Thursday, February 13, 2003
Steamboat Springs Jessica Jerome probably couldn't hear the sound of cheering fans as she sliced through the air en route to winning her second national title of the week on Thursday afternoon.
But they were applauding her effort.
The 16-year-old ski jumper from Utah recorded efforts of 92.5 and 90 meters (from a slightly higher start than the men) to defend her normal hill title on Thursday morning. She also topped the women's field in the large hill event Wednesday.
"I didn't jump as well as I did yesterday," Jerome said. "But it worked out OK."
Jerome's two jumps earned her 224.5 points and a pretty good cushion over the other competitors in her class.
Alissa Johnson and Lindsay Van tied for second place with 188 points. The only other competitor in the class, Brenna Ellis, was fourth with 120 total points.
"I thought Lindsay would have been a little closer," Jerome said. "This past week she had been jumping really well and I thought there was going to be a huge competition between us. But she didn't ski her best today."
Van agreed she didn't have her best jumping performance. After outjumping Jerome in two competitions in Europe earlier this winter, she had expected a better showing in Steamboat.
"It was pretty horrible," Van said. "The last three days have not gone great, but that's the sport of ski jumping -- sometimes you're hot and other times you're not."
Thanks to the generosity of a local business and several private contributions, all three of the top girls walked away from Steamboat with a little extra cash. While the U.S. Ski Association didn't want to touch the issue of awarding prize money in women's ski jumping (the only women's winter sport that doesn't earn prize money at its national championships), local sponsors stepped to the plate.
Jerome pocketed $150 for her efforts while the other podium finishers each walked away with $75.
"It's nice to get some money," Van said. "Hopefully, it's a trend that continues."
Jerome, Van and Johnson will join a larger group of female jumpers headed to Europe for the FIS Women's Four Hills Tournee.
"Women's jumping is becoming more popular and more people are recognizing it, so that's good," Jerome said. "It's coming along."