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Park City jumping: German tops, five U.S. women in top 12 in Continental Cup meet

Park City jumping: German tops, five U.S. women in top 12 in Continental Cup meet{mosimage}PARK CITY, Utah – Eight weeks after the International Ski Federation gave the thumbs-up to women’s jumping as a World Championships event, opening the door wide to Olympic approval later this year, the 2007 Continental Cup season got under way in bright sunshine and mid-90s weather Friday night at Utah Olympic Park.

When the event — the first of two at UOP — was over, it was 16-year-old German Juliane Seyfahrt, the reigning World Junior Championships gold medalist, who mugged the field with the longest jump of each round, while U.S. women filled five of the top 12 spots.

“I knew I was jumping good but I didn’t expect to win,” said a sleepy-eyed Seyfahrt as she patiently answered a couple of reporters’ questions but looked as though she’d far prefer to be somewhere on Blanketstrasse. The Germans reached Park City less than 48 hours before the Visa Women’s Ski Jumping Festival; they trained the next day; and Seyfahrt shrugged off the potential troubles to collect the third Continental Cup victory of her young career.

“We had one training day. We’re tired,” she said following the comp on UOP’s 100-meter normal hill.

Seyfahrt went 96 meters on her first jump but she struggled on her landings, so judges docked her style points, giving Austrian Daniela Iraschko, who jumped 93 meters, the first-round lead. Seyfahrt then jumped 93 meters and when Iraschko jumped four meters shorter, it gave the win to the German. Iraschko, who swept the two Continental Cup meets at UOP last fall, finished with 227.5 points and third place went to Norwegian Line Jahr (222.0).

“I’m in pretty good condition and my first jump (93 m) was pretty good,” Iraschko said, “but my second jump was pretty average … I wanted to jump so high but I was so early on my jump, but second place is beautiful, too. I like the place here, I like Park City, but the heat gives me a headache. I don’t like that,” she added.

Top American was Jessica Jerome, who finished fourth, with Lindsey Van fifth.

“I was happy about the jumping,” Jerome said, “but the conditions were just a little bit off, so hopefully we can fix that [Saturday]…

“The first round there was a lot of air and then for the last 10 or 15 girls it was just dead. It turned around in just seconds … and then in the second round, there was no air again. The thing is, good air, bad air, whatever … as long as it’s consistent and the first round definitely was not consistent,” Jerome said. “Second round, it was … just … dead.”

U.S. coach Casey Colby had no complaints, pointing to the steady media glare all week, which the women “handled pretty well,” and the potential stage jitters — plus inherent disadvantages — from opening at home. “Now the butterflies are out,” he said, indicating he expected better results Saturday in the weekend finale before everyone heads to Calgary for two more jump meets.

U.S. Nordic Director Luke Bodensteiner said he also was pleased with the U.S. women’s showing — and with the enthusiastic crowd, which included not only family and friends but a healthy delegation of young women softball players (many in uniform) for a week-long tournament in Park City.

“The National Sports Foundation and Women’s Ski Jumping USA did an outstanding job making this happen, making it a real celebration of the progress women’s jumping made when it was added to the ’09 worlds,” Bodensteiner said. “It’s a great example of the support women’s jumping has and can create.”

The VISA weekend continues Saturday with the second normal-hill jump meet before the women head to Calgary for two more competitions.

WOMEN’S CONTINENTAL CUP SKI JUMPING
VISA Women’s Ski Jumping Festival
Utah Olympic Park – July 21, 2006
Normal Hill (HS100 – jump distances in meters)

1. Juliane Seyfahrt, Germany, (96-92.5 meters) 235.5 points
2. Daniela Irachko, Austria, (93-88.5) 227.5
3. Line Jahr, Norway, (92.5-87) 222.0
4. Jessica Jerome, Park City, Utah, (89-87) 213.0
5. (tie) Lindsey Van, Park City, Utah, (91.5-82.5) and Katie Willis, Canada, (89-87.5), 212.5 each
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9. Alissa Johnson, Park City, Utah, (86.5-87) 207.5
11. Abby Hughes, Park City, Utah, (85.5-83) 195.0
12. Brenna Ellis, Park City, Utah, (81-81) 180.0
18. Avery Ardovino, Park City, Utah, (82-73) 163.5
21. Karla Keck, Oconomowoc, Wis., (73.5-72.5) 140.5
24. Karin Friberg, St. Paul, Minn., (69-70) 120.5
26. Elisabeth Anderson, Eau Claire, Wis., (62.5-60) 92.5
27. Brittany Rhoads, Park City, Utah, (58.5-63) 82.0

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