UTAH OLYMPIC PARK — Alan Alborn captured the U.S. men's K120 ski jumping title Saturday on a spring morning better suited for 9-irons and sprucing up the backyard.
As expected, Alborn was the class leaper on the large hill at Utah Olympic Park, landing the day's top two jumps of 126.5 and 128.5 meters. Saturday's victory marked Alborn's second national jumping title in the 120-meter hill category.
"I didn't feel too bad about my jumps, considering the conditions," said the soft-spoken Alaskan. Indeed, balmy temperatures forced event organizers to shift Saturday's two-round competition up a half-hour or so from its scheduled 8 a.m. starting time. The start of Sunday's ski jumping competition on the park's K90 hill was also moved up to 7:30 a.m. Sunday's nordic combined cross country race at Soldier Hollow was shifted from 2 p.m. to noon in hopes of finishing the national championships before the sun has its way with already slushy snow.
Jumping in late March is tough but fair — considering everyone competes in the same snow conditions, said Alborn, who recorded some of his best international jumps in recent weeks.
U.S. nordic combiner Bill Demong finished second with jumps of 121.5 and 120 meters. Demong's teammate, Todd Lodwick, finished third.
Park City's Lindsay Van, 16, captured the U.S. women's competition, jumping 100.5 and 103.5 meters. The Park City High sophomore won national titles the past two years and recently finished fourth in the women's world cup ski jumping standings.
Van said she started jumping when she was 7 "because I liked to catch air."
Women's ski jumping will not be featured in the 2002 Winter Games, leaving Van hopeful for a female competition in 2006.
Karla Keck and Liz Szotyori placed second and third, respectively, behind Van.
Steamboat Springs, Colo.,-native Todd Lodwick has won the past three U.S. nordic combined championships and is the likely favorite in Sunday's competition. Lodwick will be challenged by Demong, who recently finished 16th in the World Cup standings. A pair of emerging skiers, Matt Dayton and Johnny Spillane, could also find a spot on Sunday's podium.