Photo by Joel Reichenberger
Erik Gilbert soars down the jump at Howelsen Hill in front of spotters trying to mark his landing distance Sunday during the Alpine Ski Flying Championship in Steamboat Springs.
Sunday, February 12, 2012
2012 Alpine Ski Flying Championships
- Rolf Wilson 564 feet
- Marsh Gooding 559
- Erik Wilson 525
- Tim Magill 520
- Erik Gilbert 512
- Pat Arnone 512
- Lynn Wenzel 464
- Rob Davis 433
- Greg Rudolph 430
- Chris Allen 430
- Bruce Stott 423
- Darin Gamba 416
- Andy Atha 400
- George Clark 305
- Austin Watts 282
The 15 men of Sunday’s Alpine Ski Flying Championships laughed and joked at the bottom of the jump at Howelsen Hill just as they had at the top. They swapped hearty handshakes and crowded together tight for a group photo, young and old beaming as snow fell in Steamboat Springs.
“We’re like brothers,” said Rolf Wilson, who has traveled from Montana annually to Steamboat for the Winter Carnival event for more than a decade. “We’re like ski jumping brothers.”
Even if you like him, some days it sure can feel nice to beat your brother, however, and Wilson, who won the event for the ninth time, couldn’t hide his excitement as he squeaked past Steamboat’s Marsh Gooding for the victory.
Wilson won with 564 total feet. Gooding was second at 559, and Erik Wilson was third at 525.
“I love the competition,” Wilson said. “No one likes to lose. Everyone loves to win, but this group of guys, this is great.”
The crew that took to the Howelsen jumps Sunday is truly unique. Alpine ski flying, or gelandesprung, is ski jumping with Alpine skiing gear. That’s a factor that changes plenty about the sport and turns plenty of people away.
But not these guys. Half a dozen hail from Steamboat and the whole group travels across the country to competitions. The result is the tight-knit fraternity that came together at the bottom of the jump Sunday.
Wilson has been the class of the group for most of the past 10 years. Sunday’s win gave him his fifth consecutive championship at the annual Steamboat event. It’s consistency on the large scale that’s made his run possible, and Sunday it was consistency on the small scale that kept going.
Gooding actually landed the best two jumps of the day, flying 289 feet on both. It was 4 feet further than Wilson reached on his best attempt, but the competition includes four scoring jumps. The better of the first two and the better of the last two are combined. Gooding had a 4-foot advantage on the second set of jumps, but he already was 8 feet behind after the first set.
“I’m notorious for jumping too hard and not flying right to the end. You want to lean on the wind, and Rolf is really good at leaning way out and flying on that wind,” Gooding said. “I jump straight up and always fall out of the sky. It’s an uncomfortable spot out there, but today I was there and trying to jump out there as far as I could.”
Those two huge jumps weren’t enough, however.
“I always call Rolf ‘Ice’ because he never has a bad round,” Gooding said. “It sucks when you have really good jumps but they’re not at the right time. But it’s OK. I knew coming into it I couldn’t have a bad round and still beat him.”
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com