A higher calling

Steamboat native named new coach of U.S. Ski Team's Special Jumping

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It was just 10 years ago that a young jumper named Corby Fisher was prepared to change the face of ski jumping in this country after earning a spot on the U.S. Special Jumping team.

But a series of crashes left Fisher with a serious head injury that interrupted his plans and eventually ended his ski jumping career before it could fully take flight in the fall of 1994.

But Fisher's story didn't end there.

Two weeks ago, the 28-year-old, who was born and raised in Steamboat Springs, was named the new coach of the U.S. Ski Team's Special Jumping program.

Once again, he is prepared to change the face of ski jumping in this country.

The appointment marks the height of a 10-year journey, which included a stint as a bull rider, a few classes at the University of Wyoming and uprooting his life here to move to Park City, Utah.

But on his journey, Fisher never could escape the grips of the sport he has loved since he was 5, and his desire to make an impact on the sport of ski jumping in the United States.

After his competitive career ended, he turned to coaching. He has coached at the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, the National Sports Foundation and, most recently, as an assistant with the U.S. Ski Team's Nordic combined squad.

The powers at the U.S. Ski Team are hoping Fisher's travels have given him the knowledge and experience he needs to lead a program that has endured more than its share of ups and downs the past few years.

"There is no question that the Special Jumping team is in a bad way right now," Fisher said. "But I know the ski jumpers on this team have the talent -- now they just need to show it to the world."

Despite Fisher's youthful appearance, his success as the jumping coach for the U.S. Nordic combined team made him a frontrunner to take the Special Jumping position when longtime coach Kari Ylianttila resigned earlier this spring.

It may have been Fisher's youth that swayed the U.S. Ski Team into giving him a shot. Before announcing Ylianttila's replacement, Nordic Director Luke Bodensteiner said the team was looking for a younger coach who could relate better to jumpers such as Clint Jones and Alan Alborn.

"It's definitely a big challenge," Fisher said of turning the tide of the American jumping program. "We've got a lot of talent on this team. A big part of my job will be getting these guys to believe in what they are doing and to start having fun again. I think an American coach can help build pride in an American team."

Fisher's plan to turn the team around will begin the first week of May when the jumpers return to Park City to begin summer training.

He said he wants to use the same step-by-step formula he did when he took over as jumping coach for the Nordic combined team. He expects it to be a fun process that will pump up his athletes and get them excited about competing on the World Cup again.

Fisher also thinks it will be important to involve the developing jumpers who are not officially on the U.S. Jumping Team. He thinks it will be key to stay connected to what is happening with ski jumping in this country at the development level, and to help those jumpers whenever he gets the chance.

--To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209

or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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