National team women jumpers take their best shot — at coaching


National team women jumpers take their best shot — at coaching{mosimage}PARK CITY, Utah — More than two dozen young women ski jumpers are participating in a mini-training camp at Utah Olympic Park, with the majority of the coaching coming from the nation’s top women jumpers.

Five women — Brenna Ellis, Jessica Jerome, Lindsey Van, Abby Hughes and Alissa Johnson, all from the National Sports Foundation in Park City — who have been nominated to the U.S. Ski Team as the first women jumpers, are handling the bulk of the coaching, according to women’s head coach Casey Colby. Van is No. 2 in the world, Jerome No. 3, Hughes ninth, Johnson 11th and Ellis 15th.

“We’ve got 26 girls, ages 6-17 — with only a handful from here. I’ve got the most advanced jumpers — two locals and two older girls from the Midwest — training with me,” Colby said, “and the others are being coached by the team.” The four-day development camp concludes Sunday with an informal competition among the women jumpers.

“It’s gone pretty well. They don’t get to jump the 90-meter too much, so a lot of it so far has just been getting used to the bigger hill … but that’s why they’re here,” according to Colby, a 1998 Olympic jumper in Nagano, Japan, and former U.S. champion. “Once they adjust to it, they do better, of course.”

Ellis, who just graduated from Park City High School and is considering enrollment at the University of Utah or Westminster College in Salt Lake City, said the enthusiasm of the campers has helped accelerate their learning curve. “It’s been great. The girls are awesome to work with and already have improved a lot,” she said.

She also was a coach last year when the program got under way and said she has a better understanding of what Colby undergoes in coaching her and her teammates. “It’s definitely interesting to see things from the other side.

“You have to know what to tell them, of course. Probably the hardest part is giving them the knowledge we’ve got from our level in a way they’ll understand. Oh yeah, it’s definitely been a learning experience from both sides.”

She paused a moment and laughed. “Y’know, it’s not that easy to coach a bunch of girls. I see exactly what Casey has to deal with; we’re older girls and we’re definitely tougher to deal with,” Ellis said.

The camp has included two sessions in jumping Thursday and Friday. Saturday’s plan called for jumping in the morning and the afternoon off before winding up the camp with a competition Sunday.

Women’s jumping recently received approval for inclusion in the 2009 World Nordic Ski Championships in the Czech Republic, a major step forward in the drive to become included in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. The 2007 Continental Cup season — the highest level of women’s jumping — opens July 21-22 at UOP with competitors from a dozen or more nations expected to compete.

— USSA

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