Thursday, February 13, 2003
Steamboat Springs Special jumper Alan Alborn didn't seem to be hampered by a sore knee Thursday.
The defending national champion soared 93.5 meters on his final jump to move past Johnny Spillane and win the normal hill title in the final event
of the Chevy Trucks National Ski Jumping Championships.
"Conditions were pretty nice," Alborn said. "The air switched around a little bit in that last round and started blowing from behind, which made it a little tougher. My jumps were not really right on, but I would say average."
Alborn's "average" effort earned him 246 points in the two-round jumping event. It was just enough to edge Nordic combined skier Spillane, who took second with 233 points on jumps of 91 and 90 meters. His Nordic combined teammate Todd Lodwick captured third place with 217.5 points.
Other top finishers included Clint Jones in fourth, Jim Denny in fifth, Logan Gerber in sixth, Carl Van Loan in seventh and Rector Hartman in eighth.
Jeff Denny placed ninth and Steamboat's Tommy Schwall rounded out the top 10. Steamboat's Nathan Gerhart was 12th, Alex Glueck came in 15th and Jed Hinkley was 16th.
Both Spillane and Lodwick won national titles Wednesday during the first day of the Chevy Trucks National Jumping and Nordic Combined Championships, which took place Wednesday. Spillane won the large hill title in the morning and Lodwick captured the combined title that same afternoon.
But on Thursday, Alborn, a native of Alaska who trained with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club for several years, left little doubt that he was the king of the hill.
He took the lead in the first round of jumping with an effort of 93 meters. He then overcame a tailwind in the second round to fly 93.5 meters. He netted 122.5 points on the jump -- seven more than Spillane.
"That was probably as far as my knee could take," Alborn said. "If I had jumped any farther than that, it would have hurt."
Alborn had surgery a couple of months ago to repair damage in his knee, which has bothered him for most of the season. He aggravated the injury during the large hill competition Wednesday.
The knee, however, didn't seem to be bothering Alborn as he stepped onto the podium to collect his prize at the end of the normal hill competition.
Thursday's event was possibly the last time Alborn will step onto the podium as a member of the U.S. Ski Team.
Alborn made it clear this week he is not planning to return to the U.S. Ski Team after this season. He cited health concerns (the ailing knee) and some personal reasons for the decision.
The two-time Olympian said he has had a great jumping career but said the American squad lacks a team atmosphere and isn't getting the support it needs to be successful at the international level.
Alborn has been a member of the team for four years and enjoyed one of his best seasons in 2002 when he placed in the top six of the World Cup Tour on three different occasions. He also set the U.S. distance mark at 221.5 meters.
But he showed signs of frustration with the team after a disappointing showing in the first event of the 2002 Olympics. He announced his retirement during the games but later recanted the statement.
This season, Alborn and Steamboat Springs native Clint Jones have represented the American team abroad. The U.S. Team enjoyed great success in the summer Grand Prix Series, where Jones was second in the overall standings, but results this winter have been inconsistent.
"I want to start college and start flying (Alborn is a pilot who owns his own a Cessna 185) a lot more," he said. "Maybe go to Mexico and party a little bit with my friends."