Steamboat Springs Alaskan ski jumper Alan Alborn was the last jumper to take flight in the final round of the Chevy Trucks U.S. Championships Thursday, but he was the first to step into the spotlight.
Alborn, who trained in Steamboat Springs before being named to the U.S. Ski Team, completed the sweep by winning the K-114 event at Howelsen Hill in downtown Steamboat Springs Thursday.
He soared 125.5 meters on his final jump of the day and despite a rocky landing managed to move past Nordic combined skier Bill Demong in the final standings.
"I was a little upset that I fell on that last jump," Alborn said. "It was a good jump, but I had a little too much speed and I couldn't hang on to the landing."
Alborn lost points for a slight touch, but it wasn't enough to ruin his day. He led the first round with an effort of 114.5 meters and his second jump was long enough to give him the points he needed to win the event. He finished with 235 total points and was followed by Demong in second with 229.6.
Clint Jones placed third with 219.7 points. The local favorite earned some bragging rights at the end of the event, however, when he tied a hill record (127 meters) en route to winning the Ragnar Cup. All three jumpers on the podium had ties to Steamboat Springs.
Demong had applied the pressure through both rounds. After winning the National Nordic Combined title Wednesday night, Demong returned to the jump hill to post marks of 113.5 and 114 meters on his two efforts.
"I didn't really come into these events with any expectations," Demong said. "I just wanted to come out here and have some fun and end the season on a good note."
With a third place in the K-90, the national combined title and a second-place finish in today's event, it appeared Demong was happy with the way things went this week.
Jones was unhappy with his 100.5 meter first jump. But he was determined to make up for it in the second round, where he jumped for 124 meters.
"I knew I had to have a good one just to get on the podium," Jones said. "I was a little mad after the first round. I wanted to have a big jump, but I had some problems on the takeoff and I never really recovered."
But Jones did recover on his final effort by recording the second longest jump of the round and putting the pressure on Alborn, who was the favorite to win the event.
"We have a friendly rivalry," Jones said. "We are the best of friends, but I still try to beat him every time I head to the top of the hill."
The large hill event was the last of three national titles that were handed out in Steamboat Springs this week. Alborn earned both special jumping titles and Demong pocketed the combined crown.
But teams will get a well-deserved break over the next few weeks before they start preparing for the next World Cup season.