PARK CITY, Utah (July 28) - The 11th annual North American Springer Tournee wrapped up Saturday following four days of jumping and nordic combined competition with wins from USSA athletes Willy Graves (Putney, VT), Nina Lussi (Lake Placid, NY), Jessica Jerome and Anders Johnson (both Park City, UT). The competition took place at Utah Olympic Park in Park City.
The Springer Tournee is an annual summer competition that brings nordic ski clubs together for a weekend of ski jumping and nordic combined competition. It's named after the prestigious Four Hills Tournament in Austria and Germany.
Graves kicked off the tournament with a win in the nordic combined competition, while Lussi, Jerome and Johnson each won their respective age classes in the women's jumping events.
According to Graves, the nordic combined competition was an intensely close battle for the win.
"The jumping ended up being really tight. A lot of us were within a minute of each other. I skied behind Carl Vanmone and Bryan Fletcher. They caught me from behind and I drafted down. I saved a lot of energy and then we actually caught up to Alex Glueck, right when Taylor Fletcher caught up with us," Graves explained. "He had the fastest ski time. It was on the last hill on the last lap, and then I attacked there and ended up opening up a 15 second gap."
The win is an indicator to Graves that he is making his way through the summer training season successfully.
"It feels good to win at this time of the year just to know that the training has been going better," Graves said. "I've been taking a couple classes at Westminster College this year and I've actually trained more than I did last year, so it's good to know that I'm on track."
In the men's jumping competition, Johnson feels that his win was the outcome of the high level of training he's put in over the summer.
"I guess all summer I've been jumping at a higher level than I have in my entire life. And jumping is going well and off the hill training is going well," Johnson said. "It was nice to go into those competitions and be rewarded for all the hard work I've been putting in, so it was nice to win those competitions."
On Friday, Jerome, Lussi and Johnson made a repeat performance of their Wednesday wins before the tournament came to a close the following day.
For Jerome, winning the Springer jumping competitions was a chance to get back in the swing of competition.
"It definitely feels good. I'm not competing internationally at all this summer so the only time I get to compete is either the club competitions or at nationals and a couple more," Jerome said. "I'm hoping I can take it from there and keep it going."
In the end, winning the Springer was winning against the best in the field for Johnson.
"The level was as high as it can be in the U.S. so it's never easy to win a competition against the best people from the U.S. and Canada. It was good," Johnson said.
For complete results from the Springer Tournee click here.