A world record day

Rolf Wilson the big winner over the weekend in a family of gelande jumpers


— Several years ago, Montana skier Brent Wilson introduced his two younger brothers to the sport of gelande jumping.

It's a decision he openly questioned as the trio made the long journey from Steamboat Springs back to Montana late Sunday afternoon.

"He was joking with us during the drive and said that if he hadn't drug us into this sport, he wouldn't have to keep splitting up the prize money," Rolf Wilson said.

While Brent Wilson managed to earn a spot on the podium following his third-place finish in the Alpine Ski Flying Championships, which took place at Howelsen Hill over the weekend, he wasn't the biggest winner in the family.

Both of his younger brothers took a bigger share of the prize money at the end of the day. Rolf Wilson won the event with a combined total of 691 feet (best jump from each of two two-jump rounds), and the youngest Wilson, Erik, took second with a total of 658 feet.

And as if that were not enough for the elder Wilson to take, Rolf's attempt in the second round of 353 feet is a new world record.

"I didn't expect to break any records when I came to Steamboat," Rolf Wilson said. "I took some time off and this was the first time I've jumped in a year."

But on Sunday, Rolf Wilson, who held the old record with a jump of 347 feet, looked as if he had never broke stride by soaring past the field of 20 jumpers who took part in the first stop of the professional gelande tour.

"It's an amazing sport," Rolf Wilson said. "I can't describe the feeling you get when you are jumping -- but it's the most freedom I've ever felt."

While Rolf likes to joke around with his older brother, he says the family is close and that Brent doesn't really regret introducing his brothers to the sport.

Rolf Wilson was also quick to point out his gelande family extends well beyond his brothers and includes many of the other athletes who were in Steamboat over the weekend.

"It's a team sport," Rolf Wilson said. "Everybody gets along and cheers for the other guys. They will help you with wax, style, distance. It's not really about winning; we are all out there having a good time."

While the Wilsons have dominated the sport the past several years, Rolf admits it isn't the type of showing that's going to make him rich.

He now works 40 hours a week as a carpenter in Montana to pay the bills, but he keeps hoping.

"Right now, it's really more of a hobby," Rolf Wilson said.

"Hopefully, they will build a few more jumps, and we can get some more people out to make this a bigger sport."

Steamboat is one of the places where the sport is big.

Youngster Marsh Gooding was the top local finisher in the event, taking sixth place with combined jumps of 632 feet. Ron Norton (seventh), Pat Arnone (eighth), Tim Magill (10th) and Greg Rudolph are also from Steamboat.

Arnone has organized the event for several years and said he hopes the event will continue to grow in this community, which has a long and rich jumping tradition.

"It's just too much fun," Arnone said. "I have to keep doing it. Next year, we are just going to have to ask the Wilsons (who left before the awards ceremony so they could get home) to hang around so that we can see the trophy."


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