Rolf Wilson flies during the winning jump of the Pro Alpine Flying Gelande Ski Jumping Championships at Howelsen Hill on Sunday in Steamboat Springs.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Rolf Wilson flies during the winning jump of the Pro Alpine Flying Gelande Ski Jumping Championships at Howelsen Hill on Sunday in Steamboat Springs.

Wilson flies as top jumper in annual Steamboat event

Flying Gelande Jumping Championships attract 15 contestants

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Jumping results

Final results figured from the best of two preliminary jumps combined with the best of two finals jumps.

  1. Rolf Wilson, 707 feet
  2. Josh Hanson, 689
  3. Marsh Gooding, 676
  4. Erik Wilson, 659
  5. Lynn Wenzel, 633
  6. Pat Arnone 620
  7. Jordon Goldsmith, 599
  8. Darin Gamba, 573
  9. Nick Cole, 569
  10. Eric Hefley, 558
  11. Tim McGill, 558
  12. Rob Massie, 504
  13. Andy Atha, 497
  14. Courtney Date, 454
  15. James Long, 417

— When it comes to gelande Alpine ski jumping, Rolf Wilson is still the man with a jet engine in a world of propellers.

Wilson, from Montana, faced some of the toughest competition he’s encountered in his run at the annual Pro Alpine Flying Gelande Jumping Championships on Sunday, but when he needed a big jump, he came up with it and won. He landed the day’s biggest jump on the day’s last jump and wrapped up his third consecutive and sixth overall title in that contest.

“I love this sport,” Wilson said.

Wilson’s main competition came from Park City, Utah-jumper Josh Hanson, a Nordic ski jumper who recently has started slipping on his Alpine gear to compete gelande style. This was his first season jumping in the annual Steamboat Springs event, which took place at the city’s Howelsen Hill jumping complex. The longer Hanson jumped, the better he was, and with his third jump of four, he outpaced the favorite, Wilson.

Hanson flew 351.11 feet, and after the second round, he was 2 feet better than any of the other 15 jumpers. Wilson stepped up on his fourth attempt, however, and stomped a 359.31-foot leap that came just 6 feet short of the gelande world record he set at the same jumping hill in 2005.

The final scores were determined by adding the best of the athletes’ first two jumps with the best of the second two. Wilson finished 18 feet better than Hanson in the two jumps.

“I saw how hard he went, and all I could think was ‘OK, we have a competition,’” Wilson said. “It feels good to have jumpers come out and jump that far.”

Marsh Gooding, of Steam­boat, was third in the event. He was 13 feet short of Hanson. Erik Wilson was fourth, Lynn Wenzel was fifth and Steamboat’s Pat Arnone was sixth.

Rolf Wilson said Sunday’s conditions made for good but certainly not great jumping. The sky was clear, which helped, but the day’s breeze was either dead or pushing lazily downhill, not uphill in a manner that would have helped lift the jumpers.

“It was blowing downhill, which doesn’t allow any lift, but the speeds were fast,” Wilson said. “A little wind would have been great. That would have been ideal, and I could have floated it in” to re-establish the world record.

For Arnone, it was his tenth year organizing the event. A recent hip surgery kept him from finishing near the top of the competition, but he said he yet again realized why he works so hard to incorporate the event into the annual Winter Carnival.

“Every year during carnival week about Tuesday or Wednesday I’m tired and I ask myself why I keep doing this,” he said. “Then, when we get to the competition I remember. It’s always so much fun. This year we had another great event.”

— To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 871-4253 or e-mail jreichenberger@steamboatpilot.com

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