Glasder competed for USA Nordic but did not advance past Thursday’s qualification. The tour quickly moved to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, for the next stage on Dec. 31st. Bickner put down an improved jump and qualified in 30th. Rhoads and Glasder tied for 61st amongst the 70 starters fighting for the 50 qualification spots.
New Year’s day brought mixed luck for Bickner, who just missed World Cup points with a 32nd place finish. Bickner’s first round jump of 127 meters would have put him in 29th in a normal competition. However, the Four Hills Tournee features a unique head-to-head format. In the first round of each competition jumpers are paired with another jumper. The best from each of the 25 pairings automatically advances to the final round. “Lucky loser” spots are given to the next five best jumps of athletes who lost their head-to-head matchup, but Bickner’s points were not enough to get him into this spot. Canada’s Mackenzie Boyd-Clowds had similar luck, finishing 31st after the 28th best jump by points.
The Four Hills ski jumpers have a day off before the next qualification on the 3rd in Innsbruck, AUT. Use the NBC Sports App on your mobile device or NBCsports.com on your web browser to watch the competitions live and on replay.