In the absence of the injured Sarah Hendrickson, Lindsey Van soared to her 16th national ski jumping title Sunday, while Olympic champion Bill Demong scored his ninth national Nordic combined title.
2010 Olympian Nick Alexander took the men’s ski jumping normal hill championship. All of the Nordic skiing events were held in Lake Placid. Hendrickson and Nick Fairall won the large hill national titles there in August.
Van, 28, tallied 250 points with jumps of 92 meters and 96.5 meters on the normal hill.
“It’s nice as I was struggling a couple of years,” said Van, the 2009 world champion who placed 16th at worlds Feb. 22, said according to a U.S. Ski Team press release. “It was nice to feel the rhythm of ski jumping again.”
Reigning world champion Hendrickson, meanwhile, is still on the road to recovery.
Hendrickson said two weeks ago that her goal was to be back ski jumping in January. If she makes the Olympic team, Hendrickson, 19, will be somewhat of a co-favorite for gold with Japan’s Sara Takanashi, the reigning World Cup champion.
Takanashi, 17, dominated an event at the Sochi Olympic hill on Sunday, scoring 252.5 points with both jumps over 100 meters. The second-place finishers had 218 points.
“To get to Takanashi’s level, you have to work a lot,” Russian Anastasia Gladysheva said.
Van is expected to make a four-woman U.S. Olympic team regardless of Hendrickson’s condition. As is Jessica Jerome, who placed second to Van on Sunday with 223.5 points. Alissa Johnson, third Sunday, and Abby Hughes are the other contenders to make the team for the first U.S. Olympic women’s ski jumping team.
In Nordic combined, Demong came back to win in his hometown. The four-time Olympian was third after the morning ski jump and recorded the third-fastest 10km cross-country roller ski time to hold off brothers Bryan and Taylor Fletcher by 11 seconds. Todd Lodwick, first in the ski jump and aiming to make his sixth Olympic team, was fifth.
“The biggest threat today was either Todd, sprinting to the finish, or Taylor, who if he catches you, the chances are he’s just going to ski away from you on the bigger hills, especially lately, because he’s been training so well,” Demong said.
In the men’s ski jumping competition, Alexander registered a pair of 99-meter jumps for 263.5 points. Fairall placed second with 242.5. 2010 Olympians Anders Johnson and Peter Frenette were third and fourth with 242 and 241 points, respectively.
“This validates all of the hard work that I’ve been putting in all this summer,” Alexander said. “So now I just have to appreciate today and work even harder heading into the wintertime.”
The men’s ski jumping World Cup begins Nov. 23 in Klingthenal, Germany. The Nordic combined World Cup starts Nov. 30 in Kuusamo, Finland. The first women’s ski jumping World Cup stop is Dec. 6 in Lillehammer, Norway.