Sights set on Gold Cup

Athletes competing for trip to Steamboat event Dec. 19

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— It was business as usual for Steamboat Springs special jumper Tommy Schwall on Monday as he packed his car and headed to Utah for a weekend jump meet.

"I was pretty happy with my results," Schwall said. "But it didn't make the drive any shorter.

Schwall did, however, use the five-plus hours he spent in the car on Monday to think about the upcoming weekend.

"I just want to do as well as I did last weekend," Schwall said. "I just want to continue to have solid results."

In two ski jumping events at Howelsen Hill last weekend, the special jumper punched his ticket for a trip to Finland and put himself in prime position to compete for a wild-card berth to the 2002 Olympic Winter Games at the Gold Cup this December.

He felt as if he had jumped his best technically in training on Friday but admitted he was a little disappointed with his jumps during the competitions.

However, he did manage to top the field in the second of four Gold Cup tryout events Sunday, which was held on the K-90 at Howelsen. He collected 235 points on efforts of 91 and 90 meters. Schwall was also the top-placing American jumper in Saturday's first Gold Cup tryout event finishing second to Canadian Paul Lebel.

Intermountain jumper Tim Nelson, who finished second in Sunday's event with 229.5 points, and Jim Denny of the Eastern division, who finished third in Sunday's event with 224.5 points, also earned trips to Europe to take part in two Continental Cup events in Lahti Dec. 15 and 16.

Steamboat Springs Nordic Director Todd Wilson said all three jumpers would take part in the final two Gold Cup tryout events next weekend in Park City, Utah. The top 10 special jumpers and top 10 Nordic Combined jumpers will join the national team athletes in the actual Gold Cup event.

The Gold Cup will take place in Steamboat Springs Dec. 19. The winner will earn an automatic berth to the Olympics and a check for $10,000.

"There were a couple of big surprises last weekend," Steamboat Springs coach Chris Gilbertson said. "Tommy was one of them."

Another big surprise for the local coaches was the number of skiers who showed up for the Gold Cup events.

Wilson said he thought between 30 and 40 skiers would show up for the Steamboat events. Instead, more than 60 showed up to take a shot at the Gold Cups on Saturday.

"I think that's a record for us at the first ski jumping meet of the season," Wilson said.

Schwall said he expects the same jumpers to be in Park City this weekend for the final two Gold Cup qualifiers.

"I heard that Clint (Jones) and Al Alborn might compete in these," Schwall said. "If they decide to it would be great. It's always nice to go up against the best jumpers."

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