For the seventh time in his last eight competitions in Lake Placid, Anders Johnson [video] of Park City, Utah, ski jumped to the head of the field Sunday in completing a sweep of the Flaming Leaves Festival. After taking Saturday’s national championship on the 90 meter hill, Johnson returned to the same Olympic Jumping Complex 24 hours later, under similar sunshine and 65 degree weather, and captured the NYSEF 90 Meter Super Tour event.
Not to be outdone, Lindsey Van [video], also of Park City, took both ends of the Lake Placid doubleheader by winning Sunday’s women’s 90 meter on the artificial surfaces. “I’ve jumped here many times and have always jumped well,” said the past Winter Olympian. “I feel every time I’m here, I can do well.”
For a struggling ski jumper, the six-foot-three-inch athlete appreciated the friendly confine of the 1980 Winter Olympic site. “The start of summer training wasn’t so good for me,” continued Johnson. “But I’ve jumped better since August.”
Then came a month in Europe where he performed better in summer Continental Cups and World Cups. “That got my confidence back. The jumps here this weekend were some of my best of the season. Now I feel confident for this winter.”
While vendors offered their goods and live bands performed under the tent, Johnson had the two best jumps of the day at 100.5 and 102 meters. His distance and style points totaled 263.5 for an easy victory. Eric Camerota of Park City was second with 249.5 points on jumps of 99.5 and 93 meters. Third place went to Nick Alexander of Lebanon, N.H. after jumping 99 and 92.5 meters for 246 points. Lake Placid’s Andrew Bliss was fourth on the strength of his opening jump of 97 meters. A second attempt of 89.5 gave Bliss 240 points.
Bill Demong of Vermontville, N.Y., sponsored by the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA), was eighth after placing third in the national championship ski jump and second in the Nordic combined nationals, both on Saturday. Demong is preparing to be inducted into the Saranac Lake High School Hall of Fame this week as part of the 1995 state high school championship cross country team.
The diminutive Van, trying to overcome a knee injury incurred last winter, posted jumps of 98.5 and 92 meters, picking up 249 points in the process. “I took myself totally out of the situation and told myself to worry about it (the injury) later,” said Van, who will now go west and seek the care of orthopedic specialist Dr. Richard Steadman. “This weekend was a lot better for me. I concentrated on my in-run position because the in-run here is a bit bumpy. Otherwise, I had stable conditions. It was a great weekend and I had lots of fun. Now I feel good about the winter and will try to stay healthy in the process.”
Jessica Jerome of Park City was next with 97 and 89.5 meter jumps for 237.5 points. Avery Ardovino, Park City, secured third by jumping 89 and 92.5 meters for 226.5 points. Sisters Nina and Danielle Lussi of Lake Placid finished 10th and 11th, respectively. Canadian jumpers came to the surface in the junior division as Calgary, Alberta’s Yukon De Leeuw grabbed the title ahead of teammate Matthew Rowley, also of Calgary. Brian Wallace of Woodbury, Minn. placed third, just a point from second place.
With the close of the Flaming Leaves Festival comes the start of a fall training camp in Lake Placid for many of these competitors. The winter version of this sport gets underway, on snow, next month.
For complete results, including event photos, please log on to www.orda.org.