Ski jumper gets big win after time off

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— Good things come to those who wait, and last Saturday Steamboat Springs special jumper Brendan Doran was rewarded in a big way for his patience after a month of sitting on the sidelines.

In his first competition this year, which came just two days before the calendar switched to 2001, Doran topped the field at the Chevy Trucks New Year's Ski Jump.

He jumped 93.3 meters on both attempts and in the process ran away from the rest of the field at the event by scoring 239 points. The next closest jumper was American Rhys Hecox in second place with 210 points. Tobin Whitman was third (75.5-81) with 165 points and Taylor Hoffman was fourth at 108.

Steamboat's Logan Gerber was also happy after winning the junior division and a place on the World Junior Team with his first-place finish.

Gerber scored 241 points (from a higher start than Doran) to top second-place finisher Jeff Denney, who netted 225 points. Steamboat's Tommy Schwall, the only other local jumper at the event, placed fifth with 209 points.

The result was a good one for Doran whole elected to stay at home and care for his mother rather than travel with the rest of the U.S. Team to Europe during the first session.

"I've got a really good kid," Doran's mom, Cindy, said. "I was really happy to see him come back and win."

Doran explained it was more important for him to remain in Steamboat and take care of his mother, who had recently undergone back surgery.

"My mother took care of me for 21 years, so it wasn't that big of a deal for me to take care of her for five weeks," Doran said.

The choice, however, kept Doran here and away from valuable training as well as the chance to compete in Europe a tough choice in a pre-Olympic year.

"I was worried that it would hurt him to a point," Cindy said. "But he's been there (on the U.S. Team) for a long time. He knows what he can do and what he can't do. If I thought it would have hurt his ski jumping to stay home with me, I would have wanted him to go."

Doran's mom said her son made the most of the layoff. He trained every day and worked hard to make sure he had everything in order.

When he got the chance in December, Doran did travel to Park City to train with U.S. Ski Team head jumping coach Kari Ylianttila.

On Saturday, Doran opened his season with a win. But the true test will come in the next months as the team works to step things up for the Olympics.

"It's nice to see Brendan come back with a win," U.S. Development coach Chris Gilbertson said. "But it's obvious that we still have a lot of work to do before the Olympics."

But right now, Doran and his Winter Sports Club teammate Logan Gerber were happy to get the wins.

"I was pumped to get going, there was no doubt," Doran said. "But I've always done well in Lake Placid."

In fact, Doran actually lived near the former Olympic jumping facility a few years ago to concentrate on his sport in the winter on snow and in the summer on plastic. He has since moved back to Steamboat but said he has logged more jumps at the Lake Placid jumps than he has here in Steamboat the place he calls home.

Doran was happy with his showing in New York and is hoping the win will give him confidence as he moves closer to several important World Cup starts in Park City Jan. 16 through 21.

Doran and the Americans will head to Park City this week to start preparing for the event, which will be held at the Olympic venue in Soldier Hollow.

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