Ski jumping coach leaves U.S. squad

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— Corby Fisher thinks American ski jumpers can be competitive on the World Cup Tour, but he also understands it is going to take a major shift in thinking.

For the past two years, Fisher, a special jumping coach, has waged an often under-funded crusade to bring the U.S. in line with the rest of the world. His efforts ended Friday when he announced his resignation.

"I can sleep at night knowing that for the last two years I gave everything I had for the ski jumping movement in my country," Fisher said. "I have dedicated myself more than I thought I could and ended up working 100-hour weeks desperately doing any and everything I could do to break through -- all with a tiny budget and no support staff. When I realized that my aspirations and expectations were higher than the reality of our situation, I knew I had to retire."

The U.S. Ski Team has not announced who will replace Fisher.

Nordic director Luke Boden--steiner could not be reached by phone Wednesday, but he responded to Fisher's departure in a team news release Friday.

"Corby's tireless, and he's given us four strong years, and we're going to miss his positive and energetic approach to coaching," Bodensteiner said. "We certainly wish him the best."

Fisher's resignation was prompted by a proposal he made to the leaders of the U.S. Ski Team after the completion of the 2006 season. In the proposal, Fisher laid the groundwork for what he thinks is necessary for the U.S. team to be successful in the future. It included a budget increase to pay for support staff and wax technicians he thinks America's top skiers need to be competitive. He also addressed the structure of ski jumping in the U.S. and the changes that must take place at the regional and national level for the sport to move forward.

When U.S. Team officials said the changes were not possible, Fisher decided it was time to move on.

Although he was disappointed in the team's reaction, Fisher said he understands the business side of the ski team. He also said he wants to remain positive.

"The proposal was a big part of the reason I left," Fisher said. "It was killing me to be out on the road every week representing the U.S.A. and not have the firepower needed to win every battle. It was like going to war with a BB gun."

Despite sending five jumpers to the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Italy, the U.S. did not produce any top-30 results.

Veterans Alan Alborn, who made the cut in the normal and large hill events, and Clint Jones, who made the cut in the normal hill event, led the American team. But the results were not what Fisher and the U.S. Ski Team needed to gain attention and money.

Fisher, 30, grew up in Steamboat and was a member of the national team in the mid-1990s before suffering a career-ending series of injuries. A concussion, his second in less than a year, marked the end of his days on the ski jumps. Fisher said he wanted to keep jumping, but doctors would not clear him.

He worked as a coach at the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, was the program director for the National Sports Foundation in Park City, Utah, and spent two seasons with the U.S. Nordic combined team as a jumping coach. He was with the team when Johnny Spillane won his World Championship.

"It has been a great career, and I have met some of the most important people in my life through this great sport and will continue to stay in touch with all of them. I will always be a fan of this beautiful sport and care about where we take it. I look forward to offering all of my hard-earned experiences from these past years on the World Cup Tour to the person who takes my place."

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