It’s a great time to be a Flying Eagle.
Eau Claire’s ski jumping club will be represented by two athletes in the upcoming World Nordic Championships in Austria and four younger skiers have been named to the Central Team for the Junior National championships to be held in Park City, Ut.
The World Championship teams were announced Thursday from U.S. Ski Team headquarters in Park City.
In that Ben Loomis, last year’s Olympian, was a shoe-in for the Nordic Combined team, the biggest news was the naming of Andrew Urlaub to the four-man jumping team that will compete in Seefeld, Austria February 22 through March 2.
The 17-year old Urlaub, who recently placed 27th in the World Junior championships in Finland, joins veterans Kevin Bickner and Casey Larson along with newcomer Pat Gasienica, all of Chicago Norge, on the jumping squad.
“I’m quite excited about skiing with the best in the world,” said Urlaub, who will be one of the youngest in the event. “I’ll just to the best I can and try to make the (30-man) cut.”
It’s a tall order for Urlaub, the Eau Claire Memorial senior, who has come on strong this year and scored Continental Cup points in the process.
“He is getting closer to the best jumpers in the world his age,” Coach Jan Druzina said. “The main goal for the young guys is to perform well in their first big event of their lives and to learn from the best in the world.”
Urlaub, who tied for the U.S. Cup series championship last year and is the first city World championship jumper since Reed Zuehlke in the 1980s, will be skiing this week in Continental Cup competition at Iron Mountain, Mich. There will skiers from 15 nations competing.
Loomis, 20, got a taste of Olympic competition in South Korea last winter and has come on to score World Cup points after a slow start this season.
“I’m definitely feeling more confident,” said Loomis, getting a training break back at his winter home in Park City before returning to Europe to train before the big event.
“The top 30 is my goal and I feel that is realistic. This will be similar to World Cup, or even less competitive in that nation’s can only enter four skiers.”
He said his jumping, which slipped some from being his strong point, is getting back to where it can be although a little inconsistent.
He joins Taylor Fletcher, Jasper Good, Jared Shumate and Grant Andrews, all of Steamboat Springs, Colo., on the combined team.
“Each guy has something to bring to the table and this team has a lot of good momentum right now,” said Coach Martin Bayer.
The women’s ski jumping team includes Nita Englund, Iron Mountain; Tara Geraghty-Moats and Nina Lussi, Lake Placid, N.Y., and Logan Sankey, Steamboat Springs.
Landon Lee heads a group of four juniors who will be out to carry the colors of the Flying Eagles on a national basis at Park City, Feb. 26-March 2.
The 16-year old is believed to be the leader in the U.S. Cup series heading into two final competitions in the Eastern Division and will be a strong contender in the U20 class. He most recently placed first and second at Westby with a long jump of 105 meters or 344 feet.
Also in the U20 class is Logan Gundry, who has come on strong this season. Others include August Schini, Westby; Lucas Nichols and Jacob Fuller, Chicago; Aric David, Coleraine, Mn.; Woody Waugh, Cloquet, Mn., and Tim Ziegler, Ishpeming, Mich.
Stewart Gundry and Carter Lee, both among leaders in Central competition this winter, are strong candidates in U16 class. They join Shane Koucher, Isak Nichols and Maxim Glyvka, all of Chicago, on the team.
Stewart and Logan Gundry are also Nordic Combined entries.
Female jumpers include Adeline Swanson and Daisy Foster of St. Paul and Mollie Immens of Chicago.
The team was selected on the basis of qualifying tournaments and announced by Central Coach Scott Smith of Chicago.