Special jumper Alan Alborn made it clear at last winter's U.S. National Ski Jumping Championships in Steamboat that he wanted to retire, and Tuesday he made it official.
Alborn, 22, who just completed his fourth year with the U.S. team, cited knee problems and his desire to move on with his life as reasons for leaving the team.
"I want to start college and start flying a lot more," Alborn said last February during the Chevy Trucks U.S. Ski Jumping Championships.
Alborn said he will return to Alaska and plans to eventually go to school to become a commercial pilot. He already has a pilot's license and owns a single-engine plane.
Over the past couple of years, Alborn has set the standard for American jumpers. In 2001, he was the first American to jump more than 200 meters, launching 210 meters in Oberstdorf, Germany, during a ski flying event. He continued to push the limits of American jumping in 2002 when he had some of the best American jumping results in a decade, posting three top 10s on the World Cup tour. The same year, he extended the national jumping record by soaring 221.5 meters off of a jump in Slovenia.
He also was a two-time Olympian who attended his first Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, when he was 17.
In 2002, he placed ninth in the normal hill event in Park City, Utah.
But in fall 2002, he injured his knee in a Continental Cup meet. The injury took its toll on the jumper, who already was torn about what he wanted to do with his future.
He underwent arthroscopic surgery, but the pain and the problems didn't go away.
"Alan had some great results, for sure, but he's also been bothered continually with the knee pains and he's wanted to start moving toward flying commercially back home. We certainly wish him the best," coach Kari Ylianttila said.
Alborn capped off his noteworthy career by winning the national normal hill title in Steamboat in February, but felt at the time that pain in his knee was holding him back. After earning the title, which was his fifth, he said he would retire at the end of the ski season. He lived up to his word Tuesday, when the U.S. Ski Team made an official announcement.
Coaches hoped Alborn and teammate Clint Jones, of Steamboat Springs, would lead the struggling special jumping team into a new era. The two have enjoyed impressive results the past several years, but the team remains inconsistent, especially at the development level.
-- To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209
or e-mail email@example.com