Park City, Utah (January 16, 2023) – Last weekend, USA Nordic Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined athletes competed at different World and Continental Cups across Europe. USA Nordic athletes also competed in the 2023 World University Games in Lake Placid, New York. The weekend was highlighted by Women’s Ski Jumping’s Annika Belshaw, who scored World Cup points for the third time this season in Zao, Japan. Niklas Malacinski and Evan Nichols had a great weekend as well for Men’s Nordic Combined at the 2023 World University Games, with Malacinski and Nichols both earning podium finishes.
Women’s Ski Jumping
Competition in Zao, Japan, started off with a HS102 Qualification on Thursday, January 12th. The first athlete to qualify for Women’s Ski Jumping was Paige Jones, placing 33rd overall, with a jump of 83.0 meters for 82.6 points. Annika Belshaw was the second and final athlete to qualify, as she jumped to 37th place, going 80.0 meters for 80.3 points. During the Individual HS102 World Cup on Friday, January 13th, Belshaw was able to place 37th overall. In the first round, Belshaw jumped to 76.5 meters, for a total of 78.7 points. Jones then followed in 39th, putting together a 74.5 meter jump in the first round, totaling 69.9 points.
On Saturday, January 14th, Belshaw and Jones competed in the Super Team HS102 World Cup. Belshaw and Jones placed 12th overall, putting together a total of 241.9 points, after two rounds of jumping.
Action in Zao then wrapped-up on Sunday, January 15th, with another HS102 Qualification and Individual HS102 World Cup. A total of four athletes from USA Nordic were able to qualify, with Jones coming in 28th, Josie Johnson in 33rd, Belshaw in 37th, and Sam Macuga in 40th. During the Individual HS102 World Cup event, Belshaw placed 27th overall, notching her third World Cup points of the season. Belshaw was able to put together jumps of 82.0 and 88.0 meters, for a total of 170.6 points. Belshaw was followed by Johnson in 36th (82.0 meters, 80.0 points), Jones in 37th (83.0 meters, 76.3 points), and Macuga in 40th (73.0 meters, 61.9 points).
“Overall, I’m fairly satisfied with how the trip to Japan went for the team,” said USA Nordic Men’s and Women’s Ski Jumping Coach, Anders Johnson. “Definitely some ups and downs, but on the final day in Zao, we had our best overall team performance in many years, with four girls qualifying and Annika scoring points for the third time this season.”
Men’s Nordic Combined
Nordic Combined competitions at the World University Games in Lake Placid, New York, kicked-off on Friday, January 13th. The first event for Men’s Nordic Combined was the HS100/10km Competition. On the hill, Evan Nichols was able to jump to 2nd place, carding a 88.5 meter jump for 107.3 points. Niklas Malacinski followed in 7th place, after he jumped to 82.0 meters for 100.8 points. Henry Johnstone then placed 14th (68.0 meters, 66.6 points), with Aidan Ripp in 18th (60.5 meters, 44.1 points) and Timothy Ziegler in 19th (57.0 meters, 35.2 points). After starting 7th overall during the 10km race, Malacinski was able to ski up, finishing 2nd overall with a total time of 26:28.6 (+1:36.4 behind 1st). Nichols followed in 4th place, finishing the 10km course in 26:36.5, barely missing out on the podium. Johnstone was next to finish in 12th, followed by Ripp in 13th and Ziegler in 18th.
The next competition was held on Sunday, January 15th, as athletes participated in the Mass Start HS100/10km Event. On the race course, Malacinski notched the best time of the day, finishing 1st overall with a total time of 24:37.0. Ripp and Nichols followed close behind, with Ripp placing 2nd overall (25:15.2) and Nichols coming in at 3rd overall (25:20.9). Johnstone (6th overall, 25:53.1) and Ziegler (13th overall, 27:57.0) then rounded things out for Men’s Nordic Combined. On the hill, Malacinski was able to jump to 89.5 meters (119.2 points), as he earned a 2nd place finish and his second podium of the weekend. Nichols followed in 3rd place, as he jumped to 86.0 meters for 105.7 points. Johnstone then earned a 9th place finish (75.0 meters, 62.8 points), followed by Ripp in 12th (68.0 meters, 50.9 points) and Ziegler in 17th (62.5 meters, 2.5 points).
The World University Games will resume later this week, with the Men’s Team Sprint HS100/4×1.5km on Tuesday, January 17th.
Men’s Ski Jumping
Competition kicked-off in Zakopane, Poland, on Friday, January 13th, with the HS140 Qualification for Sunday’s Individual HS140 World Cup. All four Men’s Ski Jumping athletes were able to qualify, with Casey Larson leading the pack in 30th (117.5 meters, 109.8 points), followed by Decker Dean in 38th (113.0 meters, 102.0 points), Andrew Urlaub in 46th (111.0 meters, 85.4 points), and Erik Belshaw in 47th (99.5 meters, 73.0 points).
On Saturday, January 14th, USA Nordic Men’s Ski Jumping athletes competed in the Team HS140 World Cup. In the first round, Larson (114.5 meters), Urlaub (123.0 meters), Belshaw (114.5 meters) and Dean (120.0 meters), were able to tally 438.8 points, as they qualified for the second round. In the final round, Larson (114.0 meters), Urlaub (122.0 meters), Belshaw (108.0 meters) and Dean (112.5), put together another great round, notching 434.5 points. This gave the four athletes a total of 873.3 on the day, as they finished 7th overall.
After all four athletes qualified on Friday, competition then wrapped up on Sunday, January 15th, with the final Individual HS140 World Cup of the weekend. Urlaub recorded the highest finish of the day for USA Nordic, placing 32nd overall, after jumping to 120.0 meters for 106.9 points. Larson was close behind in 36th, putting together a 112.5 meter jump for 101.1 points in the first round. Dean followed in 41st, after going 109.5 meters for 89.8 points. Belshaw rounded things off for Men’s Ski Jumping, as he placed 48th overall, after jumping 98.5 meters for 67.8 points.
Tate Frantz was the sole USA Nordic athlete to compete at the Continental Cups in Sapporo, Japan. During the first Individual HS137 Continental Cup on Saturday, January 14th, Frantz placed 24th overall. Frantz put together a great day on the hill, jumping to 124.0 meters in the first round, and 118.5 meters in the second, for a total of172.6 points on the day. Two Individual HS137 Continental Cups were then held on Sunday, January 15th, to close out the weekend. Frantz finished 37th overall (112.0 meters, 79.7 points) during the first Continental Cup, followed by another 37th place finish (110.0 meters, 73.5 points) in the day’s second Continental Cup.
Women’s Nordic Combined
Tess Arnone was the sole USA Nordic Women’s Nordic Combined athlete who made the trip to Lake Placid, New York, to compete in the World University Games. Competition started on Friday, January 13th, with the Women’s Nordic Combined HS100/5km Event. On the hill, Arnone jumped to 57.5 meters (36.3 points), putting her in 6th place to start the 5km race. Arnone then finished 5th overall in the 5km, with a total time of 21:20.7, +6:46.1 behind 1st place.
Arnone then competed in the Mass Start HS100/5km on Sunday, January 15th. Arnone had a great 5km race, placing 4th overall, notching a 15:28.8 total time (+53.0 behind 1st). On the hill, Arnone jumped to 58.5 meters (22.6 total points), as she earned another 6th place finish.
The final Nordic Combined competition of the 2023 World University Games will take place on January 19th, with the Mixed Team HS100/2×2.5km Event.