Special jumper Clint Jones' 19th place finish in last Saturday's Summer Grand Prix event in France wasn't a podium, but it was a positive sign for an American team trying to gain momentum for this winter.
"I would say it was par," said Todd Wilson, the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club's Nordic director. "You have to take these summer events for what they are. You don't know if guys are in top physical shape or if they are peaking for the event. The results that really matter are still in the winter."
But for the Americans and new coach Corby Fisher, the events in Hinterzarten, Germany on July 31 and the one Saturday in Courchevel, France were a chance to see where the Americans stand in the world and how their program is working.
Jones, the only American competing, finished in the 43rd spot in the German event, just missing the cut. The top 35 qualified for the second jump.
Poland's Adam Malysz won the event. Thomas Morgenstern of Austria was second and Noriaki Kasai of Japan placed third.
Jones improved his finish in the second event of the Grand Prix moving into the top 20 in the event, which was also won by Malysz.
Martin Hoellwarth of Austria was second and Rok Benkovic of Slovenia placed third.
The summer Grand Prix is the equal to the winter's World Cup Tour. However, the jumpers compete on plastic-covered jumps and use the events as a gauge to see how training is going.
Wilson said it's not uncommon for many of the top jumpers to skip events, and fields often vary in the number of jumpers competing and the overall talent.
However, the events are a good way for the competitors to keep their edge while training in the summer months and it keeps them in touch with how they are doing compared to other top international skiers.
There are four more Grand Prix events scheduled for later this summer with the next one in Zakopane, Poland, in September.
The Nordic combined tour also holds a Summer Grand Prix, which is slated to begin this weekend in Kandersteg, Switzerland.
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