Fox River Grove, IL – The Visa Women’s Ski Jumping Team is in suburban Chicago this week to participate in the U.S. National Ski Jumping Championships, hosted by the Norge Ski Club.
Jessica Jerome, Sarah Hendrickson, Alissa Johnson and Abby Hughes, all of Park City, Utah, will jump on Saturday in the normal hill (K70) competition. Jerome won the large hill national title in July in Park City. Teammate Lindsey Van is nursing a leg injury and will not be competing.
The Norge Ski Club is hosting a National Championship for just the second time in the club’s 107-year history.
“It’s terrific to have Nationals here,” said Visa Team Head Coach Alan Alborn. “The Norge hill is one of the few in the nation of this size (K70). It’s not too big and not too small, so it’s a great venue for older, more experienced jumpers and the young up-and-comers, too.”
Norge Ski Club is part of the U.S. Central Division for ski jumping. There are 14 clubs in Central (Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin), with each having at least one ski jump. Alborn said the Central Division has by far the most active young female jumpers in the nation — at least 60 between the ages of 5 and 16.
“This atmosphere and this competition will provide a great opportunity to naturally see how our team is performing and it will be a good indicator for what’s to come this winter,” Alborn said.
The inaugural FIS World Cup tour for women begins Dec. 3 in Lillehammer, Norway. World Cup status means better jumping venues and more television broadcasts for the women’s events, as well as increased prize money.
Alborn, the Visa Team’s new head coach, is based in Park City and also is the head coach for the Nordic Program at Utah Olympic Park. Growing up in Alaska and later Steamboat Springs, Colo., Alborn was a natural ski jumper. He competed on the World Cup for 10 years and is a three-time Olympian. He notched six National Championship titles in his career and still holds the American distance record for ski flying — 221.5 meters, or 720 feet, which he earned in the spring of 2002 at Planica, Slovenia. He retired in 2007.
Alborn is joined by International Coach Paolo Bernardi to help lead this year’s Visa Team. Bernardi, from Italy, was the ski jumping head coach for the Italian Nordic Combined Team and most recently was the wax tech and technical consultant for the USA Nordic Combined Team. He is a former Nordic Combined athlete who twice won Italy’s National Championships.