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German jumper captures FIS Cup gold

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PARK CITY — Anna Haefele's first trip to Utah will be a memorable one.

The German ski jumper won the FIS Continental Cup with a score of 226.5 in Friday afternoon's competition at the Olympic Park. Park City-native Lindsey Van earned a silver medal with a score of 223. Jacqueline Seifriedsberger, Austria, was third with a score of 222.5. Two other Park City residents, Alissa Johnson and Jessica Jerome, both finished in the top 15.

For Haefele, Friday's win made it a historic day.

"This is my first victory — ever," she said, smiling. Her success came after a mediocre training session on the jump at the Utah Olympic Park on Thursday.

"After the first round, I was a little surprised for me to be in third," she said. Haefele jumped 92 meters on her first jump and 89 meters on her second jump. Her second jump took her from third to first place in the first Continental Cup on snow in Utah.

Van's second place finish was an impressive feat, considering she hasn't jumped for nearly two months. Van had knee surgery in March for a micro fracture. But after about 80 jumps with the team in late summer and fall competitions, she experienced more soreness in her knee.

Despite competing in front of a hometown crowd Friday, Van said she wasn't even tempted to practice this week.

"The last two months I've been off completely," Van said. Her first jump, which was 92 meters, was pain free, but the second jump of 87 meters tweaked the injury.

"The second one hurt a lot," she said. "My jumps were mediocre, but I'm happy with how it worked out."

All of the women are looking forward to the sport's first FIS World Championship on Feb. 20.

"I'm psyched we have the opportunity," said Van. "It's great for the sport."

Haefele, who said the sport is extremely popular among European women, echoed that sentiment.

"Every girl is very happy that we are now included," she said.

Van acknowledged that despite wanting to win on her "home hill," it was also good for the sport to have a variety of women winning the competitions. About a dozen women from a half dozen countries are suing the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee to gain the right to participate in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. And while all of the jumpers are hopeful, they're trying to focus on doing their best every time they get a chance to compete.

"I'm optimistic things will work out for us (in the Canadian lawsuit), but I try not to think about it much. It's too stressful."

The women jumped in a second competition at 6 p.m. Friday. The afternoon competition was supposed to be held Saturday at 6 p.m., but an expected severe winter storm forced organizers to move both competitions to Friday.

Haefele also won Friday's evening competition, while Canada's Nata De Leeuw finished second. Germany's Ulrike Graessler was third. Van led the Americans with a sixth-place finish.

Next week, the women will be jumping in Vancouver, where Van holds the distance record of 105.5 meters. Ironically, it is the same K90 jump that the women have been barred from competing on in the 2010 Olympic Games.


E-MAIL: adonaldson@desnews.com