Wednesday, February 4, 2004
It wasn't exactly like winning the lottery, but ski jumper Logan Gerber wasn't complaining after he won a longest-standing-jump event in Minneapolis last weekend and pocketed some much-needed cash.
Gerber said he plans to use the $2,000 to cover some of his expenses this season and, hopefully, finance a trip to Norway the first week in March for a ski-flying tournament.
"The (U.S.) Ski Team isn't going to pay for it, but there are a few of us who want to go and have started planning it," Gerber said.
Tight economic times for the U.S. Ski Team have resulted in cuts to the special jumping program. Gerber, and most of the other athletes on the U.S. Ski Team's special jumping squad, have been forced to pay for a large part of their travel and other competition expenses.
Many jumpers have turned to sponsors to help cover expenses or are trying to win money at cash events such as the Super Tour events, which are supported by the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, and at other events such as the one hosted by the Minneapolis Ski Club on Saturday, which was not supported by the team.
In the Minneapolis event, athletes were scored only on distance. The ski jumpers were allowed to pick their own starting gates at the top of the hill and were not judged on form during the flight.
However, the jumpers were not allowed to exceed the "target" safety distance of 87 meters. If they did, they were eliminated from the event.
Gerber said about 40 jumpers entered the event. The field was cut in half each round until two jumpers remained. At the end of the day, Gerber went head to head with 2002 Olympian Brian Welch for the top prize.
Gerber jumped 86.5 meters on his longest jump of the day. Welch soared 87 meters but was unable to land the effort and was disqualified.
"I like this format a lot," Gerber said. "Since you get more than two jumps, it takes a lot of the pressure off."
Gerber said he didn't feel pushed to be the best jumper in each round. Instead, he just worked to survive each cut and hoped that he could fly the farthest in the finals.
"It got a little tricky at times," Gerber said. "You kind of had to gauge how far the guys behind you were going to fly, but you couldn't go past the target distance, either."
Both Gerber and Welch jumped seven rounds. Rector Hartman of Park City, Utah, and Kyle Kessler of the Central Division completed six rounds.
Park City's Tim Nelson, Central Division skier Dave Edlund and Steamboat's Davis Miller all made it five rounds before being eliminated.
Steamboat's Alex Miller and Johnny Spillane and Park City's Stephen McKay finished four rounds before getting cut.
Steamboat's Kyle Lockhart and Adam Schwall made the trip to Minnesota but did not break into the top 10 at the event.
"We didn't decide to go there as a club, but a bunch of our jumpers learned about it in a press release and thought it sounded like fun," said Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club coach Todd Wilson. "I'm happy that Logan won the event. It will be good for him."