Englund wins gold at US Ski Jumping Championships

Florence, Wis. native soars 123.5 meters to secure first place

Nita Englund takes gold at the U.S. Ski Jumping Championships at the Utah Olympic Park. (Tom Kelly)

PARK CITY, Utah — Nita Englund of Spread Eagle, Wis., came away with gold at the 2018 U.S. Ski Jumping Championships on the HS134-meter hill at the Utah Olympic Park.

Englund, a Florence High School graduate representing the Kiwanis Ski Club, claimed her second career title in one of the most hotly contested championships in recent history.

In the women’s competition, Abby Ringquist of Park City claimed silver with Nina Lussi of Lake Placid, N.Y. taking bronze.

The championship wrapped up the week-long Springer Tournee which attracted 200 young ski jumpers from across America.

Englund took the U.S. Championship lead on her first jump, soaring 111.5 meters to take a slim six-tenths of a point lead over Ringquist, Tara Geraghty-Moats of W. Fairlee, Vt. and Lussi, who won the opening non-championship event on Friday.

Olympian Sarah Hendrickson of Park City was fifth, leaving four women within just two points going into the final round.

“It was super fun,” Englund said. “I didn’t know how close everyone was. I knew it was going to be close so on the second jump I had to be extra focused.”

On the second jump, Geraghty-Moats went 115.0 meters with Hendrickson, Lussi and Ringquist each putting it down to 115.5 meters. It all came down to Englund, who blasted into the wind, hanging on to every meter, as she pushed down to the 123.5 meter mark for the longest ride of the day and the gold medal.

Canadian Taylor Enrich won the overall completion but was not eligible for a U.S. Championships medal.

While the summer atmosphere tends to be fun and relaxing, there was a tension in the air as the U.S. Championships kicked off the Olympic season. Both the men’s and women’s field included every Olympic contender with all of them focused on sizing up the competition and looking ahead to the U.S. Olympic Team Trials to be held at the Utah Olympic Park Dec. 30-31.

Englund, and most of the top women, came back from her training base in Slovenia to start off the Olympic season.

“It was important for me to just be relaxed and get ready for the coming Olympic season,” she said. “I wanted to have fun this summer, enjoy it and be relaxed. This summer I’ll just hone in on my competitiveness and get that solid base. Going into the winter, I’ll just see where it takes me.”

In the Olympic test event at Alpensia, South Korea last winter, Englund was the top American in both events on the HS109 meter hill with a pair of top 10s.

“The hill in PyeongChang is cool for me,” she said, smiling. “Wind will be a really big factor but the wind nets will help. The hill jumps a lot like the 90 meter in Planica where we train a lot.”

Will Rhoads of Park City took his third straight men’s title.

Both the men and women will now head to Continental Cup and Grand Prix summer competitions in Europe in August and September, returning to Lake Placid, N.Y. in early October for the normal hill U.S. Championship.

The World Cup season opens in November for men and December for women.